The wind and rain of Hurricane Florence may have subsided but many parts of North and South Carolina now face damaging floods. As a result of rising waters and power lines downed by the storm, several community colleges in those affected areas remain closed.
Seven of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges won’t reopen this week, either because they lack power or commuting to the college could pose a danger. A number of the colleges served as shelters during the storm and now are centers to distribute meals, water and ice.
Aside from queries regarding when campuses will open and when classes will start, several colleges are fielding questions about student-aid payments. Cape Fear Community College (CFCC), which will remain closed through Saturday, said via its Facebook page that it would email and text students regarding checks and refunds. CFCC, which was set to start its fall semester on September 17, encouraged students to create direct deposit accounts to receive payments faster.
In South Carolina, three of the four campuses at Northeastern Technical College (NETC) reopened for employees on Tuesday and will reopen for students on September 24.
Florence didn’t cause much damage on its campuses – some signs and tree limbs were knocked down – but there was extensive damage in the community, said Erin Fann, assistant vice president for institutional advancement. Some bridges and roads were washed out, making it difficult to get to the college.
NETC officials don’t know how many students and employees had evacuated or how much property damage they suffered.
“We’re assessing the situation,” Fann said.
Stay put for now
Gov. Roy Cooper is urging North Carolinians to stay in safe shelters and remain alert to changing conditions due to remnants of Hurricane Florence, including significant flooding.
“Flood waters are rising as rivers crest and will for days,” he said at a press conference.
Cooper cautioned people in affected areas against leaving safe shelters to look at damage, as it can interfere with emergency responders and relief efforts.
Several leaders from local community colleges echoed the governor’s warning. The College of the Albemarle in North Carolina came out relatively OK, said President Robert Wynegar. But students living in the southern end of the Outer Banks who drive to the Roanoke Island campus had problems getting there because some of the roads were washed out or covered with sand.
Brunswick Community College in North Carolina remains closed through September 22, as staff and students remain isolated due to flooding, said President Susanne Adams. Meanwhile, the college is sheltering families and personnel from the sheriff’s office, National Guard and emergency medical technicians.
Moving up the coast
The remnants of the hurricane continue to pose threats as it makes its way through the Mid-Atlantic toward New England. The storm created several tornadoes near Richmond, Virginia, prompting Reynolds Community College on Monday to cancel evening classes and activities. Virginia and Maryland officials also are concerned about flooding, as much of the states’ grounds and rivers are already saturated from previous rains.