Although Hurricane Florence didn’t quite reach Richmond at its originally expected capacity, it did affect the lives of some UR students and their families. 

Senior Lauren Lambert’s house in Midlothian, Virginia, became unusually full as her grandparents Ted and Phyllis Burton came to stay with her family before the storm. They had left their home in New Bern, North Carolina, to seek safety, which turned out to be a wise decision.

New Bern, a riverfront town and a 45-minute drive from the coast, ended up severely flooding during the hurricane as massive amounts of rain hit the town. During this time, the town lost power for about a week, numerous houses were destroyed and several people had to be rescued. Because of the town's high population of elderly people, New Bern’s damage was even more extreme. In an effort to help, Lambert’s mom bought needed supplies for the town’s shelters.   

Originally, Lambert’s grandparents were worried about the predicted weather and their lack of control over the situation, but they didn’t think the storm would be so extreme that they would need to relocate to avoid it, Lambert said. Ultimately, Lambert’s mom convinced her elderly parents to come stay in Virginia for a few days. 

Lambert traveled the short distance home from UR to visit with her family and was joined by her older sister who lives close by in Newport News, Virginia. They were able to have a nice family dinner together, which was one of the good things that came out of the natural disaster, Lambert said. 

Lambert’s grandparents stayed in Midlothian for about 10 days, which was how long it took for their town to get back on its feet. They are now safely back in New Bern. 

Lambert also has a cousin who lives in Raleigh and goes to school at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. 

“The Tuesday before the storm hit, all the students were evacuated and they didn't go back to school for three weeks,” Lambert said. “Their school’s Blackboard was completely shut down, and they never even got emails from professors.”

Eventually, students at UNC Wilmington did receive an email that school would be set back in session and that they should return for classes, with the exception of an entire dormitory of freshmen who would not be able to return because the entirety of their dormitory had been destroyed. These students would have to finish the rest of the semester online. In addition, because of the time lost, the university may have to hold classes on the weekends, Lambert said.  

Similarly, senior Colby Alvino’s family members found themselves surrounded by fallen trees and branches and without power for most of the day as Hurricane Florence took a toll on Charlotte, North Carolina. 

“The roads weren’t really drivable," Alvino said. "My family got a lot of alerts in order to update them on the storm and warn people to be careful driving. It was raining really hard and it was super windy.”

Alvino’s parents were planning on coming to Richmond to avoid the storm, but when they heard that it was supposed to hit Richmond as well, they decided to stay in Charlotte.

“Our house is really old, so my parents wanted to stay and be able to do little things to help prevent damage if they could,” Alvino said. 

Although both Lambert and Alvino were safe in Richmond, they said they were worried about their families elsewhere. Thankfully, no one was harmed.  

Contact features writer Kakie Pate at kakie.pate@richmond.edu.