Should we stay or should we go

Jillian Langston | Staff Writer

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Every year, as students migrate back to Wilmington and classes begin, storms are developing off of the western coast of Africa and are moving towards the southern coast of the United States, affecting any state that borders the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. One thing students must consider is the fact that we are a school close to the beach, and we do receive the occasional tropical storm during this season. This poses the question: Is it better for students to stay and ride out the storm or pack up and get out of town?

Leaving Wilmington may sound like the best idea when a hurricane is on the way, but there are a lot of things to consider. If you have a job, leaving is probably out of the question, unless your place of employment isn’t going to be open or you “call in sick.”

Another thing to consider is when you’re going to get out of Wilmington. Many professors won’t cancel classes unless the university does, so you might have to make the decision of being absent this early in the semester or risk being stuck in traffic with everyone else who is fleeing from the storm. When I escaped to Raleigh last year from Hurricane Irene, my biggest problem was actually getting out of Wilmington. Traffic on South College was worse than usual, and it took me over an hour to get from the intersection of Wilshire and College to I-40, a usual ten minute drive. I didn’t beat the storm out and got caught in a downpour as I finally achieved normal speed on the interstate, resulting in me fearing for my life as I hydroplaned multiple times.

Your final destination during the storm also matters when making the decision. I still experienced rain and wind in Raleigh, but it was less severe than what the Weather Channel was showing in Wilmington. Some friends retreated to Jacksonville last year, which was a short drive, but they were still affected by the storm. After comparing their video of a tree falling down in someone’s backyard to the sticks and leaves blown down in Wilmington, I believe they had worse weather than they would have had if they had stayed. When Hurricane Hanna threatened to hit North Carolina in 2008, I vacationed for the weekend to Asheville to escape the storm, but at the cost of a 14-hour round-trip drive.

Since North Carolina hasn’t experienced a major hurricane while I’ve lived on the coast, I may sound inexperienced when I say that the risk of staying outweighs the hassle of getting out of town. Unless the university or city requires a mandatory evacuation, it is best to hold on and prepare for the storm. A few days of wind, rain, thunder and lightning beats the three-plus hour drive necessary to actually avoid any bad weather. Many people plan “hurricane parties” where you invite friends over to celebrate the fact that school was canceled, hang out and do what you would normally do with friends (that doesn’t involve going outside). But if you do stay, remember to stock up on canned food, bottled water, a flashlight, extra batteries and some books to keep you entertained, just in case you lose power.