Guilford sees hurricane damage


Finn Williamson

Hurricane Michael caused multiple trees to fall down on campus, including one near Archdale Hall, on Thursday, Oct. 11. // Photo By: Finn Williamson/The Guilfordian

On Thursday, Oct. 11, Hurricane Michael hit Guilford County as a tropical storm in a wave of high winds and heavy rains, sweeping through the Carolinas until Tuesday, Oct. 16. The unexpected pressure of the Category 4 Hurricane left thousands of homes and facilities without power for days, forcing schools and businesses across the nation to close for safety. Damages from fallen trees, flooding and the force of the wind from the storm made Hurricane Michael especially impactful.

At Guilford, safety was a primary concern. Public Safety kept Guilford students, staff and faculty members updated on the storm and its projected impacts, advising warnings to students on campus and offering escorts for those needing to travel across campus safely.

Public Safety worked alongside the Provost’s Office to send students necessary information regarding class cancellations. Classes after 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11 were canceled because of the projected strength and dangers of the Hurricane.

Some students who were on campus when Hurricane Michael made landfall on Thursday stayed in Hege due to notifications and alerts of falling trees sent by the Provost’s Office via email. Students like Early College Student Kassidy McFeeley passed time completing work for classes, talking to friends and watching movies.

“I worked on homework during the storm because I was in Hege Library,” McFeeley said. “I also watched American Horror Story on Netflix. The environment in Hege made waiting out the storm a lot easier and more fun than I think any of us expected it to be.”

Public Safety also made sure to alert students of any damage on Guilford caused by the storm. The impacts of Hurricane Michael were reflected in three major tree falls on Guilford’s campus, which included one tree by the Hege-Cox Hall, another by Hendricks Hall and the last close to Duke Memorial Hall.

“Other than the (old trees) coming down, that was the extent of the damage,” said Director of Public Safety William Anderson. “There was no damage to any buildings or any facilities.”

Though the only damages brought by Hurricane Michael on Guilford’s campus were tree falls, the effects of the tree falls caused safety concerns. However, the fallen trees were not as destructive as they potentially could have been.

“The trees that fell were all out of the way of the crosswalks,” McFeeley said. “I just walked past them and thought they were massive.”

Previous Guilford County Environmental Science Teacher at Northern Guilford High School Janiese McKenzie discussed the environmental implications of such tree falls.

“Because of the trees going down, there was a loss of oxygen production,” McKenzie said. “However, the loss allows for the growth of new trees in their place.”

Another environmental impact of the Hurricane included the runoff of wastewater into freshwater supplies. Water supplies are expected to have thus been contaminated by waste from hog farms. The farms have begun the cleanup process as Michael made its way through the southeast.

“Water runoff leads to wastewater in fresh water supplies,” McKenzie said. “It will take time for the water to be decontaminated in a time where freshwater is desperately needed around the state.”

Throughout the southeast part of the country, Hurricane Michael brought torrential rains with standing water up to 4 inches in some areas. This caused a number of trees to fall onto streets, houses and power lines, leaving areas without power for hours.

Power outages were a major concern. According to the Greensboro News and Record, over 180,000 people in the Triad were left without power on the day of the storm. Some areas of the Triad did not have power for up to six days. Luckily, power outages were not an issue at Guilford.

“We never lost power,” Anderson said. “We had some employees who lost power, but we never lost power here. There were a lot of areas that lost power and a lot of trees fell down around the Triad. We had several employees who suffered damage at their properties or had difficulty getting to work because of debris, trees and power outages.”

Through environmental damage, flooding and power outages, Hurricane Michael has impacted the lives of thousands, exacerbating the damaging effects Hurricane Florence left on communities in September. According to AccuWeather, hurricane season will continue to threaten coasts until late November.