The eye of former Hurricane Florence slammed into the coasts of North and South Carolina on Thursday, September 13, bringing massive flooding, storm surge and winds, and leaving coastal residents stranded on their roofs.
What does this mean for Hendersonville?
According to the National Hurricane Center, Henderson County will probably receive six to ten inches of rain between Saturday, September 15 and Sunday, September 16. Florence is likely to be a tropical depression when it reaches WNC, so sustained winds will be 35 mph (miles per hour) or under.
The main concern for the mountains is flooding and possible power outages, as well as the rising panic. Senior Tim Dorn and many other West students have noticed the rising demand for gas as people prepare for the worst possible conditions.
“I think people are obviously scrambling to get as much gas as they can. They fill up their cars and then they bring extra cans to fill up to the point where I don’t even think there’s premium left at Ingles,” Dorn said. “I actually haven’t gone to get gas since this has all been happening and I’ve got about a quarter of a tank left, so I’m just trying to make that last.”
Another concern of students, teachers and administrators alike is the likelihood of school being cancelled. Shannon Auten, principal of West, said there are no guarantees of what will happen, and that the decision will be made over the weekend with careful consideration.
“Because we have 23 schools, they have got to look in all the districts. It might be fine in West Henderson’s district, but East Henderson’s district might have some major flooding in some areas. They can’t cancel school for one district and not the other; it’s got to be all of Henderson County Public Schools,” Auten said. “So really, they [the superintendent, associate superintendent and director of transportation] will start looking hard on Sunday afternoon and just kind of monitor it by the hour and see how the district is.”
Student body president Moriah Fender said if school does get cancelled, students should use their time to catch up on assignments if they are behind and stay safe in the potentially dangerous weather conditions.
“If we do get out of school, everyone needs to be keeping up to date,” Fender said. “Don’t drive on any super wet roads, cause we’re the Falcon family and we can’t be getting hurt. We can’t be getting in danger like that. We’re a family and we’ve got to stick together.”
Fire stations around the county are preparing to help with any damage that could occur. Freshman Lukas Corn is a volunteer junior firefighter at the Mills River Fire Station, and he said he received a text from Mills River Fire Chief Rick Livingston telling him and other volunteers to be ready to help in case conditions get bad.
“The way it looks now, this storm may rival or surpass any storm we’ve seen to date. We really won’t truly know until it’s all said and done,” Livingston said. “All we can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Another concern for many people is friends and family on the coast. Junior Beth Gaffney has some friends who chose not to evacuate, and some who did.
“I’ve been thinking about them and worrying a lot during school, and especially at home when I’ve been watching the news. It makes it more real to me,” Gaffney said. “I am prepared to house them if I need to. My mom the other day was like, ‘If you have any friends on the coast, tell them we are available.’”
At its peak, Florence reached category 4 status with sustained winds of 140 mph. At the time of eye landfall, Florence was a category 1 hurricane with sustained wind speeds of 90 mph. Florence has now dropped to a tropical storm with sustained winds of 65 mph, which still poses a threat for many areas.
As of 9:27 PM EST (Eastern standard time), Florence has already dumped 16 inches of rain on the coast, and according to CBS, another 20 to 25 more inches are expected.
No matter the classification, Henderson County is in the path of Florence. To prepare for the flooding and tropical storm or depression strength winds, make sure your phones are charged, and, if applicable, your portable chargers. The power could go out if gusts of wind knock down trees or power lines.
By: Elise Trexler, Web Editor-in-Chief