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  • By O'Tia Prioleau

Hurricane evacuation impacts CCU five years in a row

Coastal Carolina University students, faculty and staff have evacuated every fall semester for the past five years.

Last year, the storm greatly impacted CCU’s course schedules, totaling a three week break from classes. This left students and faculty scrambling to make up almost half a semester. Fortunately, through online discourse and discussion groups, many classes were able to work, albeit slowly, through the drudgery of the drama.

Emergency Management Director, Carissa Medeiros, and her team work to stay informed of and analyze incoming tropical storms curling up the coast. Medeiros’ office monitors its tracking system throughout the year whilst working alongside the Horry County Emergency Management, Georgetown County Emergency Management, State Emergency Management, and the National Hurricane Center.

“These are the people [who help us calculate] what our risk is, the potential impact and or if there's a storm coming,” said Medeiros. “The governor is the only one in the state of South Carolina that can issue an evacuation order or issue the executive order, closing schools and state government offices.”

The State Emergency Management Office is responsible for keeping the governor informed of potential impact and recommendations for times of weather trouble.

There has been a pattern identified.

“What I am most interested in is the fact that sure, we’ve increased in hurricanes for the past five years . . . I am always planning for the worst case scenario. . .is it the new norm? I hope not,” Medeiros said.

On Sept. 26, 2019 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Prince Lawn, Emergency Management hosted activities in honor of September being National Preparedness Month. Medeiros shared who was to present.

“Our local first responders, local fire department and police departments. The local bomb team with their dog and bomb robot . . . [and[ the Grand Strand Emergency Medical Center that is partnering with the Medical Reserve Corps and Dehek,” she said.

This year’s theme was Prepared Not Scared. Events included a scavenger hunt and lesson on how to build emergency supply kits.

Sophomore Eric Cantley said he was surprised CCU evacuated for Hurricane Dorian, but fortunately, his academic success was not compromised due to the break.

“With this being a huge hurricane center, like Myrtle Beach and South Carolina . . . I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s going to become a norm, but over the past couple of years we had it [hurricanes, so] it could potentially become a norm,” he said.

Cantley suggests for professors to have back-up lesson files in Moodle in case of a break from classes.

“It would probably be best to at least put lectures up so the student can get stuff done on their own time and not have things due until maybe the Friday after we get back if we have to evacuate. I believe some [professors] did a good job and others did not. For example, [one of my] professors said that he was going to email us, but I didn’t get one email,” he said.

Despite Cantley’s difficulty in the adjustment period after classes restart, he considers such breaks to not be an excuse to miss work, or act as if the break is a “hurrication” as referred by some students. Cantley wishes success to fellow students, saying “don’t let the hurricane get in the way of messing you up academically. Just keep on pushing forward.”

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