In the days before Hurricane Florence, Chapel Hill residents were on edge. Newscasters warned of a storm that could displace people and disrupt lives. As predicted, store shelves emptied of bottled water and bread, and floodgates were locked into place.
When the dreaded day of the storm arrived, many in Chapel Hill were underwhelmed. Considering that all across the state Florence brought severe damage, the effects in the town seemed mild.
The damage in Orange County ranged from people having to leave their houses and seek other shelter to simply rain and a few days off of school or work. In total, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) set the estimate for damage done to county homes and businesses at $26.4 million, with 276 buildings impacted.
In many cases, it is businesses in Chapel Hill that are still recovering, including those in local shopping center Eastgate, where drains filled and then overflowed with floodwater.
Bruegger’s Bagels and Starbucks in Eastgate have been closed since Hurricane Florence, and both stores have since been completely stripped of their interiors. Bruegger’s is planning on reopening mid-November following serious reconstruction, according to Kristal Armstrong, the general manager of the Eastgate store.
“We had our floodgates and our sandbags, but it didn’t withhold the water,” said Armstrong. “[The flooding] was significantly higher than what we had originally anticipated, due to the projections of Hurricane Matthew when it came through in 92’.”
Despite the damage to businesses, many houses were relatively unaffected. As a result, when Michael rolled around, there was a lot less news coverage in North Carolina.
Due to the rapid escalation of Michael from a tropical storm to a category four status, many in Chapel Hill found themselves surprised by the second hit. Many residents lost power for up to four days, which lead to inconveniences like the loss of shower water and the melting of ice in freezers.
In the immediate aftermath of Michael, the damage was very visible. Floods had overwhelmed streets and cut off neighborhoods. Trees had fallen, tearing down power lines and ripping up sidewalks.
“I lost power Thursday at 5:00,” said junior Ilana Wittle. “I had to move into my grandparents’ house temporarily… when we were driving down there, we saw three trees across the road, so we had to go a back way.”
As individuals and businesses in Orange County and beyond– including Georgia, Florida, and more, recover from this hurricane season, it is certain that many are hoping for a smooth recovery.
By Eva Buckner, Copy Editor and Madeline Brooks, Satire Editor