Excitement quickly spread across campus Monday night as students learned that NC State had cancelled classes Thursday and Friday. It was, everyone thought, only a time before UNC would follow suit. Sure enough, later in the evening an AlertCarolina message went out letting us know there would be no classes Wednesday through Friday this week.
Everyone enjoys unexpected time off from classes, so it's understandable how happy the announcement initially made students. But it’s important to remember exactly what caused the cancellations this week. This is no snow day. Later this week, a massive hurricane will sweep through the state, leaving untold destruction in its wake.
Throughout North Carolina's history, hurricanes have claimed hundreds of lives and and caused billions of dollars in damages. Still fresh on all of our minds, in 2016, Hurricane Matthew made land in our state, ultimately killing 26 people and causing $1.6 billion in property damages. Some parts of the state are still dealing with the effects of Matthew.
With Florence expected to make landfall tomorrow, UNC Wilmington has already ordered mandatory evacuations for its students. South Carolina's governor has ordered an evacuation of everyone living on the state's coast, and counties up and down the U.S. coast are doing the same. In all, more than one million people are expected to evacuate. This hurricane will hurt people. It will cause floods, wreck homes and destroy family keepsakes. It may take many people and even whole towns years to recover.
Ordinarily, classes being cancelled is worth celebrating. But not when the cause is something so terrible.