As Hurricane Florence stalled on the North Carolina coast, UNC students studying abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong banded together and braced for a tropical disaster of their own: Typhoon Mangkhut.
In Hong Kong and Macau, The New York Times reported 100-mile-per-hour wind gusts and 11-foot surges of seawater that rivaled Hurricane Florence’s impact.
Typhoon Mangkhut made its presence known most prominently in the Philippines, where the estimated death count is at least 59. In Hong Kong, where five UNC students are studying abroad, the storm arrived midday Sunday and left around 24 hours later, leaving behind a path of destruction that shut down Hong Kong Airport and caused road blockages and fallen debris throughout the city.
Noah Sellers, a UNC senior studying at CUHK, said around 600 international students attend his host university, and the students came together during the storm as they sought shelter in their dorm. CUHK officials told students to stock up on butter and food, and to stay inside and away from windows. Across the globe in North Carolina, UNC students heeded similar advice as they faced a different tropical storm.
“Since we lived in the international dorm, all of the international students banded together and were pretty much landlocked since you can't go outside because the winds are so violent,” Sellers said.
During times of emergencies abroad, UNC works as a command center to coordinate efforts and check in on the safety of each student abroad and also works with host universities and provider programs to provide more resources for students, said Jing Liu, the Asia-Pacific and U.S. program director for the UNC Study Abroad Office. Liu said all five UNC students studying abroad in the impacted area are marked safe.