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Thursday May 26th

UNC launches $2 million fund and support hub for Hurricane Florence student victims

<p>UNC DACA Week is co-sponsored by the Carolina Union Activities Board.</p>
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UNC DACA Week is co-sponsored by the Carolina Union Activities Board.

A newly-launched emergency fund and resource hub provides financial, academic and personal support to students impacted by Hurricane Florence.

The emergency fund and resource hub are part of an initiative launched Monday, Sept. 24.

On Thursday, Chancellor Carol Folt announced the $2 million Florence Student Emergency Fund and the Student Success Hub for Florence Recovery at a UNC Board of Trustees meeting.

"The University will provide $1 million for the initiative from its trademark licensing revenue and income from UNC Student Stores, in addition to funding that the University has already committed to need-based scholarships," according to a press release from University Communications.

The University also created an online donation link explicitly for hurricane-relief funding.

The Student Success Hub is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Undergraduate, graduate and professional students can drop in any time between those hours or set up an appointment with an adviser by phone or email to 

When students arrive at the Student Success Hub, located in Room 2416 in the Student Union, they sit down with a Student Success Advisor to assess their situation. 

"Our advisers will sit down and talk with students about what that impact has been on them personally, financially, academically," said Desirée Rieckenberg, senior associate dean of students. "Lots of the time, we hear the stories of not only them, but their families as well, and so based upon all of those pieces of information, we will work with the student to be able to put together what we are basically calling success plans to think about how we can support them in all those different dimensions."

The hub functions as a central location where students can tackle many dimensions of Hurricane Florence’s impact, whether that be personal, academic or financial. The advisers are committed to helping students work through a range of issues, such as replacing damaged textbooks, scheduling make-up exams and assisting with financial hardships. 

“It’s humbling to sit and share space with students who are willing to open up about their lives, ” Rieckenberg said. “We’re seeing a whole breadth of different high-level concerns.”

Associate Director for Undergraduate Retention Katie Cartmell serves as a Student Success Advisor and said she has received only positive feedback from students and the UNC community following the launch of the hub. 

“We’re here, and we’re listening, and we are one central point of contact for our students instead of having to go through the challenges of navigating the entire campus," Cartmell said.

Hurricane Florence dumped over 30 inches of rain on the Wilmington and Morehead City areas, beating the previous record of 24.06 inches set by Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and leaving many UNC students devastated. 

Elizabeth Brooks, a sophomore from Swansboro, North Carolina, said many of her friends and community members are “building from the ground up” after severe flooding destroyed the inside of their homes. 

“People think about it for a week, and see it on the news for a week, and then they forget about you and you’re left to rebuild,” Brooks said.

In addition to the hub, Brooks said UNC should focus on supporting North Carolina public schools damaged by Hurricane Florence. Swansboro High School, where Brooks' brother attends, is still recovering and will not resume classes any earlier than Monday, Oct. 8. 

By Thursday morning, over 150 students had contacted the hub since its launch on Monday, Rieckenberg said. 

“Regardless of their story, big or small, we’re here for them,” Rieckenberg said.

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