When the UNC Sailing Club heard Hurricane Florence was going to hit the Carolinas, members took action to protect as much of their equipment as they could.
“We were out in the storm, getting everything because we were noticing it was going to flood,” said Robert Mclean, the fundraising chairperson. “We took everything up a hill and parked it there.”
The UNC Sailing Club practices at Jordan Lake, a reservoir located south of Chapel Hill.
“Jordan Lake is a basin for New Hope Creek, so after Hurricane Florence hit, the lake flooded and it stayed that way for about three weeks," President Taylor Betts said.
An article published by CBS 17 said Jordan Lake rose 18 feet above flood stage. As of the most recent update from Friday, Oct. 12, “several campgrounds, day-use areas and boat ramps remained closed due to flooding and damage from Hurricane Florence,” according to North Carolina’s Division of Parks and Recreation’s website.
The club was impacted in a variety of ways. The competitive team, which competes in regattas across the Southeast, was unable to practice or travel to multiple competitions.
“We had two of our main fall regattas cancelled because we were supposed to sail in Charleston the weekend of the hurricane and UNC-W the following weekend,” Vice President Ann Burns Morrison said.
Morrison said the club has sailed in places across Eastern North Carolina, including Oriental and New Bern, which were heavily impacted as well.
“It was kind of bad timing because it was right as we were kicking off things for the semester,” Mclean said. “The first weeks we were cancelled just because the marina was underwater.”
Although members moved their boats and other equipment to dry land before the hurricane arrived, other equipment was still damaged due to flooding. Morrison said even the parking lot where members parked their boats was completely flooded and remained flooded for two weeks.
“We keep the sails in a dock box, and we couldn’t move that thing so it was underwater,” Mclean said. “The sails were white in a dock box but now they’re sort of a nice, aged, parchment color.”
Betts said the club was impacted financially. Members spent money replacing some of the rigging and cleaning their boats.
Nevertheless, the club has competed in three regattas in the fall semester, according to Morrison.
“We’re competing in Oriental next weekend,” she said. “Generally, we try to go to as many regattas as we can. We have pretty limited funding and a lot of the regattas require travel to Florida which we can’t really afford.”
In addition to hosting a competitive racing team, the club also teaches sailing to beginners.
“Every weekend on Sundays we have a beginner clinic where the officers or more experienced members will lead a lesson, and it’s open to anyone in the club,” Betts said. “If you’re new to the club, once you’ve completed a certain number of clinics and you’re pretty competent, then you’re able to use the boats at any time.”
Despite the difficulties Hurricane Florence brought, the UNC Sailing Club has still maintained a competitive presence and plans to be active in the spring.
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