Hurricane Florence hits CSU from 1,720 miles away

Julia Trowbridge and Daniela Navarro

Although Hurricane Florence slowed down by the time it hit North Carolina, the storm still caused serious damage, according to early reports. These damages have affected numerous Colorado State University staff members and students.

Many areas are still inaccessible, and with the continuous flooding from rising rivers, accessibility is only getting more difficult, said Sarah Phillips, an online international development professor for CSU. Phillips is currently in North Carolina, about 200 miles from the coast.


“The news doesn’t really focus very heavily on the financial implications for victims,” Philip said. “Not everyone can afford flood insurance, or never thought to buy flood insurance ‘cause they’re not in a floodplain. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods.”

The hurricane has impacted families and friends of CSU staff and students emotionally and financially.

Senior communication studies major Annabel Wall said her family was safe from the storm, but the same cannot be said for their beach house and surf shop on the Crystal Coast. The shop was completely destroyed.

“It’s hard to be in Colorado and not really know the effects of the hurricane, but I’m really just looking for any way that we can help them rebuild their business,” Wall said. “There’s the worry about the extra expense of cleaning up and rebuilding the whole business, which is something you don’t plan for. You don’t just think, ‘Oh if a hurricane comes through, do we have enough revenue to get through the winter?’”

The impacts of natural disasters can place worries and anxieties on staff and students. It can cause a lot of added stress especially because of the distance, Wall said. These worries can affect academic or work performance anddaily life either in the long or short term.

“Stress and anxiety from loved ones or community don’t have a mileage limit,” Phillips said. “After a natural disaster, it’s important to be grateful that you’re not in that situation, but also to figure out a way to help others that are to be there for them.”

The Crystal Coast was really my happy place, it’s where I go every summer. It’s an extra worry, and it’s sad that we might not be able to go back there.” Annabel Wall, senior communication studies major.

Victims are grateful that Florence came at the strength it did, Phillips said. It was predicted to make landfall at Category 4 strength and could have created damage all the way up to the state capital, according to National Public Radio.

Philip Klotzbach, a CSU atmospheric science professor who specializes in hurricanes, said when compared to Hurricane Harvey or Irma, Hurricane Florence’s winds were not as strong. The majority of the damage was caused by storm surges and swelling of rivers, due to the storm stalling at the coast.

“What makes Florence different from these storms is once it hit the coast, it didn’t move,” Klotzbach said. “That’s why it caused so much trouble. The wind damage from Florence was minimal, but there was a whole lot of rain (damage).”

For those affected emotionally or physically by Hurricane Florence: 

The creation of Hurricane Florence was slightly different than past hurricanes, due to how quickly it formed in the Atlantic Ocean, Klotzbach said. Hurricanes that travel the Atlantic Ocean originate as thunderstorms in African mountains, which then migrate to the coast.


“With Florence, it actually formed pretty much right after it hit the coast… so it was tracked all the way across the Atlantic,” Klotzbach said. “It was named for 15 days, so it was a very long-lived storm.”

Now that Florence has slowed down, those impacted are beginning to realize the effects.

After suffering from a disaster, the hardest thing can be establishing a new sense of normal, Wall said.

“The Crystal Coast was really my happy place, it’s where I go every summer,” Wall said. “It’s an extra worry, and it’s sad that we might not be able to go back there.”

Editor’s note: If you or a loved one was impacted by Hurricane Florence and want to share your story, please email

Daniela Navarro can be reached at or on Twitter @DanielaNavarr01.