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UNC Wilmington Students Hunker Down At UNC Asheville As They Await A Return East

Matt Bush BPR
UNC Wilmington staff have taken up residence in an apartment in Ponder Hall on UNC Asheville's campus

Around a dozen students and staff from UNC-Wilmington are beginning their second week living on the campus of UNC-Asheville because of Hurricane Florence and its aftermath.

Eleven students and four staff members headed west a week ago Tuesday when UNC Wilmington officially closed ahead of Florence, which has devastated the city of Wilmington.  UNC Asheville offered space to anyone who had nowhere else they could go, and a school spokeswoman said they were expecting around 100 initially.  When it was only fifteen, they were able to find space in dorms at Ponder Hall instead of using cots as originally planned. 

Jay Parrack was just a few weeks into his study abroad year at UNC Wilmington when the computer science major from England had to pack up and head west on a bus to Asheville.  “It’s definitely worrying for me as an international to say ‘Oh am I going to have a university to go back to to study for the rest of the year'," says Parrack.  "It’s just so uncertain.”

This Parrack’s first hurricane.  Lanre Badmus has been through one before.  The New Jersey native is a senior international business major at UNC Wilmington, and can remember Hurricane Sandy six years ago hitting his hometown.  “To me this hurts a lot more because Wilmington is a lot closer and a lot more in my heart now than my hometown ever (was),” says Badmus.  

Both men say they have enjoyed their time in Asheville while they wait to return.  Badmus has chronicled his time in the mountains for the school newspaper The Seahawk.  But they and their colleagues might be in Asheville for some time.  Their stay will last at least through the end of this week, as UNC-Wilmington is closed until Friday – and the school says there’s no guarantee that it will be able to open next week.