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Live updates on Florence: Downgraded to tropical storm

The Chronicle's coverage of Hurricane Florence was posted throughout the week here by staff. This blog stopped being updated Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7:00 p.m.

Classes to start Monday (Saturday, Sept. 15 at 1:30 p.m.)

After being canceled beginning Wednesday at 5:00 p.m., classes will resume Monday morning. Duke's severe weather policy status will expire at 7:00 a.m. Sunday as well, according to the most recent updates from Duke's emergency notification website. Raleigh-Durham International Airport did not sustain any damage and is open.

The Marine Lab, however, will not be starting back so soon. The lab, which is located in Beaufort along North Carolina's coast, will not re-open to students and non-essential employees until Friday, Sept. 21. The lab was evacuated last week in preparation for the then-hurricane to batter the N.C. coast. 

Florence downs some trees on Duke's campus (Saturday, Sept. 15 at 11:30 a.m.)

As rain picked up Friday night, Florence brought down some trees and caused localized flooding on Duke's campus. The updates on Duke's emergency page state that the main effects Duke has felt from the storm so far are localized flooding, downed trees and scattered power outages.

According to a Friday night update, some campus thoroughfares had been covered in standing water. Those included parts of Campus Drive and the intersection of Duke University Road and Anderson Street.

Libraries will be closed through the day Saturday, but Wilson Gym is expected to reopen Saturday night at 5:00 p.m.

A fallen tree blocked Campus Drive Friday night.
A fallen tree blocked Campus Drive Friday night.

Duke Marine lab checked for damage, remains closed (Friday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m.)

In a series of tweets Friday night, the Duke Marine Lab wrote that Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton and emergency personnel made it on Pivers Island to scope out the damage caused by the hurricane. 

"Aside from a tree down, missing shingles and a derelict boat under dock, the worst damage was to Repass Teaching lab, which has the roof peeled back," the tweet stated.

Beaufort remains under a 24 hour curfew, according to the lab's tweets, and the lab will remain closed until further notice.

"For those who evacuated, please stay away until we’ve determined it is safe to return," Newton said. "Please be patient as we transition to the recovery phase of this storm.”

Florence now categorized as tropical storm (Friday, Sept. 14 at 4:40 p.m.)

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Florence from a hurricane to a tropical storm Friday. The shift came because its winds dropped below 70 mph. 

Florence kills three in North Carolina (Friday, Sept. 14 at 3:20 p.m.) 

Three people have died due to Hurricane Florence, according to a press release. One was killed while plugging in a generator and two more were killed when a tree fell on a home. Gov. Roy Cooper urged people to seek shelter and heed warnings. 

"Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm," Cooper said in the release. "Hurricane Florence is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days. Be extremely careful and stay alert."

Duke still at risk of flooding, isolated tornadoes (Friday, Sept. 14 at 1:00 p.m.) 

There is still risk of flooding on Duke's campus from Florence, with six to 10 inches of rainfall expected in the next few days, according to Working@Duke

Bus, dining, library hours updated (Thursday, Sept. 13 at 3:36 p.m.)

Duke's buses will operate on limited routes and hours throughout the weekend and the van service will not be available, according to a Thursday update from Duke. 

The C1, C2 and CCX buses will stop at midnight Thursday, the update said. The vans will stop operating for the weekend at 6:45 a.m. Friday. The other buses will operate as long as the weather conditions allow, according to the update.

For dining, Marketplace will be open throughout the weekend, and full hours for the Brodhead Center venues can be found here.

Perkins and Bostock libraries will be closed at 5:00 p.m. Thursday and will remain closed through Friday. Their hours for the weekend will depend on the conditions, according to the update. On Lilly Library's Instagram, the library said that it would be closed Friday and Saturday.

Severe weather policy extended to 7:00 a.m. Sunday (Thursday, Sept. 13 at 1:20 p.m.)

Duke announced that the severe weather policy would remain in effect until Sunday at 7:00 a.m. The University entered severe weather status at 12:00 p.m. Thursday. 

In a severe weather status period, the University is limited to essential functions. Dining facilities remain open, some with limited hours, and essential staff such as housekeepers and maintenance workers are still expected to report to work.

DSG elections for first-year senators postponed (Thursday, Sept. 13 at 12:53 p.m.)

In the weekly newsletter email to the student body Thursday morning, senior Kristina Smith, president of Duke Student Government, wrote that the elections for first-year senate elections are being pushed back. The elections will now be held from 12 p.m. Sept. 20 to 12 p.m. Sept. 21. 

For at-large applicants, the interviews will be completed next week, Smith wrote.

Florence downgraded to Category 2 (Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 11:30 p.m.)

The storm, which at its strongest was a Category 4 hurricane, was downgraded to a Category 2 before it struck the N.C. coast.

Tentative bus schedules announced (Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 10:30 p.m.)

Duke's buses will continue to run on a modified schedule for the next several days but van service will be closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to an update posted on the TransLoc app.

For Thursday, the LaSalle Loop Tripper and C3 Class Change will not be running, and C1 and CCX service will stop at midnight. Weather permitting, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, one CCX and one C1 bus will be in operation from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. An additional C1 will be running from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., according to the app.

The Swift Express will also be running from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Normal operations are scheduled to resume Monday.

Swift residents receive advisory about elevators, parking garage (Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 8:15 p.m.)

The 300 Swift parking garage will be opened at 10 a.m. Thursday as a location for Swift students to store their vehicles during the storm—even if they don't have a parking pass. All cars must be removed by noon on Tuesday, wrote Aneshia Jerralds, assistant dean for Central Campus, in an email.

Swift residents were also told that only one elevator in the complex would be active during the storm. There is a warning posted about elevator usage in the event of a possible power outage.

"It is important to note that due to the uncertainty in the power grid during a hurricane it is advised that residents utilize the stairs whenever possible," read a note near a 300 Swift elevator. "If you become trapped in the elevator due to a loss of power, use the button with the phone icon on it to alert authorities."

Florence downgraded to Category 3 Hurricane (Wednesday, Sept 12 at 8:00 p.m.)

The storm, now Category 3, will hit the Carolinas Friday with catastrophic winds and rain. Florence is expected to slow significantly upon hitting the coast but the rain and winds are not to be taken lightly. 

Peak winds decreased from 130 mph, but the storm grew in size, “which will create a significant storm surge event,” according to the National Hurricane Center. 

The storm's surge is expected to reach over 10 feet at peak. Winds will be strong enough to knock down trees and damage buildings.

Students receive email about parking in Science Drive garage (Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 3:00 p.m.)

Some students will not have to leave their cars parked in the elements. 

Andrew Hinz, senior operations manager for Duke Parking and Transportation Services, sent out an email Thursday afternoon permitting some students to park their cars in the Science Drive parking garage starting Thursday at 5 p.m. until Sunday at 9 p.m. 

"If you do not wish to park in the Science Drive garage during this weather event, your vehicle may remain in its assigned lot," Hinz wrote.

Storm shifts significantly southwest (Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 5:00 a.m.) 

The National Weather Service has reported that Florence has significantly shifted southwest from where it was previously expected to travel. This projected shift would leave Durham more out of harm's way than before. 

Most of Duke has underground power lines, but not 300 Swift (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 9:45 p.m.) 

In an email to residents, Aneshia Jerralds, assistant dean for central campus, said that power lines to 300 Swift, 301 Swift and Smart Home are above ground, leaving them more susceptible to debris and rain. The city of Durham has the ability to restore power in these buildings, but not Duke.


Moneta reassures that the Duke community "should be fine on campus" during the hurricane (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m)

Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, reiterated that classes will be canceled from Wednesday at 5pm to Saturday, while Duke will be on "Severe Weather" status until Thursday at 12pm. Moneta wrote that the Broadhead Center and Bryan Center will remain open during the hurricane, and that off-campus students have been instructed on how to take precautions.

He also confirmed that Duke does not plan to lose power.

"Generally, Duke does not ever lose power (have you noticed that there are no above ground power lines?) so we should be fine on campus," Moneta wrote.

Durham declares emergency (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m.)

In a media briefing Tuesday afternoon, Jim Groves, fire marshal and director of emergency management, announced that Durham County and the city of Durham signed a declaration of emergency.

The order allows Durham to get disaster assistance funding from the state and federal governments, and it relaxes regulations for facilities like nursing homes and homeless shelters.

Groves warned that Durham's emergency services will not respond once sustained wind speeds reach 40 mph.

Duke Recreation announces modified hours for fitness centers in email (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 5:35 p.m.) 

Wednesday, Sept. 12: Regular hours 

Thursday, Sept. 13: Wilson and Brodie Recreation Centers close at 8 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 14: Wilson and Brodie Recreation Centers closed all day

Saturday, Sept. 15: Wilson Recreation Center open 5 to 10 p.m, Brodie closed all day

Sunday, Sept. 16: Wilson and Brodie Recreation Centers open 9 am. to 10 p.m. 

Duke "safer than any home," unlikely to lose power, residence coordinator writes (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 5:20 p.m.) 

In an email to Edens residents, Edens residence coordinator Shelvis Ponds Jr. said that since Duke is on its own power grid, Duke's campus "almost never loses power." He also added that since Duke is a Red Cross site, it is "probably safer than any home." Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, also said that Duke's power should be stable. 

"As always, we are available to help and assist you during and after the storm," Moneta wrote in an email to graduate students. "Most power lines on Duke’s main campus are underground, so power supply should be fairly resilient, and we have stocked plenty of food on campus if you need a hot meal."

Florence could be largest storm ever in North Carolina (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 5:10 p.m.)

No Category 4 hurricane has ever struck North Carolina, and Florence could be the first, Business Insider reported. Only four Category 4 hurricanes have ever hit land north of Florida, according to the Weather Channel. 

RDU says the airport expects to see normal travel Wednesday, most airlines are offering fee waivers for changes to flights later in the week (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 2:30 p.m.)

Raleigh-Durham International Airport announced via Twitter Tuesday afternoon that the airport expects normal flight service to continue through Wednesday. 

The rest of the week's flights, however, are less certain. The airport stated that it did not yet have information from airlines about flights for Thursday or later. However, most airlines are offering travel waivers for later flights, the airport stated.

Information about specific flights can be found on the airport's flight status page.

Gov. Roy Cooper order mandatory evacuation of Outer Banks (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 2:25 p.m.)

In a news release Tuesday afternoon, Cooper ordered mandatory evacuations for barrier islands along the entire North Carolina coast.

“The waves and wind in this storm may be like nothing you have ever seen,” Cooper said in the release. “Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don't bet your life on riding out this monster.”

The news release also stated that President Donald Trump granted Cooper's request for a federal disaster declaration Monday night. 

Transportation updates (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 1:45 p.m.)

As of Tuesday, Parking and Transportation services is gearing up for the storm and Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, recommended that students try to not drive during the storm. 

Moneta wrote in an email to The Chronicle that he recommends students to "avoid driving as much as possible during the storm" and "avoid parking under tree limbs as best I can." 

PTS has obtained additional fuel for buses and is planning to rope off parking deck roofs Thursday evening, wrote Carl DePinto, the department's director, in an email to The Chronicle. Additionally, changes to the bus schedules or routes would be communicated to students through official channels.

President Price issues statement on incoming storm (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 1:40 p.m.)

In an email to the Duke community at approximately 1:40 p.m. Tuesday, President Vincent Price addressed the incoming storm. 

He wrote that the latest forecasts show Hurricane Florence arriving in the Triangle as early as Thursday evening, and that Duke has activated its emergency management procedures in preparation. 

"Our emergency management team is working closely with local and state officials to monitor the path of the hurricane, and we have mobilized our resources for a quick response as soon as conditions permit," Price wrote. "Duke Hospitals and clinics in particular are prepared to serve the health care needs of the region."

In addition to classes being canceled and athletic events being suspended, Price wrote that the University and Health System will enter its severe weather and emergency policy condition noon Thursday.

"As always, our first priority is the safety and security of our students, staff, faculty, patients, and visitors. I am grateful to the many people across the University and Health System who are now working around-the-clock to ensure that our campus is prepared for this storm," he wrote. "Thank you in advance for helping to maintain the distinctly Duke spirit of community and concern as we face this challenge."

Athletic events cancelled or postponed (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 11:00 a.m.)

After the initial DukeAlert regarding class cancellations and the state of emergency stated that all athletic events between Thursday and Sunday would be postponed or cancelled, The Iron Dukes Twitter account summed up the game-by-game situation.

Friday: Men's soccer vs. North Carolina is postponed and the men and women's tennis Bonk invitational is cancelled.

Saturday: Volleyball vs. North Dakota is cancelled.

Sunday: Field hockey vs. St. Joseph's is postponed and volleyball vs. North Carolina is postponed.

Additionally, the graduate school campout for men's basketball season tickets was postponed and the men and women's tennis Bonk invitational was cancelled.

Duke cancels classes (Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 9:30 a.m.)

The University announced in a DukeAlert Tuesday morning that classes would be canceled after 5:00 p.m. Wednesday. The campus will enter a state of emergency beginning at noon on Thursday. Medical personnel and police will still be on-call throughout the storm, the alert said, as will facilities crews.

OIT investigated issues with students testing DukeAlerts text messages (Monday, Sept. 10 at 9:49 p.m.)

"OIT staff are currently investigating reports of service issues with students testing their cell phone numbers for DukeALERT notifications," said an OIT status update post.

OIT updated the post 20 minutes later to note that students can still receive DukeALERTs, and that it is only the testing system not working properly.

At 10:22 p.m. that night, OIT updated the investigation report to say that though the mechanism to test the service was not working, students were still able to register for and receive the alerts.

University of North Carolina cancels classes (Monday, Sept. 10 at 8:56 p.m.)

In an Alert Carolina email to the student body, UNC announced that it was cancelling classes beginning at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday. The cancellations would extend the rest of the week.

"All students are strongly encouraged to leave the Chapel Hill area before the storm hits," the email stated. "Anyone who is traveling out of the path of the storm should do so no later than Wednesday evening."

Shooters II Saloon to remain open Wednesday (Monday, Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m.)

Shooters owner Kim Cates confirmed to The Chronicle that Shooters will be open Wednesday night, despite the oncoming storm. 

Lecture by Nobel Prize winner postponed at Medical School (Monday, Sept. 10 at 5 p.m.)

In a tweet, Duke Medical School announced that its Basic Science day that is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. Wednesday will proceed as scheduled. However, the lecture that was scheduled for later that day by Nobel Prize winner Robert Lefkowitz, James B. Duke professor of medicine, has been postponed. 

North Carolina State announces it will suspend classes (Monday, Sept. 10 at 4:35 p.m.) 

NC State University announced that it will suspend all classes from 5 p.m. Wednesday until 5 p.m. on Sunday. Residence halls and dining facilities are to remain open and athletic events are not necessarily affected. 

President Donald Trump tweets about safety precautions (Monday, Sept. 10 at 3:30 p.m.)

President Trump sent two tweets encouraging residents in the hurricane's path not to take the storm lightly.

"The Storms in the Atlantic are very dangerous. We encourage anyone in the path of these storms to prepare themselves and to heed the warnings of State and Local officials. The Federal Government is closely monitoring and ready to assist. We are with you!" he said in his first tweet.

Trump then mentioned that preparations had begun within the government to address the oncoming hurricane. 

"To the incredible citizens of North Carolina, South Carolina and the entire East Coast - the storm looks very bad! Please take all necessary precautions. We have already began mobilizing our assets to respond accordingly, and we are here for you!" he tweeted.

Larry Moneta emails students about steps Duke is taking to prepare (Monday, Sept. 10 at 2:15 p.m.)

Writing to students Monday afternoon, Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, explained the steps the University is taking to prepare for the impending storm. 

"Hurricane Florence is already classified as a 4 level hurricane and appears to bearing down on the North Carolina coast," he wrote. "It's too soon to know what impact this storm may have on the Triangle and on our campus, but we’re taking all necessary precautions."

If the decision is made to postpone or cancel classes, that information will be sent to students through DukeAlert. Student safety is the highest priority, he noted.

"Over the next day or so, the situation will become clearer and we’ll communicate plans as they develop," Moneta wrote. "Duke Dining is stocking up on food and arrangements are being made to secure the campus."

East Carolina University cancels classes Tuesday through Friday (Monday, Sept. 10 at 1:00 p.m.)

East Carolina University announced that classes held after 12 p.m. Tuesday would be cancelled for the remainder of the week due to Hurricane Florence. 

Located in Greenville, N.C., the university lies less than 100 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean and right in the projected path of the hurricane.

"All students are highly encouraged to travel home before the tropical storm force winds are expected to begin in Greenville on Wednesday night," an alert on the ECU website read.

Duke Marine Lab announces it will close Wednesday (Monday, Sept. 10 at 12:00 p.m.)

The Marine Lab, located on the North Carolina coast in Beaufort, announced Monday that it would be closing to all personnel at noon on Wednesday and that all students were being sent to Duke's main campus for housing. The lab has cancelled classes starting at noon on Tuesday and non-essential personnel will not be required to report to work on Wednesday.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster orders mandatory evacuations for South Carolina coastline (Monday, Sept. 10 at 11 a.m.)

Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered South Carolina's coastline to be evacuated, a mandate that could affect up to a million people. Schools in the state will be closed starting Tuesday.

"We are not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina," McMaster said in a press conference Monday afternoon. 

Gov. Roy Cooper sends letter to President Donald Trump asking for federal help (Monday, Sept. 10)

On Monday morning, Cooper sent a letter to the president requesting a federal disaster declaration to help the state get federal aid as quickly as possible, according to a news release from Cooper's website. 

“The forecast places North Carolina in the bull's eye of Hurricane Florence, and the storm is rapidly getting stronger,” Cooper said in the release.

Local meteorologist says the storm is rapidly intensifying (Sunday, Sept. 9 at 9:00 p.m.)

Wes Hohenstein, chief meteorologist at CBS 17, told The Chronicle Sunday night that the storm was rapidly intensifying, but is expected to drastically slow down when the eye makes landfall. As of Sunday night, Hurricane Florence was projected to make landfall Thursday afternoon.

Gov. Roy Cooper declares a state of emergency (Friday, Sept. 7)

Friday, Cooper declared a state of emergency for North Carolina and took steps to help farmers harvest crops and move livestock ahead of the storm.


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