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North Carolina colleges deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence

Storm leaves chemists wondering what will happen next

by Andrea Widener
September 20, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 38


Credit: University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Dobo Hall, home of UNC Wilmington's chemistry & biochemistry department, was damaged in Hurricane Florence.

Universities in the Wilmington, N.C., area took a direct blow from Hurricane Florence. At the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, the building housing the chemistry and biochemistry department was hit particularly hard.

“While the damage was extensive, it is not irreversible, and faculty and staff are hard at work developing a plan to accommodate classes normally held in Dobo [Hall], as well the work being done in offices and labs,” the university posted on its Facebook page on Sept. 19. No one at the university was available to speak about the specific problems, though. As of C&EN deadline, floodwaters blocked most entrances and exits from the city, and the university remained closed.

Kristina Mazzarone, a chemistry instructor at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, evacuated the area with her husband and two young children, so she hasn’t seen how her campus fared yet. She took precautionary steps to move all of the equipment in her second-floor lab away from windows into an interior lab prep space and cover it with plastic sheeting.

Though she doesn’t know when the school will start again, Mazzarone is already concerned how she will be able to make up at least two weeks of missed classes. “The missed laboratory days will be very difficult to recover,” she says.

She also worries whether students will be able to return when classes start. “Our students either commute or live in the area. If their housing is damaged, they would not be able to attend classes.”



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