Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

Awake58: Hurricane Florence

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Monday, September 24, 2018. Click here to subscribe. 

Hurricane Florence

Hello, neighbor. Awake58, powered by, is here once again. This week we are beginning to report on the aftermath of Hurricane Florence for thousands of residents. We are also highlighting our visits to Pamlico Community College, Beaufort County Community College, and Montgomery Community College. We also took batting practice with President Garrett Hinshaw.

Our friends and neighbors down east have been in our thoughts and prayers over the past ten days as Hurricane Florence struck our state and as the water continued to rise even as the storm moved on.

Fourteen community colleges were closed through mid-week last week with eleven of those remaining closed all week.

It is easy to feel powerless in the face of such a tremendous disaster, but I have long believed we can all pitch in to do something.

The following statewide organizations are all working on recovery if you wish to donate:

North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund

Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

United Way of North Carolina

Salvation Army of the Carolinas

North Carolina Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund 

If you wish to donate your time, feel free to respond to me directly with your location, and I will work to connect you to local opportunities.

Is your college one of those which was closed for the week? Did you have to cancel class? We want to hear your story. I have posed a question at the bottom of this email, but also feel free to respond directly to me by email. A critical part of our work at EducationNC is to be there to cover issues when the national press returns home. 

Thank you for reading. We’re here.

Join us on October 8th

We will be at the NC Community College System Conference in October. Will you? We will have a table at the conference and we hope you will say hi, but we also have something cool to announce.

We invite you to be our guest for a reception the evening of October 8th at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh featuring Sam Jones BBQ, additional food, drinks, and live music. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m.

This event is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the John M Belk Endowment. The event is free, but space is limited so RSVP today by clicking here.

What is Awake58?

In case you were forwarded this email and are wondering what we are, Awake58 is a weekly newsletter from We’ve been covering early childhood education and our K-12 system since 2015. We’re now covering our community colleges. If you were forwarded this email, click here to join us on this journey.

EdNC also features four other newsletters. The Daily Digest brings you essential education news each morning Monday through Friday, the Weekly Wrap-Up provides you a one stop for all EdNC articles each Friday, Friday@Five is our exploration of public policy from the Center for Public Policy Research, and the Reach Roundup brings your voice into the conversation around the issues of the day. Click here to subscribe to any or all!

EdNC Reads

Baseball and leadership at Catawba Valley Community College

President Garrett Hinshaw discusses his ⚾️career, the lessons he gained from the baseball diamond, and how he has applied them throughout his community college career.

Beaufort County Community College: A tale of three students

Molly Osborne visited Beaufort County Community College during our recent tour of all 58 community colleges. Dr. Dave Loope, president of BCCC, told Molly his goal is to “marry the relationship between folks who live here and want to stay here and have a sustainable wage.”

‘Small but mighty’ Pamlico Community College

Liz Bell visited the smallest community college in North Carolina and explored the college’s recidivism program, which President Jim Ross described by saying, “What has become clear to me is that we need to have a philosophy, when someone goes into prison, the very first day is a beginning of an educational process to enable them to be successful human beings.”


Finding a niche in a community, our state, our nation: Montgomery Community College

Mebane Rash turned her ?towards the bladesmithing, gunsmithing, and pottery programs at Montgomery Community College.


Community College board reflects on hurricane, career coaches


A-B Tech: Fueling local economies in the Asheville metro


Worth your time

Why is college in America so expensive?

This long read is worth spending time with as we consider the future of post-secondary education in North Carolina. Amanda Ripley ends her piece by declaring, “This convoluted, complicated, inconsistent system continues to exist, and continues to be so expensive because college in America is still worth the price. At certain colleges, for certain people. Especially if they finish. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and almost everywhere else, it isn’t.”

SCC featured in educational spotlight

The Sampson Independent wrote up our visit to Sampson Community College.

If ‘free college’ sounds too good to be true, that’s because it often is

We’ve explored the issue of free college in Awake58 in recent weeks. Check out this look at free college programs from NPR.

Duplin Connection key for new PCC president

The Reflector explores President Lawrence Rouse’s background as he takes the helm of Pitt Community College.

Three quick questions with Ken Boham

Our three quick questions this week were posed to Dr. Ken Boham who is currently serving as Interim President of James Sprunt Community College, which serves Duplin County and surrounding areas. James Sprunt has faced significant challenges post-Hurricane Florence.

  1. What have the days since Hurricane Florence been like for you and your staff?

Ken Boham: It has been very difficult to know that I am extremely fortunate to be at my home in Wake County and safe without experiencing difficulties from the hurricane. I can only watch the devastation on tv and communicate with employees by text and phone. That has been sporadic at times with cell reception and no power for days. Received word today that power may be back up in Kenansville by 9:00 pm tonight. Many employees are without power, water and making it the best they can. Received word yesterday that one employee was just evacuated from her home by boat. It’s one thing to watch it on tv, but to know that people you know and work with are suffering, is very difficult. I feel so for all that have been affected. The text chain of employees that I am communicating with lets me know that they are making it through and safe.  We are in the business of helping people, so it is a different scenario when help is needed. We are strong, nimble, and resilient and will recover — for those that need us the most will need us even more now. 

  1. With roads still impassable, how is James Sprunt going about beginning to assess the damage and put a plan together for resuming classes?

KB: I just received a text from our security saying that the roads are still flooded and people are dying from driving through flooded roads. That makes it tough to completely assess the facilities and the damage. I would not want anyone to endanger themselves trying to get to campus and put themselves in peril. After the power is restored and travel is safe, we will go about resuming classes. We are in the process now, as I write this, to make decisions regarding the damage assessment process once power is restored. We in the Community College System say that for our students “life happens” to them. This is life happening. Some may need time to step away and take care of friends, families, neighbors and other loved ones. They may step back for a semester and not return, not drop out…but, stop out. We are discussing and will meet to put in place a plan to make up the hours missed and the resuming of classes. Online classes have been affected since no power, no internet. We have a plan in place. We will execute that plan to make up the time before the end of the semester. We can add time to remaining classes, assign additional work, and possibly add a few days to the semester, depending on the class.

  1. What are the most urgent needs for colleges like yours, Cape Fear, Carteret, and others who remain closed and face varying paths to recovery?

KB: There has been a chain of communication from sister colleges offering assistance to colleges affected. Prayers are definitely needed now for all. After assessments are done regarding facilities, some may need to relocate classes in temporary facilities, and the clean up process will be the first order of business. I am also concerned with the ability to ensure that employees are paid on time and they have access to resources desperately needed now. The process to reopen and provide services to our communities is priority one. Once the assessments are done and travel is safe, we will know what assistance will be needed. It is heartwarming to know that people stand at the ready to help!! Some colleges affected are in differing conditions of damage so I can’t speak to the individual needs of the colleges, but thoughts and prayers and the offer of assistance is, again, uplifting. It will take time and patience to get back up and serving our people.

By the numbers

36 Colleges

36 of 58 colleges had either partial or full closures from the storm. That is over half of the system ranging geographically from Carteret to Mayland.

22% of the system

14 community colleges missed all of last week due to Hurricane Florence. By FTE, 22% of the system missed an entire week of classes from the storm.

17 Counties

17 counties in eastern North Carolina have made disaster declarations thus far.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.