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MACU student worries about Florence-devastated hometown

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Amber Goodyear, a junior at Mid-Atlantic Christian University majoring in youth and family ministry, talks about the impact of Hurricane Florence on her hometown in Wilmington, Wednesday.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, September 21, 2018

Amber Goodyear was not in Wilmington when Hurricane Florence tore into her hometown with ferocious winds, violent storm surge and relentless rainfall — effectively turning the port city into an island cut off from the rest of the state.

Goodyear, a student at Mid-Atlantic Christian University, took refuge in Goldsboro with her grandparents as Florence was approaching and only returned to Elizabeth City on Tuesday afternoon, still not sure when she would make it back to Wilmington.

But her father, an emergency medical service professional, stayed in Wilmington and worked nearly nonstop from when the storm hit until Tuesday night.

“He finally got to go home last night for two days and then he works this weekend,” Goodyear said in an interview Wednesday on the MACU campus.

Goodyear said her street flooded but floodwaters apparently didn’t get inside her family’s house.

“It’s on a little bit higher ground,” she said.

The Goodyears’ home is about 10 minutes from Wrightsville Beach and is not particularly close to either the Atlantic Ocean or the Cape Fear River, Goodyear explained.

A tree fell in the yard but did not strike the house, Goodyear said, adding “it was close.”

Some low-lying areas in Wilmington — especially older neighborhoods that lack the elevation requirements in newer codes — did get floodwaters inside houses, Goodyear said, but “it was mostly streets” that flooded in newer neighborhoods.

The couple who teach her Sunday School class live in Pender County and had water inside their house Tuesday after a river crested there, Goodyear said.

The mother of a girl she went to high school with was killed when a tree fell on their house, Goodyear said. The mother’s 8-month-old baby also was killed in the incident, she said.

Goodyear’s father is the only member of the family who has been in the city since the storm. Goodyear said she doesn’t know when she will make it back but expects she will help with debris cleanup once she gets there.

Meanwhile, a number of Elizabeth City State University students from hard-hit areas still have not made it back to the ECSU campus.

ECSU officials are striving to stay in contact with students in hard-hit areas.

“We do have a number of students who have been affected by the storm and we are working with them to make sure that they have what they need,” ECSU spokesman Robert Kelly-Goss said Thursday.

The university will give consideration to students in special circumstances, he said.

“We’re accommodating them in every way possible,” Kelly-Goss said of students in areas hit hard by the storm.

College of The Albemarle reported that some students who live on or very near rivers, the sound or the ocean mentioned being on edge as the storm approached and grateful that the impact here was not greater than it was.

Goodyear is glad to be back on the MACU campus even though it’s been a challenge to focus on her studies during such a time of uncertainty in her hometown.

“I’m trying to just stay in close contact with my family, calling and face-timing every day,” Goodyear said, adding that the contact has helped her.

A junior majoring in youth and family ministry, Goodyear said her experience with Florence has spurred her to grow in faith.

“It’s been a little challenging but it’s been more of a growth opportunity than anything,” Goodyear said. “I had to trust in (God) and rely on his strength instead of my own.”

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