On the day Hurricane Florence destroyed her hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, sophomore Madie Schider, affectionately dubbed “the little hurricane” by her teammates, was spiking, digging, and blocking her way through a volleyball game against the University of Findlay.
Schider spent the week prior to the game and the storm worrying about the outcome of both. Her team won the game, and she woke up on Sept. 15, the day after the storm, to the news that her that her home, only 30 feet above sea level, was miraculously untouched by the worst of Florence.
When Hurricane Florence struck North Carolina two weeks ago, it left a path of devastation in its wake. A category four storm as it approached the eastern seaboard, destructive winds over 100 miles per hour accompanied Florence. By the time the storm made landfall as a category one, towns along the eastern seaboard were flooded and windswept, roofs were blown off, and houses were crushed by fallen trees. Wilmington, a relatively small coastal town in North Carolina, suffered the initial onslaught.
When Schider first heard the storm was coming, she was unfazed.
“I didn’t really process it until the day before, and I saw all the data that it was going to be a category four, and my hometown was going to be wiped out,” Schider said.
It wasn’t until her assistant coach, Rick Langston, informed her about the storm that she began to realize the severity of the situation. Langston was even the first to suggest to Schider that her parents should consider evacuating Wilmington.
“That’s when I started looking up facts about how bad it really was going to be,” Schider said. “And I immediately called my parents, and told them they had to leave.”
Schider soon discovered that her family already planned to evacuate. They decided wait out the storm in a home they owned in Hillsdale.
“My parents and my older brother Quinn, they all drove up here with my cat and my dog,” Schider said. “They didn’t really know what they were getting back to. It took them 25 hours to get around everything. The main road in is a river; there was no way to get in unless you had a boat.”
While Schider and her family were fortunate to return to an undamaged home, some of their favorite haunts have been destroyed forever.
“I just saw pictures of my favorite restaurant, and it’s completely destroyed. A tree just squished it,” Schider said. “And at the gas station I usually go to, the roof completely fell off. I don’t think I ever really fully grasped it until I saw those pictures. It seems like a story almost.”
Throughout the build up and reconstruction of the storm, Schider emphasized how supportive her team and coaches were.
She also commented, laughing, that most of them, being from the Midwest, had no idea how severe a hurricane could be.
“I told them a category four was going to hit my house and they were like ‘What’s that?’ So that was funny to see,” Schider said. “But once they understood, they were all very supportive. They kept me sane, and took my mind off of it, which I really appreciated. In those situations, you either talk about it or don’t, and I think it is best to just not talk about it and wait. In the meantime, I literally had another mom and dad and 16 sisters to get me through. The team really helped.”