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College students from LI flee North Carolina ahead of Hurricane Florence

Some students are already back home with their families on Long Island.

Smiti Shah, 18, on the campus of Duke

Smiti Shah, 18, on the campus of Duke University where she's a freshman. Shah, of Bethpage, said she'll hunker down in her dorm while Hurricane Florence passes. Photo Credit: Jenny Liu

As Hurricane Florence approached the North Carolina coast, Long Island families scrambled to make arrangements for the students who just moved into colleges in the storm’s path.

Quinlan and Jack Ferrante, 20, of Muttontown, and their family didn’t want to take any chances. The twin brothers flew home Wednesday morning at the urging of their parents, a little more than two weeks into the semester at Duke University, they said.

Quinlan Ferrante, a junior, said he wasn’t worried about safety at Duke, between the school’s inland location and its facilities, which include a hospital and buried power lines. But outside the campus, grocery stores and gas stations were running low on supplies.

Quinlan Ferrante stayed on campus for smaller storms in 2016 and 2017. News reports of Florence’s fury reminded his parents of superstorm Sandy and family members who became trapped in Long Beach, he said.

“We couldn’t get in touch with them for a few hours,” he said. “My parents were very worried and I don’t think they wanted to repeat anything.”

The brothers purchased tickets Monday for a Wednesday evening flight, then switched to an earlier morning flight when airlines started to change flight schedules. They have tickets for a return flight Sunday.

John Dong, 18, of Glen Cove said he wasn't sure when he would return to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Like the Ferrantes, Dong also made a trip home, not wanting to risk getting stuck in the storm.

The freshman purchased an overnight bus ticket after UNC canceled classes Tuesday. He arrived home Wednesday morning and is waiting until the storm passes before buying a return ticket.

"I called my parents before and they were like, ‘Yeah go for it. Don’t want you staying by yourself down there,’ ” he said.

Smiti Shah, 18, of Bethpage just started her first year at Duke and is staying put. In the last few days, her parents have been reminding her to buy supplies and closely monitor the forecast.

“They aren’t nervous; they just wanted to make sure I was prepared,” she said.

Many of her fellow students decided to go home, she said. But the ones who are staying are from out of state, like her. As a Sandy survivor, she's been sharing her expertise on major storms.

“Some people are from like Arizona or New Mexico and have never been through a hurricane, so I’ve been telling them what to expect — high winds, heavy rain, that you don’t want to be out during the peak of the storm at all,” Shah said.

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