ROCKFORD – Former Belvidere North swimmer Abby Hawkes just started her junior year at UNC-Wilmington, where she swims for the Seahawks. But with Hurricane Florence heading toward the North Carolina coast, she made the decision to leave town and return to Boone Co. on Tuesday.
“It’s so terrifying,” Hawkes, a former WREX Athlete of the Week, said. “I have absolutely no idea what to expect, especially living in the Midwest my entire life. I’m not very experienced when it comes to hurricanes.”
She did get some experience her freshman year. She left town ahead of Hurricane Matthew, going to a teammate’s house in Charlotte. Matthew brought major flooding to Eastern North Carolina. With this storm projected to be even stronger, she made a quick decision to come home this week.
“Usually I’d be so, so, so happy to be home,” Hawkes said. “But under the circumstances it’s kind of heartbreaking.”
Hawkes is staying in swimming shape by working out with her old high school club team, McGuire Aquatics. While she loves her hometown, she’s grown to love Wilmington the past two years. She can’t help but worry about the city in which she’s already made so many great memories.
“One hundred percent of my heart is in Wilmington,” she said. “To see that some place I love so much could be in such danger, it’s really devastating. I shed a lot of tears on the plane ride home, that’s for sure. I just keep hoping and praying that Wilmington will survive this.”
One of Hawkes’ potential career paths is in natural disaster psychology. This could be a moment for her to see if it’s something she really wants to pursue. But for now, she’s hoping for the best for Wilmington. She says she knows the city will survive, and she’ll survive, watching with a hawk-eyed view from afar as Florence hits the city she loves.