Hurricane Matthew a nightmare for fall sports

Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew is wreaking havoc on the area in a way that hasn’t quite been seen since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Post-storm flooding since Saturday has turned the county’s high school schedules upside down.

When Floyd hit, Northside athletic director Charles Clark was working at then-Chocowinity High School as a teacher and on the football coaching staff. The team tried to minimize lost practice time, but it was hard to get off of the island that Washington had become.

“It’s a funny story because I lived in Washington. We actually kept practicing football after the first day or two we were out of school,” Clark said. “So I would have to drive from Washington to Bayview, get on the ferry and take the ferry across the river to Chocowinity because that’s where we were practicing.

“You couldn’t get across the bridge to go from Chocowinity to Washington. Washington was like on an island. You couldn’t go to Greenville because 264 was flooded out at the Pitt County line.”

That lasted a week.

Clark said Floyd, and now Matthew, are unlike more recent hurricanes like Irene and Isabelle.

“Our No. 1 goal is our students and community safety and wellbeing,” Clark said. “As far as damage, this isn’t as bad, but the flooding is causing problems. The massive power outages are causing problems with people being able to communicate.”

Volleyball, soccer and tennis game have already been rescheduled or cancelled. Northside and Southside were slated for a rivalry showdown in Chocowinity on Monday.

Tiffany Oliver breaks a serve in a conference meeting with Jones Senior. Volleyball seasons across the county are in danger because of Hurricane Matthew and the flooding it brought.

Tiffany Oliver breaks a serve in a conference meeting with Jones Senior. Volleyball seasons across the county are in danger because of Hurricane Matthew and the flooding it brought.

Sports will not be played as long as the flooding holds students out of school.

“If we’re not in school, we can’t play,” Southside athletic director Sean White said. “Unless it’s like the Friday after Thanksgiving. If we’re out of school for a holiday, it’s different.

“We tried to go in this morning, and as soon as we got there, the power goes out. There’s a line down in Chocowinity that they’re working on. They turned everyone away this morning from teachers going in and having work day.”

Games will likely continue falling to the flooding until schools open back up.

“I don’t know if we’re going to play anything this week,” Washington athletic director Jon Blank said. “We’re kind of taking it day-by-day, kind of seeing what each school system is doing. … I don’t see us playing any Pitt County teams or any conference teams this week. I don’t think the travel is going to allow it.”

County schools have already started talking about what to do about Friday’s football games. All three games are in danger. Washington and Southside are both scheduled to be at home, and Northside is slated to travel to Pamlico County.

White said that Southside is already in talks with Jones Senior about moving their game to early next week. Blank said that Washington and Southwest Edgecombe have already decided to postpone their game to an undecided date.

The timing of this storm is a nightmare for fall sports. Cross country, soccer and volleyball are all coming up on the reporting deadlines for the playoffs. When Irene came through, it impacted non-conference games, which can be cancelled. Now that fall sports are in the thick of their conference season, these games have to be played.

“You’re at the tail end of the season for soccer, volleyball and cross country,” Clark said. “All of these events have to be made up, or at least you would think they have to be made up because they affect conference standings, which affects the playoffs.”

White added, “Volleyball is coming up on the reporting deadline for playoffs next Wednesday or Thursday. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to make up all of those or not. It’s pretty crazy. The last time I remember (something like this) was two years ago when we had to cancel our basketball tournament because of snow.”

The Washington Daily News will continue to update changed to the sports schedules as they happen.