Personal Essay

Hurricane Hardship

I wrote this during Hurricane Florence and after it had hit our state, that time was such a rollercoaster of emotions. I watched hours and hours of footage of Hurricane Florence and it’s effects on the coastline and inland areas of North Carolina – my home. North Carolina is not just my home now, but my birthplace. My ancestors have been here for many years and my husband and I have long roots in this state. I grew up in the Piedmont, in the town of Mebane. It used to be a small town with one stoplight that would turn to blinking after midnight. Now it is crowded with large communities, many businesses and so many people, it is hard to drive around. 

My emotions were all over the place last weekend. First the hurricane was predicted to hit another state and then it was heading to North Carolina. All along I told myself that hurricanes never go where they are predicted to go. As the hours counted down to landfall, Florence was heading directly toward our condo, then not, then who knows? This pull on one’s emotions, during one of life’s stressful and horrific events, effects us all to some degree. I waffled between terror over the imminent destruction of my second home, my slice of heaven, and guilt over the people that would lose their only home if it hit somewhere else.

I watched hours and hours of footage of Hurricane Florence and it’s effects on the coastline and inland areas of North Carolina – my home. North Carolina is not just my home now, but my birthplace. My ancestors have been here for many years and my husband and I have long roots in this state. Our business is in Raleigh. Then after all the agony, it hit somewhere else. But during the event, you don’t really know what is happening unless your house happens to be right where a reporter chooses to be. No reporters were allowed on the barrier islands and we are still cut off from them today due to lack of power, water and sewer. But no complaining from me, we are the lucky ones. According to the authorities that run Ocean Isle, we are fine and very lucky to have missed the bulk of the hurricane. There are many people working very hard to help, rescue, recover and repair. We owe them the largest debt of gratitude possible. We are very fortunate in Raleigh and have been spared the worst  part of the terrible winds and rains in our area.

Our business is in Raleigh. We missed a bullet here, but Florence did not spare our southeastern counties or South Carolina. We watched as Florence grew and grew and finally hit somewhere else, Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington. During the hurricane, we had no idea what was really happening to our beach and property. You hope a reporter will choose to be close by so someone can tell you or show you, but not Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel, that seems to be the death knell. No reporters were allowed on the barrier islands and we were cut off from them for days due to lack of power, water and sewer. But no complaining from me, we are the lucky ones. After a survey from the authorities of our island, we were fine and very lucky to have missed the bulk of the hurricane. Helpers flooded into that side of the state to repair and fix. We owe them the largest debt of gratitude possible.  

But our dear friends in Wilmington were not so lucky. We were just in Wilmington recently for the beautiful wedding of two friends. To watch the young couple say their vows and rejoice with their parents are memories that we will carry with us a lifetime. There is nothing like a wedding to renew your own sense of joy and love. It brought back memories of my own small wedding – the love and happiness of the moment and relaxation that flowed through my body when the deed was completed. I remember that day like yesterday even though it was over 32 years ago. Now that both of my parents are no longer alive and my husband’s father have passed, I cherish the memories of them being part of that day. My husband’s mother is still with us at the amazing age of 92. She is suffering the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease and she seems to know us, but she does not have the memories that this once, razor-sharp woman could recall at a second’s notice. 

We were all in Wilmington celebrating together one weekend and sadly watching the destruction the next. I finally had to stop watching, it was too sad to know the number of people that were effected. We made it down to check on our place, and it was fine except for a little leak that can be fixed. There is so much heartache and loss that a little paint cannot fix in other places. It was so sad to hear about all the loss of life. But when you see some of the flooding and devastation, you know that many people and animals were saved by amazing, first responders and neighbors. The amount of help that flowed into the area with the flood waters after the hurricane finally exited, was so heartwarming. 

I think the emotions of the hurricane have worn me out – the loss of life and property, the amazing stories of rescue, the kindness of strangers, and the feeling of unity with our neighbors and the nation. All of these many parts of the hurricane’s aftermath made me proud to be part of this state and nation. I hope that we all continue to keep the feelings of kindness and pride in our fellow man and woman as we slowly get back to our daily lives. Put down the computers, the telephones, cut off the news and TV, hug your kids, and be present. And please give generously to the unfortunate people who lost so much and the hard-working police, fire fighters, power crews and volunteers, because next time it could be you or me.

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