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Bye, Florence: Perspectives on the Hurricane

Bye, Florence: Perspectives on the Hurricane

I’ve experienced hurricanes before. Fran. Bertha. Bonnie. Floyd. Isabel. Matthew. Those are a few. Hurricane Florence was different, though. It was the first dangerous hurricane I had experienced as an adult. It was the first hurricane where I was a homeowner. It was the first time I really realized how easily power and control can be taken away. It’s also when I noticed quite a few things as well.

Sometimes children are shielded from the reality of hurricanes.

When I was younger, everyone in the immediate family on my mom’s side, who lived close, would go to my grandma’s brick house to weather hurricanes. I would get excited. There were tons of snacks and food. We played games and watched movies until the power would go out. Sleeping in our sleeping bags on grandma’s living room floor made it feel like a big slumber party with all of my cousins. Sure, we lost power for days and during a couple of hurricanes we didn’t have running water, but that is a hazy memory for me. What should have been a scary time was exciting for us as kids. 

Now as an adult, I realize how much my parents protected us from what really happened before, during, and after hurricanes. The decisions, the preparation, the shopping, the emotions. All of it. Obviously since I was a child I have experienced hurricanes, but not like Florence.

The media/news caters to the beaches and ignores rural and inland areas. 

It’s true. This was the first observation me and my husband made. We lost power for four days and relied on two radio stations in our cars to update us on the latest news. We didn’t have cell service because cell towers were down, which also meant no internet. No internet means you can’t access important government websites, local news sites, etc. to keep yourself informed. Radio stations continued to say, “look online for latest updates” or “check online to see where assistance after the hurricane will be”, but thousands of people were not able to do that.

There was a heavy focus on Wilmington, NC and its surrounding beaches, while simultaneously ignoring other surrounding counties and the severity of their conditions. It was very frustrating. It’s something that always happens even though you’d think it wouldn’t with technology today. There was a huge disconnect. 

 Not everyone can evacuate.

Tens of thousands of people fled from Wilmington as Hurricane Florence approached the region for a T-bone collision. But guess what? Not everyone has the luxury of being able to get up and leave.
Why? There isn’t a vehicle. They have multiple pets that can’t be taken to a hotel, someone else’s home, or a shelter. NC is a Right to Work state (job loss if they can’t return quick enough). They have to pay for gas, unexpectedly, to leave. Elderly or sick family members cannot travel. Not everyone has a credit card for emergencies and not everyone has a savings account, either. Poverty is real.

 

Poverty and race divisions are still real in the aftermath of a hurricane.

I read an article yesterday titled “North Carolina’s Problem Isn’t Florence, It’s Poverty” and it put into words what I had been thinking. Three parts stood out the most:

“Poverty has always been a flood and not a hurricane. It’s always been a slow, rolling disaster…look away.”
“We already know where the flood waters will go. They will follow a slow, predictable path. We know who lives in low lying areas, we know what neighborhoods are on the south side of the tracks...”
“That’s the predictable slow drip of poverty. All your life you’ve watched the water rise, knowing no one is coming to get you. After all, they told you to get out.”

Wilmington’s Northside community is predominately black but is only a couple of miles from white neighborhoods. This area continues to be overlooked. People in Houston Moore (government subsidized housing complex) were blasted on the news for looting Family Dollar, but when there are white people doing the same thing, the media says “they were finding food.” You know I’m right. 

Categorizing hurricanes needs to be reevaluated. 

I’m no meteorologist but the aftermath of Hurricane Florence makes this extremely obvious. 


Along with all of that…  

I do know one thing: this hurricane allowed a lot of time for me to listen to God and really see what he was doing. When our power went out it forced me to self-reflect on how much I tried to control everything. It forced me to acknowledge how I took things for granted. I remember thinking about how I was complaining about the price of our electric bill, but in the midst of having no AC, I realized how trivial that was. I realized that I needed to be thankful that I can pay my electric bill. Our house is not damaged, but I experienced the fear of not knowing if a tree could fall through our roof. I experienced the fear of not knowing if our home would be flooded after seeing the back of our neighborhood submerged in water. Knowing that I couldn’t physically get to my parents was not fun. I was inconvenienced for a few days, but God used that to show me how easily what I’m blessed with can be taken away. 

When our power went out it forced me to self-reflect on how much I tried to control everything. It forced me to acknowledge how I took things for granted. I remember thinking about how I was complaining about the price of our electric bill, but in the midst of having no AC, I realized how trivial that was. I realized that I needed to be thankful that I can pay my electric bill.

He made it so the only power I had was to have faith in Him. 

Sincerely,
Lettie

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