Today I am sitting in the calm watching the wrath of Hurricane Florence bear down on the coast of North Carolina. This is my state and it is gutting to watch another disaster unfurl before my eyes. Especially knowing I have someone I care so much for sitting in Wilmington weathering the storm alone.
I despise hurricanes. I never knew anything about them until my husband and I started dating in 1995.
I was living in Maine at the time and he came up to do some ‘leaf peeping’ in October – prime for autumnal color. We stopped for a late lunch at the Black Pearl in Rockland – a cozy seaside restaurant. The deck was closed in with heavy plastic and the waves were whipping over the seawall. Everyone was busy securing boats and anything capable of being blown around. After asking a few questions, we realized these waves were remnants of Hurricane Opal, an extremely devastating hurricane that had made its way all the way from the Gulf Coast to Canada.
Fast forward almost a year, we planned an amazing wedding in Charleston, SC with a honeymoon to follow in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That was before Hurricane Fran was predicted to hit Charleston. I will not go into the details of the havoc that caused on our preparations – another post for another day – but anything non-essential like wedding plans came to a screeching halt. Suddenly, the storm made a turn and eventually made landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina. We dodged a bullet on that one but with hurricanes, not everyone is spared. North Carolina was hit hard.
Things were pretty calm for us personally until 1999 when Hurricane Floyd was threatening Florida. That was the first and last time we fell for the suggestion of duct taping your windows. It does nothing for you and it is a mess to clean up. The storm again turned, hit the Bahamas and up the east coast of the states before making landfall in Cape Fear, North Carolina. Eastern North Carolina had been hit just weeks earlier by Hurricane Dennis.
Fast forward to 2004. We purchased a house in the beautiful community of Winter Park, Florida. The house was very modern with a flat roof and windows everywhere. We knew the roof would need to be replaced soon but we were so much in love with this house! It was our dream home.
August rolled around and Hurricane Charley came into the picture. Unfortunately, the track changed rather quickly and we had less than half a day to prepare. There was barely time to get water, gas and food before the storm was on its way. The eye of the storm passed directly over us. It was surreal. We were without power for 7 days. Destruction was everywhere. All the roads to our neighborhood were completely blocked.
After going through Charley weeks earlier, we were concerned when Hurricane Frances came on the horizon. We were fortunate enough to find some blue board to put on the big windows in the house. It was dark and depressing and we paced the floor worrying about the roof that needed to be replaced. Thank the Lord, we made it through with no roof damage.
But Mother Nature wasn’t done yet. Hurricane Jeanne also came through that year. We left the house boarded up for two months. We had some minor damage with fencing and trees and of course loss of power during those three storms that year, but we had come out unscathed. It was a frightening time. A lot of people moved out of Florida that year.
We eventually retired to our beloved North Carolina and were finally away from hurricanes or so we thought. Last year Hurricane Irma was looming and our children and new granddaughter were in the path of the storm. So many people were being evacuated that roads were clogged and gas was hard to come by. People who tried to evacuate often turned around and returned to Florida. They made the very hard decision to stay. The fear of being stranded on the highway with a newborn and two cats will make you consider all options.
We stayed on the phone with them all night. These storms that come in the dark of night take a toll on your nerves. But God watched over them through the storm. They were blessed. We were blessed. They made it through the most frightening night of their lives with no damage and no loss of power. We all went to bed around 5:00 am when the worst of the storm had passed.
Now we watch and wait for the remnants of Hurricane Florence to arrive here. The waiting is so hard, but we are not in the worst of it. So many people are already experiencing the wrath of such a storm. We have good friends and family scattered throughout the Carolinas. It is hard to wait, knowing the power is out and will likely be out for weeks. We just pray and pray and pray that everyone makes it through okay.
I joke with my husband that had I not met him I am not sure I would have this on-again off-again relationships with hurricanes. They have become a big part of the story of our lives. We have been fortunate through it all and we always have a tale to tell. And truthfully, I don’t blame him totally! 🙂
I am constantly praying for everyone’s safety and that the storm will soon pass for all of us. Stay safe. Stay diligent.