Let me start by apologizing for not posting a blog last Sunday, September 15th, things were a little hectic in this area. We were in the last days of dealing with hurricane Florence. We went several days with no power, no WiFi and no internet. I have lived in the same small town, across the Cape Fear River from Wilmington NC, my entire life. I have been through several tropical storms and many hurricanes in my fifty three years, but I have never lived through what hurricane Florence brought to our front door. This hurricane was large, it was powerful and it was slow. This storm brought rain unlike any storm I have ever seen before. In most cases a hurricane will make landfall and be gone in a less than a day, I am referring to the very first heavy rain band until the last warm breeze hours later. They usually come, dump inches of rain, do their destruction and leave. Florence must have really been tired from her journey across the Atlantic Ocean, because she decided to sit down right here on the entire southern coast of North Carolina and visit for a while. For two and a half days she poured rain from her dark nemising clouds, and her winds blew continually, only stopping as if she was taking a deep breath to blow again.
I have seen the best in people and I have seen the worst. I have seen humans giving everything they have to help a neighbor and I have seen humans taking everything a neighbor has. I have seen people giving, because they have extra, and others having nothing. I have seen people taking from another, just because they can. I have seen damage from wind and I have seen devastation from water. I have seen entire homes flooded and everything within the walls of that home lost to the rivers, creeks, lakes and the 2 plus feet of rain Florence poured on our part of the world. I have seen first responders rescue families from their roof tops and I have seen people steal a family’s last gallon of gas from their generator. I have seen insurance companies, contractors and charitable organization helping the masses with answers, repairs, shelter and food. I have also seen the bottom feeders of the world trying to take the last dollar a family has pretending to be one of the good guys. Times like these bring out the good in so many, and unfortunately, it brings out the worst as well. The power workers, the linemen, the men and woman that leave their families to travel hours, even days, to come to our towns, our cities, our neighborhoods to help. The few that complain because someone else has power and they still don’t. These linemen put their own lives in danger trying to restore what we have come to take for granted and they do it for complete strangers.
The saddest day, for me, was Wednesday the 19th day of September. I received a call from my brother, he was at his storage unit and it had flooded. Almost two feet of water had filled his unit and several containers that held so many precious memories. All the memories of his children, the books, the journals, the photographs all destroyed. All the books that he and my sister in law had read to their children as they grew and saved to read to their grandchildren. The retirement memories from my brothers school, my grandfathers bible, my sister in laws hope chest that held so many cherished items. As I stood there and looked at years of memories stuffed in garbage bags, it broke my heart. I knew how much each and every memory meant to them. They kept saying over and over again, “It is just stuff, we still have each other.” No matter, it still hurts to see so many years of your life ravished, ruined and now residing in large black plastic bags bound for the county landfill. So many items never to be looked at or held again. So many things that will not cover the walls of their new home, so many trinkets and souvenirs that would bring a smile as it sat on a shelf, gone. My sister in law came over to me and gave me a big hug, I thought to myself I should be hugging her. Then she said these words, “We have lost a lot, but you have lost so much more.” What a loving and profound statement that fit our situation and the situation of so many after a catastrophic storm. Possessions can be replaced, houses can be rebuilt, new memories can be made, but nothing can replace the loss of a loved one.