Hurricane Florence: A Storm of Emotions

| by Staci Barfield

As a resident of the Carolinas most of my life, I’ve seen my fair share of weather events. Extreme heat, freak snowstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes are the unfortunate price we pay for living in such a great locale. However, Hurricane Florence brought up new emotions — some of which I am still processing — and a fresh perspective on our community.

Like many others, I anxiously followed the predictions about the path and potential impact of Florence, concern growing as the storm appeared to be making a direct line toward my tree-surrounded home in the Triangle. To prepare, I stocked up on canned goods, junk food, ice, water, and wine. I made sure candles, flashlights, and batteries were easily accessible. I stored outdoor furniture, parked my car in the garage, and verified my elderly neighbors had what they needed. As the storm hovered in the Atlantic, the phrase “hurry up and wait” seemed to most accurately describe the scenario. Supplies at the ready, I heeded the warnings to stay in, checking on friends with coastal homes and reassuring loved ones that I was ready for the pounding that was sure to come.

And then it didn’t. Not here, anyway, in the way it was expected. 

Anxiety turned to relief as I realized the hurricane had — for the most part — bypassed the Triangle. But relief soon turned to concern as Florence made a beeline for my mother’s house in the Sandhills. And concern turned to helplessness as I saw the reports of flooding in New Bern, damage to the coastal area, lost crops and livestock, and widespread power outages throughout the state. As I write this, some parts of North Carolina have already received 40 inches of rain, 32 people have lost their lives, and Duke Energy is reporting more than 300,000 customers (including my mother) are still without electricity.

During this last week, I have also watched the amazing efforts of my colleagues in the nonprofit sector. They readied shelters for those displaced from their homes, mobilized food and supplies, and have already begun clean-up efforts. While many of us were waiting out the storm, they were creating the infrastructure needed to recover from it. They — along with first responders, linemen, and many government workers — put aside their own personal needs to help others. 

I was ready physically for Florence, but I wasn’t prepared mentally for the emotions that accompanied this storm. In my circle, I saw uncertainty, sadness, impatience, frustration, anger, fear, concern, helplessness, and heartbreak. I was also witness to relief, amazement, gratitude, hope, kindness, patience, empathy, and love. 

It will take months, even years, to put things back together from Hurricane Florence. The repercussions will be long-lasting and wide-ranging. As one of the lucky ones, I plan to pay it forward. If you are also among the fortunate, please join me by making a donation or volunteering. Some options you might want to consider include:

This September 16th article in Forbes also provides good information on how you can assist: Helping Out After Hurricane Florence: Where, What & How to Donate.

My heart goes out to all those affected by Hurricane Florence, whether directly or indirectly. Please know that there any many who stand ready to help.

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