Wednesday, September 12, 2018

On the Eve of Hurricane Florence...

As I ventured out this morning, nothing seemed all that different. The sun was shining, few clouds in the sky. A perfect September day, some would say. Boats were being pulled down our city's streets and there was a line of traffic waiting to cross the bridge onto Wrightsville. A fairly normal Wednesday in the port city, where summers seem to last forever.

But you see, today was very different. Despite sunny skies, there was an ominous buzz that seemed to fill the air. Boats were being trailored out of our town in hopes to find a safe haven and the line onto our beautiful beach was a checkpoint for residents only - those still around and trying to finish that last minute storm prep. The offices, stores, and businesses that normally have filled parking lots sat empty, aside from the grocery stores, gas stations, and a few lone restaurants. And that same strand of sand that would normally be scattered with beach goers on a beautiful day was virtually bare, aside from a few news crews. 

When people ask me where I'm from, I'm always proud to say the word Wilmington. For me, it's where I grew up, where I graduated from high school, where I engrossed myself in its rich traditions, where I chose to open my first business. I don't take living here for granted. I can't count the times I've looked at my husband as we're driving over the Wrightsville Beach bridge, or walking the streets of downtown, or spending the day on the boat with my parents and said, "How lucky are we to live here?" And I mean it every single time.

Those who have grown up on the coast are no stranger to hurricanes. I'm sure many, like me, didn't bat an eye when they first heard the name Florence. And yet, as the storm quickened and strengthened and continued its churn toward the North Carolina coast, it's now the one thing on everyone's mind. We've all seen this kind of storm on the news. We've prayed for those affected. We've counted our blessings that it wasn't happening to us. But now it is. 

On the eve of Hurricane Florence's approach to our beautiful town, I am devastated. And I think our entire city feels the exact same way. I've done a lot of reflecting these last couple of days. This city - it's not just things. It's a place filled with memories and moments and life events. It's the dock where I got engaged to my husband, it's the house where I spent treasured time with my grandmother, it's the store that I've filled with blood sweat and tears, it’s the walls of my parents’ house where I grew up. As I watched the sunset from the dock where I've spent so many hours of my life, I hoped that when I return it will be the same. Yet I also came to the understanding that things could be devastatingly different. 

But one thing is for certain. We are a strong city. A city filled with doers, with entrepreneurs, with young people anxious to dig their heels into our beautiful sand and spring into action when the time is safe. It's filled with first responders and doctors and nurses and kind people who have left their families in an effort to protect others. I believe in Wilmington, in our people, and that we can face the days to come. 

Someone once said to me, "There's something about you Wilmington people. You all think it's the best place in the entire world." I took it as a compliment - I do think it's the best place on earth. It's our little slice of paradise. I pray to God that our paradise will be spared. But most of all, I pray for all the people in this storm's wake. For the people of Shallotte, and Ocean Isle, and Wallace and Myrtle Beach and everywhere in between. I pray for the business owners that left their livelihoods behind. For the farmers that have spent more hours than usual trying to save their crop and for those worried about the livestock that will no doubt be affected by this storm. I pray for the first responders, the power crews, those who have traveled far to assist us after this storm passes. I pray that we find comfort in the days to come. God bless our beautiful city, our beautiful state, and its beautiful people. 
Blogger Template Created by pipdig