Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Here We Go Again...Hurricane Dorian

"Here we go again..." That song has been on my mind the last few days as I've stalked multiple weather apps, watched the news, and stared in sheer sadness at social media over the devastation that Hurricane Dorian has unleashed in the Bahamas. You see, it wasn't that long ago that I was doing the same thing for Florence. "Oh, another hurricane," I thought last year when I first heard it announced. Only in the two days leading up did I really understand what we were facing and even then, I couldn't fathom the devastation we would end up seeing from the storm.

Weather has never really scared me, but all of that changed during Florence. I prepped for a storm like I normally would, but on the day before the storm's effects made their way onto the North Carolina coast, I was filled with a kind of anxiety I had never faced before. That anxiety took a strong grip and didn't leave until the storm had passed and I had returned home. We were some of the lucky ones... trees down, a huge mess to clean up. A few cosmetic damages. But we had a home to return to, and for many, the same could not be said. 

Just a few days shy of Florence's anniversary, here we are again. Boats are on trailers but not headed out to enjoy one of the last weekends of summer but instead are heading to a safe haven. The streets were bustling and the grocery store full, but each person seemed to have a mission in mind. Every so often, a stranger will ask, "Are you prepared for the storm?" and you'll shrug in response, saying, "I'm ready as I'm going to be," hoping that your words are true.

The wounds are still fresh from Florence and it shows. There are countless people who haven't moved back home from the last big storm and here we are faced with another. We've watched Dorian go from a tropical storm to a Category 5 that left the northern Bahamas looking unrecognizable. We've watched the track go from a beeline into Florida to a long, slow trek up the eastern seaboard. My heart hurts for the Bahamas because lives have been lost and lives have been forever changed. My heart hurts for anyone in this devastating storm's path. And my heart hurts for North Carolina, because we've been through enough.

We've known the hurricane warning was coming. The waiting game has been agonizing, wondering when the storm moving 1 mile per hour would slowly make its trek up the coast. And yet when my phone gave the Emergency Alert sound signaling an official hurricane warning, it gave me chills. It took me back to a year ago.

A year ago, we felt 4 - 5 days of wind and rain that led to devastating flooding in areas that had never seen that much water. I watched Interstate 40 turn from a road to a river in front of my very eyes. I watched friends and family evacuate from flooding homes.

Tonight, I've watched the Weather Channel until I could watch it no more. I've watched the category decrease only to pick back up to a now Category 3. The opinions of our community are polar opposites: "It'll be nothing like Florence, it's not that big of deal," one person might say while the next person comments, "We haven't had a Category 3 hurricane since Fran..." One thing that I've learned growing up through hurricane seasons is that no one storm will be like the next and the non-predictability of it all is part of the agony of the season. No one truly knows what this storm will bring so we can only prepare for the worst, pray for the best, and keep panic at bay in the meantime.

One thing that Florence taught me is this: our community is a strong one. People bonded together, strangers helped one another, and we slowly but surely recovered. Dorian is showing that same thing - Americans are joining hands with Bahamians to put together supplies for a community that has gone through a historical, life-changing event. We can't change what happened. We can't rewind the damage. But we can love our neighbors and provide a glimmer of hope in the darkness of heartbreak.

It will never be lost on me that we live in an incredible place. I always try to remind myself as I walk the loop at Wrightsville, or dine at a waterfront restaurant, or look for shells at Mason's Inlet, or shop in one of our many small businesses that we are so incredibly lucky to call Wilmington home. And that's what makes these storms even harder...

As we hunker down to ride out the storm, I pray for the people of the Bahamas. I pray for North Carolina. For the farmers, the first responders, the mission teams. I pray for anyone and everyone in this storm's wake. I pray for the families of those lost and for those who feel as though all hope is lost. I pray for the power crews already gathered to help those in need. And as I said last year, I pray that we find comfort in the days to come. God bless our beautiful city, our beautiful state, and its beautiful people. 

To aid the relief efforts for the Bahamas, consider donating here
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