This past week has been all about Florence. School cancelled as of Monday night for the rest of the week, friends evacuating, finding a place to go when we need one (thanks, Bob), and stocking up on essentials should we lose power (water, wine, and non-perishable snacks). At the time our friends were evacuating and the area was closing down, Florence was a Category Four storm and heading for us. By the time she arrived, she was a Category One and came ashore a full state south of us. Did we over-react? I don’t think so. Like the forecasters, we did the best we could with the most current available information. I am, however, glad that our property is in a zone B so evacuation was not mandatory. We planned to leave early Thursday morning if the storm was still tracking our way but we woke that morning to the news that she was starting to move south. Good news for us, not good for the Carolinas, most of which had felt relatively safe until now. More on that later.
Florence continues to trouble North Carolina and its impact will be felt far and wide. There were some lessons from this storm that will stay with me and my family for a long time. First, the four of us living in our home made the decision to remain together whether we stay or leave. That may sound like a given, but my husband travels for work often (and was gone for two of the “closed” days) and my son and his girlfriend are in their twenties and both have other places they could have gone. This was a big deal to me. Also, I was humbled and touched by how many of our friends offered their homes to us and our pets as a refuge. These weren’t blanket social media “come on up, we have room” posts, although I have no doubt that those were sincere and we appreciated it. These were people who reached out personally to let us know that they are concerned about our safety and wanted to help.
The prospect of danger also brought our out of town family members closer together. I spoke with my mom several times per day via phone or text. When Florence turned, it turned towards her and my brother’s family so then we worried together about what they might do (she stayed, and she’s fine…my brother and his grown children evacuated, and they are fine). My older son and his family checked in on us daily to see what we were thinking with each new weather report. I also had frequent contact with my daughter in Washington, although that is a daily blessing with or without Flo. My dad texted to find out what our plan was. My sister checked in frequently. In our lives, where we don’t live in the same towns or even in the same state in most cases, this was almost like getting the whole family together.
Another lasting impression from Florence was how many social media friends sent us good wishes and prayers. I wasn’t aware that most of them know where we live. People all over the world were watching the storm coverage and keeping those in its path in prayer. That is a powerful village. As divided as we all are geographically, politically, and economically, everyone wished for the best for those who had to watch Flo. Everyone mourns and prays for the families of the five people who have been confirmed fatalities of the storm. It is my fervent hope that we will keep this good will through the aftermath of the storm and beyond. There will be people needing help. Let’s help. There will be those needing encouragement. Let’s encourage everyone. And for any who fear they have lost everything, let’s show them they haven’t. Every day.