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Hurricane Florence …Let Disaster Show Your Kind Side

Here in the Carolinas we are prepping for Hurricane Florence, just recently upgraded to a Category 4 storm. I remember when Hurricane Fran hit in 1996. No one had any idea a hurricane could come that far inland and do that much damage. Our home at the time lost 12 large trees, we had no power for 10 days and we lost the contents of a large freezer. The National Guard took over the local high school and that is where we went to shower. No electricity means no well water for a lot of people.

During Fran, tornadoes were spun off and one twisted the tops off of all the tall pines in my neighbor’s back yard, the tornado then jumped the road and took out the trees in our back yard and then jumped again to a street behind us and took out those trees. Roads were blocked for days due to downed power lines and trees lying in the road.

Some of neighbors in the subdivision got their power before us and I gave them two large frozen turkeys from the freezer before they defrosted. Cul-de-sacs became areas of neighbor potlucks with people combining food from freezers and using grills to cook. Neighbors helped each other with chainsawing and burning of debris….

Hurricane Fran was a Category 3 storm, Florence is the largest hurricane to ever hit the Carolina coast north of Charleston. So, everyone is prepping for disaster. The Husband traipsed off to find gas and propane, I filled the vehicle gas tanks and grocery shopped. Stocking water in every conceivable container we have. I’m glad I had hurricane straps attached to the barn roof so we’ll see how that holds up. The grocery store was busy but the atmosphere was one of kindness and civility. Men asking if I needed help reaching top shelf items, pleasant chatter with people in line.

Impending disaster does not have to devolve into chaos, selfishness and rudeness. Be kind to retail employees as they stock shelves as fast as they can or who are unable to make bread and bottled water appear when none exists. It’s a great time to reach out to neighbors BEFORE it gets bad and plan to share resources.

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  • JD September 10, 2018, 2:07 pm

    I live in Florida, so hurricanes are unhappily familiar. I agree that people can be extraordinarily kind and usually are in these times, but you sometimes find people aren’t so kind, especially after several days of no power. The year we had four hurricanes in six weeks that criss-crossed the state, so that everyone got at least some of the hurricanes and many got it each time, were very trying.
    Remember, please, that those employees stocking shelves also have homes and families to prepare and worry about, but they need to work so you’ll be supplied. If the power goes out and you have water, and you know friends on wells, offer them a shower at your house — a cold shower beats no shower — and a chance to fill containers of water to take home. Check on your neighbors. Be kind to the work crews — many of them really need to be home taking care of their own property and family, but they are out working instead.
    I always hope that the storms will turn back out to sea or fizzle quickly, wherever they are headed. Hurricanes and tornadoes are horrible, but they can, as noted, make neighbors out of strangers as well.

  • Melissa September 10, 2018, 3:01 pm

    Another Floridian here! What got me last year, after Irma, was the people complaining about their power, and even cable/internet being out. Linemen were working around the clock, away from their families, to get power back on. And really, we can all live without the internet and cable for a few days. People lost their lives and homes, and it made me so angry to see people on social media complaining about minor inconveniences (I agree that electricity is a little more than minor, but compared to losing your home or worse, it’s not that bad, especially when we’re talking about a few days, not weeks or months!). I may have been especially sensitive after Irma because I know several people who had significant damage to their homes or businesses, (including my mom, who was displaced for several months) so I had zero patience for any complaints, especially over cable tv or internet.

    On the flip side, after a disaster such as a hurricane, it is nice to see the community coming together. I can’t tell you how many people I saw on social media offering their help to anyone who needed it. My church had people immediately out helping, and we weren’t the only ones – my mom’s neighborhood flooded, and she had 3 church crews visit, asking if she needed help, but her own church had already been there to help out. Without their help, we would have spent days moving things into storage ourselves.

    Sending prayers for safety to you and the rest of the Carolinas, Admin!

  • Linda September 10, 2018, 5:16 pm

    Good luck and stay safe!

  • Linda September 10, 2018, 5:17 pm

    Good luck and I hope you’re able to stay safe.

  • Kat September 10, 2018, 7:30 pm

    When I was little, I remember my mom picked me up from daycare (or maybe kindergarten) one day and we came home to find our road blocked off because our neighbors’ house had burned down. They determined we were safe and let us in eventually, and the firefighters worked pretty late into the evening. I think it was fall or winter, and I remember my mom getting out her biggest pitcher and making coffee, and taking it and a stack of paper cups to the firefighters next door. (She made me stay in the house but I watched from the doorway.) I wonder if this is still a thing that can be or is done.

    • Jenn50 September 11, 2018, 1:34 pm

      The firefighters from my department are always extremely grateful for gestures of appreciation and comfort. While our community was flooding, so many people dropped off meals, snacks, coffee and bottled water to us. It served the practical need, and let us know that we were valued. (And took the sting out of the odd person who felt the need to scream at us for closing a road or not being able to save their home. One time, I’d been directing traffic out of an evacuation zone in the hammering rain for 8 hours straight and a lady drove by and handed me a hot cup of Tim Horton’s coffee and a homemade Rice Krispie square through her car window. I was so grateful that I’m sure teared up.

      • Kat September 12, 2018, 5:22 pm

        Aww! Thanks for replying. 🙂

  • Kimberly September 10, 2018, 8:30 pm

    The Cajun Navy has already started packing up their boats and they are heading to help you all. The death toll in Harvey would have been much higher if it wasn’t for these civilian heroes. Look them up on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GoCajunNavy/ and spread the word. I was dry during Harvey but I helped by finding people sending SOS on Facebook and Twitter including in the comment section of news broadcasts* and getting them information about Cajun Navy or sending their locations to the dispatchers of the boats. Also stay out of cars – almost all our deaths were people trying to drive out of high water. If you can’t see the curb – the water is too high.

    *Stations went off the air because they were flooded. So the reports used FB Live to get information out.

  • AJ September 11, 2018, 2:54 am

    Here in Hong Kong, we have a tropical depression passing by the city on Wednesday/Thursday, and a Super Typhoon due to make an almost-direct hit on Sunday/Monday. But we are fortunate. Robust measurements were put in place over the past century and a half, which means we don’t lose power and debris/trees/etc. are cleared pretty quickly. People will dash to the shops to buy food for a few extra days, just because it can take a couple of days for the supplies of fresh food to pick up again. Favourite haunts for when the city is in shutdown for a typhoon are restaurants and cinemas.

    There is flooding of course, and while people like to blame the government, it is often their own fault, especially when it’s on their own land! (Handy hint: Don’t stack shipping containers where water needs to drain from!)

    It’s the surrounding areas of Southern Mainland China that always get hit so badly… and lot of that is due to a lack of preparedness, even though these days people are aware several days in advance.

    It’s quite horrifying to see what happens in the US when a hurricane hits. Just as it was when Typhoon Jebi hit Japan last week, which when had an earthquake!

    So when we in Hong Kong are sitting snugly listening to a typhoon batter the city at the weekend, we should remember that we are the fortunate ones as there are others in the world for whom a powerful storm means no food, no water, no electricity… for days. And because we are all neighbours.

  • Lauren September 11, 2018, 7:44 am

    What a nice story! I hope you all stay safe.

  • Livvy17 September 11, 2018, 7:44 am

    Lovely post, great reminder in all times.

  • Liz September 11, 2018, 8:48 am

    What irritates me, and I’ve seen it several times, both with the power companies in VA where my mom lived during Irene, and where I am, that got whalloped by Sandy, is how many people whine and complain about how the lineman etc are “standing around doing nothing” “or sitting in a restaurant when they should be out working” and so on. Um really? They are people too, many who are out and NOT home for days on end. They also need to sleep and eat, and the “standing around” sometimes is just planning what to do, and where to go, etc.

    And then there was the endless whining, and moaning about how they’d been without power for x days, which I get is challenging, esp. when it goes on for a week or two. BUT there’s a process, and a sequence. I am lucky in that my power lines are underground, so once the substation was restored, power was back. I didn’t have to wait for new poles and lines like many.

    But on the upside, we had many many power companies from around the US come in to help restore power and i saw many being cheered, and last year, in my town, after several late blizzards knocked out much of the power in my town, and guys/gals from other states coming in to help restore, many in my town went out, got coffee, donuts, snacks etc. and took them out and around to those who were working to get power back.

    • Lerah99 September 11, 2018, 1:17 pm

      People never change.
      There will always be some self righteous people looking to make themselves feel better by criticizing others.

      Those people are the same ones who used to call the WPA workers “Shovel Leaners”.
      As if the men living in those barracks and doing back-breaking work like grading roads, building shelters, building offices, cutting trails, etc… so they had something to eat and could provide for their families in the aftermath of the Great Depression were just a bunch of lay-abouts looking for a free ride.

      It is awful the way that some people, who have never done any manual labor in their entire lives, feel entitled to insist that if someone stops to get a drink of water or catch their breath then they are being lazy.

  • Heather September 11, 2018, 10:36 am

    I am very fortunate. Where I live we don’t see hurricanes and the like. But I remember very well a bad ice storm Montréal had 20 years ago. The city and the suburbs were frozen in ice for something like 10 days if I remember correctly. My home didn’t have power but my parents’ did. So, my husband and I left our water running slightly (so as not to freeze the pipes) and bunked at my parents’ just a few blocks away. We kept some friends’ animals because where our friends lived, there was no power for miles and miles (it was a really hard hit area). I remember that radio gained a real resurgence at the time, because it was one of the only ways for people to communicate with the community at large (no internet, no TV). Many stubborn people died, but the community really came together.
    I hope that Florence relents and doesn’t hit that hard. Please, everyone, help out and stay safe!

  • Elinor September 11, 2018, 11:40 am

    Disasters bring out the best and worst in people. Funny that this was posted today on 9/11. It brings to mind what happened back on the day…I work in a professional field. The city was on near lock down for several days, lower Manhattan was inaccessible, transportation was iffy, cell phone towers were down, and this was back before working remotely was really a thing. We were reeling from the events- all of us knew someone who was lost, I had burnt papers from the WTC tumbling down my block and dust from the fallen towers covering my car and the surfaces in my house. I remember my hair and clothes smelled like smoke and I just couldn’t get it out. We had one client (from another part of the state) who was furious that we didn’t respond to a request immedietly. He screamed and yelled and said if we couldn’t do it he would find another agency who could even though we had serviced him well for many years. Never asked how we were or offered his sympathies. The kicker was that the request he was making was completely unnecessary and impossible (out of our hands) given the situation.

  • Dawn Stafford September 12, 2018, 7:56 am

    Houston, here! During Rita we lost power. My husband was walking around the neighborhood to assess the damage and brought back some folks wandering around looking for coffee. They’d come up to stay “safe” with friends and landed in the thick of it! We had a gas stove so I heated up water and poured it through the coffee maker. We made French toast and had a great breakfast. The wanderers went on to Vermont later and sent us a jar of maple syrup for the next hurricane!

    We made it through Harvey with no loss except cable. People in the back of our neighborhood were being airboated out. We were trapped due to high water, but all you heard about was how everyone was looking for ways to help others. It was very moving.

  • Nialla September 12, 2018, 8:20 pm

    I live in one of the dullest places on earth, weather wise. It’s hotter than hell itself in the summer, but no tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards or ice storms. Even the occasional flash flood is highly localized.

    My heart goes out to all who will be suffering because of this storm. I hope people listen to the warnings to evacuate, and help is readily available for all who need it. Stay safe, and look out for each other.

  • Ginger G September 13, 2018, 10:03 am

    I’m in SC, and we are all on pins and needles right now, but I’ve noticed how extra nice people are being to each other in general the last couple of days. I’m tall and I noticed a shorter lady at the store yesterday struggling to reach an item of the top shelf at the store so I reached up and got if for her (after asking if she would like my assistance) and she hugged me and told me to stay safe and take care. Everyone is saying that to each other right now. I wish it didn’t take an impending disaster to bring this out in people.

  • Catherine St. Clair September 13, 2018, 8:31 pm

    I lived in Miami, Florida, when Hurricane Andrew hit. My neighbors and I got through it together. I am a white Southerner. My neighbors on one side were from South America and my neighbors on the other side were African-Americans from the inner city. We were without power for two weeks. The linemen who came to get us back up and running were from South Carolina. We shall always remember them for bringing us back to civilization.

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