Wilmington - After The Storm
The National Weather Service has referred to Florence as the “storm of a lifetime” for the region. Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday, Sept. 14, packing sustained 90 mph winds and heavy rain. The storm crawled through the Carolinas dumping record-breaking rainfall and causing severe flooding.
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As hurricane Florence approached our area it was forecast to be a category 4 or 5 hurricane which is as bad as any we've ever had in recorded history. Many life and long-time residence, who had never evacuated, took this warning seriously and left town, fleeing far West into neighboring states. Over the decades hurricanes have repeatedly caused much damage in areas as far West as Raleigh, Charlotte and even the NC mountains. The Southeastern NC coastal areas are as prepared and hurricane weathered as any area in the country and most were taking this storm seriously.
As the storm approached it was downgraded to a category 1 / 2 hurricane from a wind factor, BUT - as the storm began to rapidly expand it's size and slow down it then became a tremendous rain / water event as well as spawning numerous tornados across the areas. At times the rain in some areas was falling at a rate of three inches PER HOUR for numerous hours at the time. Combine the historical rain fall with a storm that nearly stopped over the area for days at the time and it made for a near Biblical storm event as the inland and mountain rivers combined to drain into the low-lying interior portions of our area and the water had no place to go so the water spread into areas that have never flooded before. WATCH THIS VIDEO
Wilmington proper sustained quite a lot of wind, tree and roof damage, along with some areas of flooding. Unfortunately, some of the more rural areas miles inland from the coast took much of the brunt of this storm system. Numerous families in these areas were flooded in measurements of double-digit feet which led to a sea of rooftops and hundreds of swift-water and air-lift rescues. Keep in mind that many of these home-owners built in areas that were NOT in areas that required flood insurance so they have no insurance to replace their homes in the event of "rising water". With this thought in mind it's a good idea to ALWAYS purchase flood insurance no matter where you live as neighborhood storm water systems, drives etc could back up in any storm and the result of no insurance could be the same. If you do not live in an area that requires flood insurance it can be purchased for as little as $300-500 per YEAR. You should contact your insurance company for more information on this. Again, ALWAYS CARRY FLOOD INSURANCE - No matter what is "required" or not.
Aftermath & lack of Homes to buy or rent
Now the storm has passed many rivers are cresting and water levels are subsiding. Unfortunately, this is of little comfort to the many families who's homes were flooded out. Today, I worked with Samaritans Purse, a Faith-based voluntary relief organization, in an area a few miles inland and it is horrific what these families are going through. Not only are they dealing with complete losses in many cases but they are having difficulty finding places to relocate to.
What Happens with Housing Now?
IN MY OPINION, the Coastal NC areas are in high-demand and while we have seen a boom of new single-family and multi-family housing starts over the last two years, the supply was already stretched thin as compared to the huge demand for our areas. Now, in many price ranges and areas there will be an even smaller pool of properties for anyone to buy or rent which may lead to a significant increase in the cost of housing. And keep in mind that in many popular areas, such as New Hanover County, there is little to no land to build on, so homes in New Hanover (Wilmington, Castle Hayne, Carolina & Kure Beach), Northern Brunswick (Leland) and Southern Pender (Hampstead) counties will likely become very hard to come by for the foreseeable future.
we are not alone
Fortunately, many areas along coastal North Carolina have been blessed with the availability of our active military. Coast Guard and FEMA - along with other local, state and federal agencies. One of the most incredible thing that has come about is the private organizations that were here the moment the storm passed, and in some cases even before or during the storm. In my scope of knowledge and observations, some of the organizations that come top of mind to me that I had not heard of before the storm are: Convoy of Hope and Samaritans Purse. These two organizations rolled into town with dozens and dozens of tractor trailers, trucks and heavy equipment. They partnered with area Churches and deployed a small army of out of area volunteers along with local volunteers. They brought massive amounts of supplies, food, equipment and training so everyone could be leveraged to help others. There were also tens of thousands of utility line-workers from all over the country that were deployed before the storm even made landfall. But above all for me was the neighbors helping neighbors, communities helping communities, private and public sectors working together and people of different backgrounds putting their own personal ideologies aside for the better of the whole. In addition to this area Churches, companies, neighbors, hospitals, school teachers, news broadcasters and even social media groups have provided tremendous information, time and resources to help each other -- It's a beautiful reminder of what a beautiful area and country we still have.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Now that many news broadcasters and weather channels have left we are left to pick up the physical and emotional pieces. It will take months and years for many areas to put the infrastructure back to together. Some families have tragically already lost loved ones and when things are said and done there will be an untold amount of families that lose their homes, income and other worldly possessions. First and foremost, anyone can PRAY for those who are and will be battling deep loss. PRAY for our leaders to lead with love and wisdom. PRAY for neighbors to keep the helping spirit alive. PRAY for the thousands of volunteers and workers to get back to their families and as they move to other damaged areas of the world.
Here are a few links to just some of the until recently unknown (to me) organizations that are providing help to those in needs. You are welcome to donate or participate - it's your choice.
- Convoy of Hope
- Samaritan's Purse
- Operation BBQ Relief
- The Harrelson Center
- Scotts Hill Baptist Church
- The Cajun Navy Relief & Rescue
I'm certain there are many many more organizations that have and continue to help. Please feel free to comment below with those you have found super helpful.
I acknowledge I've only seen or heard about a portion of the lives and property effected. By no means is this article intended to leave anyone out -- this is just my personal experiences and knowledge and you can certainly find more in-depth and professional writings online or in professional publications.
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAS AND CONTINUES TO HELP