I wrote this post about 10 days after Hurricane Florence hit eastern North Carolina. I live on Emerald Isle, which bore the brunt of Florence’s northeast quadrant along with New Bern, as she made landfall over Wilmington, NC. It was the worst storm I’ve seen in my 20 years here, the worst flooding event of 308 years in New Bern, and the worst Hurricane since Hurricane Hazel in 1954. My prayers go out to everyone affected. Our community will continue to work together and dig out from under the devastation and destruction, no matter how long it takes.
DAY ? – Maybe day 10, maybe day 11, I don’t know anymore.
As I read posts from friends who are tired, hungry, homeless, and reaching out to ask for donations to local nonprofits for disaster relief, I am reminded of this moment during the worst of Hurricane Florence (and dang it don’t the worst hurricanes always hit at night?!):
The night of the storm my family and I were sleeping on the first floor of our home – in the safest room possible from a tornado, when I was awakened by a train noise.
It was about 12:30 am (or so), which would turn out to be the last sleep I would get for the night.
I found my phone and turned on its flashlight and felt my way up the stairs. I was afraid to shine the light at the roof, because I could feel the roof being pushed and pulled – sucked in and sucked out – shingles slapping down, shingles being sucked up and torn away – from the third floor of our home (thankfully it stayed on, for the most part!). It was then that I decided now was a good time to start filling those plastic tubs with irreplaceable books and family photos albums – especially if that roaring sound became a tornado (which it did).
At that moment, I felt silly and slightly sick trying to save a few material possessions – kind of like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
And it isn’t just then I’ve felt like that – I’ve felt like that 1000 times probably since then. I’ve felt guilty as we got our power back, as I took a hot shower, as I worked to drag out the 29+ large trees off our property – because others don’t have power, don’t have hot water – and can’t clean their yards or patch their roof during a storm.
We all want to help – as individuals we cannot help everyone – but we can help one person. And that is what matters. Help 1 person at a time. The work you do matters. And while you are at it, remember to put your own oxygen mask on first. Eat, stay hydrated, get a good night’s rest so you can help others. You can’t help anyone if you aren’t care taking yourself.
So I just want anyone who is reading this and feeling tired, worn out, and hopeless after this storm (and there are many of us who are alternating between utter exhaustion and gut-wrenching, anxious faith in humanity), I get it. I get how you feel. I feel that pain, the pain of loss, the pain of overwhelm, the anxiety of the unknown.
And if this is any help at all – I am just like you. Struggling some days, counting my blessing in between the hours, and taking each little glimmer of hope that shines through as a sign that I have the God-given strength to make it to the next task.
You can, we will, get through this – we will make it to the other side, where the smell of stagnant water and mold is gone, our roofs are repairs, our homes are restored, and our children have a place to go to school again. I believe that with all my heart.
Hang in there everybody!
We will get through this together. We *will* rebuild, we will be better than ever, we will do more than survive. We will get to the point where we thrive again.
Please join me for this Hope Meditation, recorded live on Emerald Isle about 2.5 weeks after Hurricane Florence.