- High winds caused damages to trees, structures, and powerlines
- Flooding reported throughout the Carolinas
- Hundreds of thousands do not have power
- Death toll currently at 32
- Please donate to help those affected by Hurricane Florence
The Carolinas endured days of havoc from high winds and heavy rain caused by Hurricane Florence. The deadly storm took 32 lives, including a mother and child. Many are left in the dark without power or stranded in flood waters. Some people who evacuated the coastline came home to find their house severely damaged. Being born and raised in the Carolinas, this catastrophic event hit close to home. While the damage in Charlotte was minor compared to our neighbors, living here provided a perspective of the storm.
Wednesday Sept. 12
Hurricane Florence was set to be the storm of a lifetime as a Category 4. Many were expecting the storm to strengthen to a Category 5 before it reached land. The coast already evacuated, and many fled to places inland including to Charlotte. Recalling the effects of Hugo, people of Charlotte were worried as the projected path of Florence was heading straight for us.
I was working at the art museum* and they were expecting the worst. They began to wrap sculptures on the terrace to protect them from debris. There were already talks about closing the museum in preparation for the hurricane. Some of our guests were evacuees looking for things to do in town, but did they escape the storm like they thought?
By the end of the day, there was a slight sign of relief as the wind speed of Florence decreased, and the storm became a Category 2.
Still worried, I did not want to stay in a trailer for fears of high winds. I grabbed my belongings and found refuge at my fiancé’s house.
Thursday Sept. 13
Hurricane Florence’s feeder bands were hitting the Carolina coast line. The winds began to pick up in Charlotte even though the storm was miles away. The museum made a final decision to close for the weekend. Expecting the worst, they removed or covered pieces on the fourth floor. The museum also made an executive decision to cover the mirrored statue outside.
Throughout the day, I kept reading and watching updates on my phone. Frying Pan Tower, a former lighthouse that is now a unique Bed and Breakfast off of the Cape Fear, N.C coast, provided webcam footage of the storm’s strength. The cam focused on an American flag that began to be ripped apart by powerful winds. In the background, the storm lashed the tower with high waves. By the end of the night, the footage faded to black as the storm attacked the North Carolina coastline.
Friday Sept. 14
The hurricane’s eye made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, N.C as a Category 1. Homes and businesses on the beach became consumed by the ocean as storm surges hit the coast. The storm took its first lives, a mother and child who were killed when a tree fell onto their home in Wilmington, N.C.
News reports started to spread about New Bern, N.C, a town that was experiencing severe flooding. 200 people were trapped in their homes as water levels elevated from a 10 ft storm surge. Video footage showed people and pets being rescued from their homes.
Many schools and business were closed around the Metrolina area in preparation for Hurricane Florence. Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools became shelters for evacuees who fled the coast. As wind gusts increased, the feeder bands were making their way towards us.
By the end of the night, the storm downgraded to a tropical storm. While it was a sign of relief that this would not be another Hugo, it still was a deadly and damaging storm.
Saturday Sept. 15
The tropical storm began impacting the Charlotte region. 40 mph wind gusts knocked the canopy off the Gulf station in Fort Mill. Homes were damaged due to trees that crashed through their roofs. In Myers Park, a baby was sleeping as a tree fell onto a family’s home. Luckily, no one was hurt. Many lost power throughout the region.
At the home I was staying in, lights flickered throughout the day. Internet and cable connections periodically weakened or went out. The storm had arrived in the Queen City.
Sunday Sept. 16
I woke up several times throughout the night. The first time, the power went out for an hour. My fiancé’s family first thought the power would be out for the remainder of the storm and began using battery-powered candles to light the home and started filling the refrigerator with ice. We were relived when the power came back on. We later learned that a tree fell on a business and several power lines not too far away from the home. The second time I woke up to a siren on my phone from meteorologists releasing a flash flood watch, and later a warning, for my area.
Curious, we took a ride around town to view the damage caused by the storm. We saw both the fallen tree near Springs Street and the Gulf Gas Station’s damaged canopy. From the bridge on highway 21, we watched as the Catawba River slowly rose. Luckily, it was not enough to cause any damage in Rock Hill and Fort Mill.
My fiancé’s sister showed us a video of her friend’s house where water was creeping in. Her friend attempted to clear the water out by pushing it toward the door, but as it continued to rain, his labor was useless.
When we got back home, our attention was focused on local news. Charlotte was experiencing local areas of flooding. This included Elizabeth Park on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway where some paths were underwater. An area known for its peaceful surroundings while experiencing the views of Uptown became a raging river.
Videos poured in from other cities with major flooding. In Leland, N.C, six abandoned dogs were rescued from a locked, flooded cage. This serves as a reminder that if you need to evacuate due to a hurricane, please bring your pets with you.
Monday Sept. 17
The storm is gone, and the sun is out. While I am lucky enough to spend my day writing this post, many are forced to clean up damage from the storm. If you can, please help those who were affected by Hurricane Florence. If you bought water in preparation of the storm but did not need it due to the lack of severity in your area, then donate the water to your local food bank. Do not return unused bottles of water to the grocery store, as many are regulated to throw them out. You can also donate money to the American Red Cross. Every bit counts when it comes to recovery efforts.
*I am keeping the location of where I work anonymous for privacy concerns.