I want to start by saying that I hoped you all weathered the storm, or at least as well as you possibly could. Hurricane Florence has been a doozie, and it is starting to feel like the storm hit us weeks ago instead of days. I am tired, as many of you are, and I shouldn't complain about my tiredness as I know that many firefighters, linemen, nurses, doctors, officers, and others have been on the ground 24/7 since three days before Florence hit.
Preparing for what was originally a category four hurricane to make direct landfall on Wilmington was surreal. As Tuesday tuned to Wednesday and Wednesday to Thursday, Wilmington was a ghost town like I have never seen it. We boarded up our home to protect some of the original windows and I did some fine artwork taping the windows shut with blue painters tape.
Finding wood to even board up was a nightmare. It was Tuesday, and I was trying to do the reasonable preparations and therefore I drove to Home Depot. Mistake one. I entered Home Depot in a frenzy, being that it was difficult to even find parking. Then I walked inside. Mistake two. It was chaos. I literally ran to the tape aisle loading my arm with rolls on rolls of this blue painters tape. I think Myth Busters proved it was useless, but what the hell at this point? Then I was ushered to a line of three hundred people where I would wait three hours to finally be given a cart to get wood.
The lady standing in front of me turned around to spark conversation.
"I live in a mobile home. I am beyond anxious. We don't have the means to evacuate and I a pretty sure that we are going to die."
At this point I am sweating and having a monumental nervous breakdown. I run out of the line to pay for the tape. I can not stand here another second with this stranger who is promoting my internal chaos.
I finally find plywood at 84 Lumber, where a kind employee Micheal lends me his personal straps to strap the wood to my beat up 2003 RAV4. I don't know how I made it home with all that plywood on my car, but I know it was Jesus, because I was certain that I was going to launch Ferdinand, (my RAV4), into the air like one of the Wright brother's original planes.
Wednesday was bad. I spent most of Wednesday making the final preparations on my home and then making all the necessary preparations to my work place. I found myself in the grocery store buying cases and cases of water, and literally buying every single bag of cat litter. Sorry to all the cat owning customers of the Harris Teeter in Mayfair. I know I screwed you over that day. We used the cat litter to fill sand bags at the store. Yes, yours truly thought of that one. And praise the Lord! They worked.
Wednesday we evacuated to Leland with our three kitties to stay with my parents who luckily invested in a generator at the last minute, and somehow didn't get robbed. I packed up what I believed to be my most precious belongings: my old journals, a box of all our wedding cards, and photo albums I have made of our vacations.
Thursday was breezy. I starred out the window most of the day.
Friday we were hit. Full force. Power was gone.
Then the floods came. Sunday we woke up to my parents house surrounded by water. If you are aware of the 500 year flood plain, my parents live in it. The waters were deeper than I have ever seen them. I was able to paddle board over my parents four foot fence in the yard down to their neighbor's home that was filled to the second floor with water.
The rivers rose. It was surreal.
The Coast Guard copters hovered over the house, dropping a ladder to send a man down. Do you need to be evacuated? We hesitated, but said no. My parents house did very well. They did not flood.
We were able to get into town to check on our house on Saturday. Our house did very well, all except for our kitchen, which took a branch through the roof, flooding the entire space. Our cabinets are splitting and the ceiling is falling. It is a total mess. But praise the Lord it was only our kitchen. Things can be replaced, people can not. Our yard has been a mess, and with Mitchell working long hours at the hospital it has just been me to work on the house. I was blessed with an extra pair of hands today to help me start clearing the chaos.
Monday I was able to reopen my work and add some normalcy back into my life, but hardly. My mind has been in total chaos. The roads to Wilmington change daily as more and more roads wash out and flood. The grocery stores seem empty, there is still little gas, and everything you do requires extra effort.
But Wilmington is strong, and so are the people in it. I cannot begin to count the number of people who have offered to feed us, to house us, and to offer us a clean shower. It is beautiful. Today I sat with an old lady on the sidewalk at Port City Church and prayed over her as she tried to explain to me the chaos in her neighborhood right now. It brought my anxiety and worry back into check.
Mitchell is the best man in a wedding tomorrow, and due to so many roads being closed, we booked him a flight an hour before hand and I put him on a plane to Raleigh. How weird? We can't even drive to Raleigh. I am praying for some normalcy right now. And I know, normalcy will come with time, but today is day nine since the storm hit, and I am tired. Very blessed, but very tired.
Thank you all for what great support we have received. We will rebuild stronger, and I will design the kitchen I have always dreamed of. Praise the Lord.
I am sure I will write another update soon, but until then know that we are well and the Jesus is very real and very present in Wilmington. Please reach out to me if you are looking for ways help and want to get involved.
Here are my three personal favorite Florence fundraisers so far.
1) Wilmington Postcards- 25 for $10
2) Edge of Urge NFC T-Shirts- $28
3) Operation BBQ Relief- $1+