Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
I spent the better part of the past week at work and at home getting ready for the possible impact of Hurricane Florence. I had two of my personnel and their families who lived in mandatory evacuation zones and did evacuate. Until late Wednesday when Florence took her turn to the southwest we had made reservations in a local hotel since our neighborhood typically floods. The last storm that we had, Hurricane Matthew dropped 15 inches of rain on us in a period of about 10 hours, barely a week and a half after another system had dropped 16 inches of rain on us in a three day period. During those events I fought to keep water out of our home and we lost one of our cars to flood damage and the other had a couple thousand dollars of damage. We could not leave our neighborhood for almost three days because of the depth of the water on the streets in our subdivision.
This time we got lucky. Florence, after making a jog to the northwest turned back west and then southwest. For us she was pretty much a nothing-burger, but we live in a place that is incredibly vulnerable should a major storm hit. A category three of four storm would devastate the area. Hampton Roads is in an area of Virginia known as the Tidewater and Tidewater is a polite word for swamp. In fact that applies to most of the East Coast from us down to Florida.
But, since Hampton Roads one of the nation’s major seaports and transportation hubs, as well as the home of the largest naval base in the world the effects would be more than local. Though since I am local it would really suck. So the fact that Florence missed us was not a bad thing for us, but it was a really bad thing for millions of people in the Carolinas, including many of our friends. I know a number of former shipmates who will quite probably lose their homes. Likewise There are others who have evacuated and don’t know what they will return to when the go back.
I saw pictures and videos from places near Camp LeJeune where I once lived and realize that the destruction, especially where the the storm surge was massive. I saw an estimate that 750,000 homes could be impacted by the storm surge alone, this doesn’t could the added damage from the flooding rains and the runoff from streams and rivers that empty out into the wetlands and coastal areas that have already be inundated. Likewise the region will be polluted by runoff from hog farms and coal ash.
I have been through hurricanes down there and Florence looks worse than any that I went through, although Floyd in 1999 create massive flooding that isolated many towns in Eastern North Carolina. I do hope that my friends and all others impacted by her are safe and have not incurred too much damage.
After Florence passes we will see the extent of the damage and begin to count the cost in lives lost and disrupted. There will be chances for those of us who are not impacted to try to do something to help. Thoughts and prayers are fine but practical acts of assistance and mercy are much better at times like this.
2 responses to “We Dodged Florence, but Millions of Others Didn’t: Thoughts and Prayers are Nice, but More is Required”
Steve, very glad the storm wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I notice however that two very important words are missing from your article: “climate change.” These storms are becoming more frequent and more deadly because of climate-changed conditions, which unfortunately means your community (and many others) are at greater risk than they ever have been. So while politicians send their “thoughts and prayers,” they’re falling short by not taking more direct action, but they’re also compounding the wider problem by not taking climate change and its effects seriously. Our entire approach to storms like Florence needs to change.
Sean, This was more of a personal reflection last night and I was tired. I thought about adding a section on climate change and seas rise but was too tired to do so because I would have kept going. There are things that the Navy is recommending for the area that are being resisted by the administration to prepare the region, not just the bases for their effects. I need to write a separate article about this.