As Hurricane Florence hurtles toward the East Coast, more than a million coastal residents are under mandatory evacuation orders ahead of what could be a historic, devastatingly powerful storm.
Currently Category 4 and still gaining strength, Florence is expected to make landfall sometime late Thursday or early Friday, bringing with it sustained winds well over 100mph, storm surges, heavy rainfall, and the potential for dangerous flooding across parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
In a news conference on Tuesday, North Carolina Governor Ray Cooper warned residents in the path of Florence to heed the stern evacuation warnings. “The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different,” he said.
A Hurricane Warning is now in effect for #Florence from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. https://t.co/e8lmANKxBz pic.twitter.com/H8Ci0vlWG2
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 11, 2018
As residents in those areas flee inland, gather supplies, and try to find order in the chaos, the rest of the country joins in watching and waiting for the storm to make its impact.
That anticipation—the feeling of impending disaster—is something I remember all too well.
In June 2011, my family joined 12,000 other Minot, ND residents in a mandatory evacuation ahead of a catastrophic flood along the river flowing through our city, one that ultimately destroyed 4,000+ homes, including my own. I’ll never forget the eerily calm chaos the afternoon we were ordered to evacuate, as we scurried to pack whatever possessions we didn’t want destroyed by Mother Nature.
Knowing the sacred ground you stood on—home—would be unrecognizably changed when you eventually were allowed to return (whenever that was to be) is a bizarre sensation of dread, resignation, and unbridled fury.
It’s why I have such a visceral ache in my heart tonight for the men, women, and children living the same slow-motion nightmare, thousands of miles from where I sit waiting and praying for their safety.
As the storm nears and the reality of devastation to come looms, that safety is, as it should be, the primary concern for the countess lives that stand to be impacted by the wrath of Florence.
“I have an urgent message for everyone in North Carolina: Hurricane Florence will affect each and every one of you,” Gov. Cooper said in Tuesday’s press conference. “This storm is a monster. It’s big and it’s vicious. It is an extremely dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane.
“Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster.”
Our prayers are with all those in the path of Hurricane Florence tonight—Godspeed.