By Hannah Langley ’21
Natural disasters are a horrible and scary reality that the whole world must face at one time or another.
This past weekend, Tropical Storm Florence hit both North and South Carolina. The result has been catastrophic, as dozens of people have lost their lives and hundreds of people have been left injured or without a home.
Originally a Category 4 hurricane, Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm, making it a tropical storm before it made landfall in North Carolina on Friday.
However, residents of both North and South Carolina were still highly advised to evacuate, as the powerful storm was expected to cause massive flooding and destruction.
The storm moved through both of the Carolinas, causing massive floods with nearly 30 inches or more of rain in certain areas. Rivers, dams, and other waterways began to flood neighborhoods and cities, leaving hundreds of people stranded.
Winds were reported to have been as fast as 35 miles per hour. Fallen trees have caused major damages to properties and have caused the deaths of several people.
Fortunately, many people were evacuated from the areas with the most flooding and damage before the storm began.
However, current reports say that 32 people have died since the end of the storm on Sunday, and as rescue teams continue to move throughout the Carolinas, this number may rise.
One woman reported that her town in North Carolina began to flood around midnight on Sept. 14. She spoke about how her husband, a 6’2 man, went out to try and help people, but the water was already above his chest.
“My husband kept hearing people yelling for help,” said North Carolina resident Annazette Riley-Cromartie.
On Sunday, Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina reported that the storm has “never been more dangerous than it is right now,” and advised residents to evacuate immediately, if they had not done so already.
Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, commented, “We want citizens to follow state and local warnings. There is a tremendous amount of flooding.”
Along with damage, Tropical Storm Florence has caused hundreds of thousands of power outages.
Duke Energy, North Carolina’s energy company, has reported that while the power outages are a concern, their biggest issue at the moment is a coal ash spill caused by the rain. The spill displaced 2,000 cubic yards of waste, resulting in contaminated drinking water.
Some of the worst damage has occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina, where roads have been completely flooded and access to the town has been completely cut-off.
This means basic necessities, such as clean drinking water, have been cut-off as well.
“If we do not get the needed fuel within the next 48 hours, we will not be able to continue water service for public health and safety,” stated the public water utility department.
Only time will tell if Wilmington will have access to clean drinking water and other resources in the coming days.
Volunteers from the National Guard and aircraft carriers have tried their best to begin rescue missions throughout the Carolinas.
They have also attempted to begin recovery efforts, but it will take much time and energy before these southern towns will be restored to normal.
Florence continues to make her way up the coast, now as a tropical depression.
The storm moved toward Virginia on Monday, and will continue North.
Donations are currently being accepted by various relief organizations to help the Carolinas rebuild and restore their towns.