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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Washed Away

Washed Away
Dan Dodge

Nobody expects to be affected by a category one hurricane. Hurricane Florence made landfall south of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018, with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour. Many places throughout the Carolinas were devastated from the flooding, including Boiling Spring Lakes where there were problems from the dam breaking, break-ins, flooded roads, and roads being completely washed out.

Mom and Dad told me not to be worried, but I couldn’t help but wonder why we had to do all this preparation. After they shut down the schools, Mom and I went to the grocery store and got lots of food and water. She said we had to look for things that would not rot and could be kept in the pantry. We went down aisles and picked things up one by one: granola bars, crackers, cookies, chips, cereal and more peanut butter than usual.

Later, finding gas was more difficult. I could feel Mom getting tense. I can always tell because she clenches the wheel, grits her teeth, and cusses under her breath. Finally, we found a gas station that had gas.

When we got home, Dad was filling every water bottle in the house and the bathtub with water. There were more preparations to be done. Mom and Dad kept saying, “It won’t be that bad,” “We’ve been through this before,” and “Everybody else is overcompensating.” Suddenly, Dad came into my room and told me to pack a “To-go bag”, just in case we needed to leave in a hurry.

Later that night, everything shut off. I could feel my bedroom getting hot and didn’t hear the humming of the power that is usually going through the house or see the time that is usually lit up by the clock. I tried to go back to sleep but could not stop listening to the rain hitting the roof and the wind howling through the air. Finally, I fell asleep.

The next morning our house felt sticky from the humidity. Mom tried to keep it still smelling nice, so she used a specific Febreze scent that I would later hate from the memories it gave me. The first breakfast we had was eggs, sausage, and toast that was made on the grill outside. Dad kept going out into the storm to get videos for his friends in other parts of the country and every time he went out, Mom would get mad at him and tell him to come back in.

Each passing day it got worse. On the second day, we didn’t have any eggs for breakfast and there was no more warm water to shower with. There was more flooding and a story of a man getting stuck in the water. The third day was just toast for breakfast and we lost water. The good news? No more flooding. The bad news? The previous night, the dam had broken and when the water rushed out, so did the roads. My parents showed a distressed look that day as Mom started throwing things out from the refrigerator and freezer that had gone bad.

By now, we were trapped. Roads on both sides of us had washed out and we had no way to get out. She kept describing it to people as “anarchy”. I didn’t know what that meant until one night when I couldn’t sleep, I looked out my window and saw my dad sitting on the front porch. In one hand, he had his flashlight and in the other hand, he had his pistol. I knew then what my mom was talking about. The rumors were true. People were going around and stealing things out of empty houses or stealing gas out of cars. I knew my whole life was changing.

The next morning, we only had crackers to eat for breakfast. We drove by a big field in our neighborhood with crowds of people there. I asked what they were doing and Mom said they were waiting for MRE’s from the National Guard. She explained that MRE’s are food that people in the military eat, but why would we need to eat them if we aren’t at war? Then I realized, this was a war. A war to survive and to be able to survive when everything was back to normal.

Almost three years later and we are still not achieved full normal. We still have broken roads, people who couldn’t have their houses recovered, empty lakes, and memories, or nightmares. One amazing thing that is always remembered is seeing the community come together to help those who had it worse than them. From those National Guard members who air-lifted food, to those who cleaned the yards and cut down trees, they are thanked and appreciated.

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