December 9, 2018
On September 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wilmington, NC. The devastation that followed was of epic proportion. Although it weakened from a category 3 hurricane to category one before hitting the coast, the rains and storm surge that accompanied the event were disastrous. It has been estimated that more than 30,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in North and South Carolina – about the same number as were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey on the Texas coast a year earlier. In New Bern, NC, a town of only 30,000 residents, more than 4,300 homes were damaged or destroyed.
I visited New Bern in mid-October and the clean up was still going on. There were mountains of debris stacked beside roads in front of houses that must have been uninhabitable. However, as I had seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston in September of 2017, most houses appeared as if nothing had happened when viewed from the curbside. Some homes showed evidence of water depth on their exteriors, but many did not. It was impossible to tell whether the homeowners had vacated the properties or were inside relaxing in their living rooms. It was a very odd experience.
As I write this, I am on my way to Paradise, CA – the town that was virtually wiped off the map by the Camp Fire which burned 150,000 acres and destroyed an estimated 10,000 homes. I’m curious how my impression will contrast with that of the hurricane damage I have seen.