Flo Can Kiss My Grits

So I really thought my next excerpt would be different. I had it all planned out. I wrote my previous blog and ended it in a melodramatic cliffhanger. I intended to build a little mystery and hopefully stir up a little interest in my blog...cue echoing cricket sounds. I hinted at upcoming adventure, exciting new experiences and life-changing circumstances...but, nature played out it's own farce before I could hit the stage.

To be clear, Hurricane Florence has been no laughing matter and I am not trying to make light of the situation. In fact, I'm about to get a smidge dark. Like maybe a bit morose even. Buckle up, here we go.

Many people here in Wilmington have lost their homes, and some have lost their lives. The devastation is palpable. The destruction is all around us. Every stray shingle or smashed window a grim reminder of unavoidable loss.

Folks (like myself) who live paycheck to paycheck have been set back a few, and are diminishing their savings to keep their families afloat while they repair the damage and attempt to move forward .

Just to add a little gasoline to this trash fire, the subsequent flooding from the storm has drowned pretty much ALL local livestock (something like 500,000 pigs and like a million chickens have died!!!), it has washed out a coal ash dump site and mixed toxic coal ash with our municipal water source and now our roads are crumbling from the washout. The situation is pretty dire, to say the least.

Ever the quasi-optimist, I am doing my best to spread some positive vibes and kick stress to the curb. On the surface it's easy enough for me to do. I am one of the lucky few who weathered the storm with minimal loss. But if you step to the left on the timeline of my life, you will see why I shuck and jive to make light. My heart aches for those who have lost everything, I have legitimate empathy for them. I got lucky this time, but back in 1999 I was not so fortunate.

Hurricane Floyd took everything from me. EVERYTHING. I lost my home, my car, my job and even my pet turtle (who was exposed to poisonous flood water). I quickly became a burden on my friends, as I was broke, homeless and a bit depressed; which laid the ground work for many-a-spoiled relationship. Rock bottom I suppose.

It was bleak, and I'd like to tell you I bounced back and came out the other side stronger, but the truth is more complicated. The experience definitely changed me. It changed me the same way the death of my father changed me. It made life more realistic, more tentative and fragile. It made my fear more rational.

While it was very fortunate Florence downgraded before hitting land (we were bracing for a category 5, and I was just in knots about it), it's been my experience that water is to be feared just as deeply as wind, and we were still guaranteed lots of it. Mother Nature is not timid. These storms are not to be taken lightly; however, these moments are great opportunities for us to come together as a community.

For the most part, we did come together. I would like to completely disregard all of those who have tried to take advantage of desperate storm victims (you vermin gouging the elderly for tree removal and looters, thriving on vulnerability), and acknowledge the heroes who shine so brightly in this dark hour. I would like to say THANK YOU to all of the amazing people who are here, in Wilmington, contributing! You are the breath of life resuscitating our community! We have been privileged with every-wonderful-human from brave electricians, leaving their safe hometowns to work night and day to restore our power lines... to the organizations (and everyone working with them) like Chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen (www.worldcentralkitchen.org) which are feeding said workers as well as those in need. And also to my many friends about town who are lending a hand, feeding those who need it and organizing those who can help...you are the glue holding our civilization together and I am humbled in your presence!!!

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