Stuck in in a house for six days with no power, no water, trapped by uprooted trees and water as far as the eye could see.
Alumna Rebecca Hedgecock and her family lived through this tragedy when Hurricane Florence ravaged Wilmington, NC: the place they call home.
“We have lived through several hurricanes while living in Southport, North Carolina but this one made a huge impression on me personally,” Rebecca, recent Master’s graduate of Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation said. “It was a very important reminder to never take anything for granted.”
Hurricane Florence was a Category 1 storm when it made landfall, which is the lowest a hurricane can be categorized as and does not generally result in large-scale damage. However, Florence was devastating because of high winds and flooding from the storm surge, heavy rainfall and over-flowing of inland bodies of water.
Rebecca’s neighborhood felt the impact of inland flooding when a dam burst making any travel outside of her community “impossible for several days”.
“We decided to stay because we knew how difficult it would be to get back into our neighborhood to survey the damage and start clean up,” Rebecca said. “Many of our neighbors stayed as well and knew that we could depend on one another.”
Rebecca said her family prepared for the storm with food, water and a generator. It took a week before the power and water were restored, but volunteers aided the clean up process.
“Electricians and tree cutters came from as far as Canada to help out with the cleanup,” Rebecca said. “During times of tragedy humanity shows it’s true colors and most times that color is pure light and love.”
While Rebecca and her family were able to remain in their home, according to the Governors office of NC, there are over 21,000 people who are homeless and must live in one of the 157 shelters across the state.
In a press release, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said, “This deadly storm has left a lasting impact on families, neighborhoods and communities across a wide swath of our state,” Gov. Cooper said. “Now is the time to pull together to help our fellow North Carolinians recover from Hurricane Florence and rebuild even stronger, and smarter, than before.”
While Rebecca’s possessions were ruined by flood waters, she said she is thankful her family and neighbors remained safe during the destruction of the storm.
“My husband, Jim, and I are very appreciative,” Rebecca said. “We help our neighbors and pray for those we do not know but wish we could help. Material things are of little value and can be replaced; life can not.”
Donations can be made to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund to help victims of the flood by texting “Florence” to 20222.