Survival Hurricane FlorenceAt the end of September, we took a trip, which had been planned for almost a year, to South Carolina. We were apprehensive due to Hurricane Florence of what would we find when we arrived. We first contacted the rental company who informed us the area was in good condition and the house we rented on the beach was untouched by the storm, the aftermath of the storm and the storm surges that had ravished a lot of areas in the southern part of North Carolina, close to where we were traveling. On our way, we stopped to visit family in Durham and traveling to that location was uneventful, the normal scenery we had viewed for the last ten years of vacationing in South Carolina. Our journey continued the following day where we witnessed the floods, downed trees, houses with the household items in the front yard and even on the roof, trying to prevent damage to personal belongings. We saw areas that were underwater and right next door to them, their neighbors were out cutting grass and picking up debris. We stopped at small cafes and talked to the locals who informed us that some were out of work during this time as they could not get passed roads that had been closed down due to flooding or their place of work had closed temporarily. We listened to their stories of how some evacuated and others stayed to ride out the storm. We heard how they returned to find all their belongings underwater or how the trees crashed down on their home allowing the rain to fill their homes with water. We heard about them trying to protect what was left with no electricity, no drinking water, no food as the local stores they frequented were closed. As we sat there in these cafes and watched the waitresses serve food with a smile on their faces appreciating the fact they had a place to work, we realized just how lucky we were to be a tourist and not a residence. We traveled backroads as the interstate was shut down due to the rising rivers. When we were able to get to a main highway, we were stunned that we were the only car on the road for a couple of miles and soon learned the reason. Ahead of us, all four lanes were barricaded off and we watched as a police car with sirens emerged from the other side of the barricade at a high rate of speed and then we saw water running north on the highway like a rapid river. When we turned around and took another route, there too were barricades and we watched as our GPS turned the normal “blue street” to red, which indicated a closed road. We began to feel anxiety as to what to do. We had no home in the area to protect, we had no relatives in the area to worry about, but both of us realized at that moment the fear these locals had and currently experiencing at this time. When we finally were able to reach 501, there were sandbags along the highway to protect it from the rising waters of the Waccamaw River. They had restricted lanes; one lane into the area and one lane out of the area. Military units were stationed in the parking lots just before the sandbagged highway with tents and army vehicles staying in the area to protect the route. As we crossed over the highway we saw houses that had water to the roofline, boats were upside down and lodged eerily next to the houses. We saw trees with no trunks as they were submerged in the overflowing water of the river. We were in disbelief. We had watched the news of Hurricane Florence, we had heard the reporters and saw the floods but it paled in comparison of seeing this devastation first hand.