The Calm Before Florence
by Christina Fain
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. As I write this entry, we are driving home from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, amid thousands of other people under mandatory evacuation orders before Hurricane Florence makes landfall. We have been delayed and rerouted, adding another four hours to our drive. One report said Florence is 400 miles wide. To put it in perspective, this is only 100 miles shy of the distance we drove from Ohio to Atlantic Beach.
Fortunately, we were scheduled to head back home on Tuesday anyway, but as always, it was hard to leave. The last day of a beach vacation always puts me into a depression that you wouldn’t understand unless you love the coast as much as I do.
We knew when we left Ohio six days ago that Florence was out at sea doing her thing and potentially churning up a mess, but our forecast looked fine and we weren’t concerned. Over the course of our long weekend, however, we started hearing about the intensity of the storm and listened to scenarios of the potential devastation this storm was likely to bring.
By Sunday, you could sense that the locals were getting concerned, and everywhere we went people were watching radar images of the approaching hurricane.
Monday morning at sunrise the sea was changing. The normally blue water had turned an almost mossy green. As the day went on, the waves went from breaking anywhere from 100 feet out from shore to crashing down right on the sand. At times, the waves weren’t breaking at all. They just rolled into the shore as long strands of churning foam.
By late afternoon bits and pieces of broken shells were littering the sand. This is unusual for this stretch of beach. By evening, you could visibly see the change the erratic waves were having on the shore. The otherwise loose, thick sand closest to the dunes had become saturated with seawater in spots. In other places the waves were carving deep, sharp angles in the sand.
Visitors and residents were still wandering the beach and playing in the overly warm water as they would on any other day, but the mood was different. Somber. After sunset, we took a final walk on the beach and spent time just looking out over the ocean thinking about the days ahead. We were literally standing on the edge of and dipping toes into what we knew were oncoming days of destruction and heartache.
There are no words to describe that feeling. For us, we can only imagine what will happen. The people of the Carolinas are about to experience it. There seems to be a lot of discussion and commentary on whether residents should leave or stay. Our decision was an easy one: go home, far away from the coast. It is estimated that Florence will cause so much destruction that over a million people may be displaced with no home to return to. Even though they have had advance warning and are preparing as well as they can, the locals are making life-or-death decisions that will no doubt forever change life as they know it. This year I was sad to leave, not because I would miss the fun of an ocean vacation, but for the local people who are already anticipating their losses. For now, the only thing we can do is watch.
Photos courtesy of: the Weather Channel and the citizentimes.com.
Tina began creative writing at a young age. Professionally, she has written for legal professionals spanning more than 20 years. As an over-thinker, mother of two, she draws her inspiration from her adult son and much younger daughter, as well as her personal experiences trying to navigate life’s beautiful complications. When not writing, she spends her time reading, hiking with her family and planning her next travel adventure.