Are we Prepared for Hurricanes Like Florence?

Jessica Cochran, Reporter

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Originating in the Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Florence left the Carolinas devastated and later landed as a tropical storm in the North-East. Florence caused major flooding and damage in the Carolinas. Florence, once a category 4 hurricane, turned into a category 1 when it hit land, yet it still caused so much flooding and damage. This hurricane has been responsible for 49 deaths, including people cleaning up after the storm. At least 10 people have died while cleaning up. Are people ready and prepared for another hurricane like that?

 

Elizabeth Freeman, a volunteer at the Red Cross, went to North Carolina to help people deal with the hurricane and to assist the shelters. She arrived right as Florence made landfall. Freeman explained, “I was deployed on a national deployment from Connecticut to Bladen County, North Carolina.” She went on to say “I assisted evacuees with their needs such as feeding, mental health, personal health, and just making them feel comfortable while being displaced from their homes.

 

Since there has been so much flooding in the Carolinas, it is going to take a long time for the flooding to go down because there is so much water. One of the continuing effects from Florence is going to be the major cleanup. Kathy Cochran local resident of Waterford, Connecticut, said that the biggest continuing effect is going to be the clean up. “The cleanup is going to continue for a while and the flooding is going to last. The water there is going to get very contaminated.” Freeman reported, “Parts of Bladen County received close to 36 inches of rain. I believe that the clean up will be ongoing for the long-term. Roads were washed away and bridges, dams and levees were compromised. Those with the flooded homes will have to deal with the clean-up of water, mud and eventually mold.”  The ground is so saturated that it won’t absorb any water. The flooding has caused so much damage that the clean up is predicted to last for a long time. Freeman also explained “ there were many people in the shelters who lost everything, including their homes in Hurricane Florence. Some of those people had just recovered from Hurricane Matthew, which hit two years ago. The trauma caused to individuals and families, especially the children, may take time to overcome. Some have moved into recovery shelters, which are long-term shelters, until they are able to get back on their feet again.”

 

The question is, are the people of the United States prepared for another hurricane like this? Freeman reported, “From the sheltering perspective, yes, I believe they were prepared. Before Florence made landfall, there were over 100 evacuation shelters set up and evacuees were given specific instructions from the local and state level on how to evacuate and where to go. The National Guard and local law enforcement were also on standby to assist with evacuations.”

 

Freeman also said “I am always surprised at the resilience of evacuees, and how they can find good in a really bad situation. Over time in the shelters, people make friends, learn to help each other (and shelter staff), share things and eventually are able to laugh and have fun.”

 

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About the Contributor
Jessica Cochran, Reporter

Jessica Cochran is a sophomore at Waterford High School. She lives in Waterford, Connecticut with her parents and her dog, Bear. She enjoys swimming in...

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