What started out as a Category 4 storm, Hurricane Florence made its landfall on the coast of North Carolina. The hurricane caused monumental damage and wiped out everything in its path.
With 35 lives lost as of Sept. 21 as a result of the storm, including those as young as 7 months old, the tragedy began to set in.
Children were ripped from their mother’s arms by the strength of the storm floods.
Stores were ransacked, emptied and looted, businesses were ruined from debris, families were forced to hide in their homes and the victims of Hurricane Florence waited out the national disaster.
More than 150,000 customers of electrics services were left without light or air conditioning throughout the violent storm.
After five days of darkness and flooding, many homes had their power turned back on Fri- day, Sept. 17. Despite the sun shining again and the storm changing directions, the e ects of the storm were not over and CBS News reported the worst of the flooding was still to come.
On Sept. 17, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said 16 rivers were at major flooding stages and three more were expected to peak.
According to CBS News, as of, Sept. 18, “Approximately 10,000 people are staying in shelters in North Carolina and first responders reported res- cuing and evacuating more than 2,200 people.”
Hurricane Florence has caused between $17 billion to $22 billion in property damage and economic output. This makes Florence one of the top-10 most costly hurricanes in U.S. history.
Saramonet Sunahara, California Baptist University alumna and Fayetteville, N.C. resident, lives in an apartment close to Ft. Bragg Army post where her husband, Sgt. Daniel Sunahara, is stationed. The couple was apart when the news of the storm first spread, with Saramonet Sunahara in California visiting family and her husband in North Carolina.
“I had never been through a huge natural disaster,” Saramonet Sunahara said. ‘I was worried about not getting back home in time and that I wouldn’t be home in time and that I wouldn’t be home with him. Hearing that there was no water was scary. I had to mentally prepare. It could have been the worst situation but we were lucky.”
The Sunaharas said they survived the storm by staying inside with flashlights, reading books to entertain themselves and eating non-perishable foods they grabbed before stores sold out the week before.
The couple did what they could to prepare and make each other stay calm and safe.
“Daniel knew that I was feeling anxious at night during the hurricane power outage so he made me a makeshift night-light out of his military glow sticks,” Saramonet Sunahara said.
Daniel Sunahara did much of the preparing at home while Saramonet Sunahara was still in California. He said the experience was hectic.
“I was generally more worried about the (other) people because they were losing their minds,” Daniel Sunahara said. “They would go into any store stressed out and overbuy supplies. I understand they were looking out for their families but so many people went overboard.”
Daniel Sunahara said he became fearful and concerned when he went looking for food, water and supplies and found little to nothing available.
“With the power outage, wind, rain and empty streets, it felt almost post-apocalyptic,” Daniel Sunahara said. “The only lights in the stores were above the cashiers. Everyone was walking around with flashlights. Stores were pitch black and gas station lines were more than 50 cars deep. When you went to the stores there were no more water, bread or fruits for sale. The aisles were empty and raided.”
Some families were luckier than others. Nicole Nava, CBU alumna, and her husband, also from Fayetteville, N.C., prepared by stocking up on food, water and supplies as well as filling up their bathtub in case they lost their water source.
“I didn’t believe it until I actually saw it happen and I saw the clouds rolling in,” Nava said. “It was out of my control and we just had to pray to God to watch over those who are heavily a ected and wait it out. The storm was so unpredictable and the unknown was scary.”
The Nava family did not have to deal with the brunt of the storm so they decided to take action by volunteering.
“It was hard to see people on the news being so affected,” Nava said. “We signed up through Manna Church to give back to those heavily affected by distributing water to those at the shelter along with any first responders and (emergency medical technicians). I’m happy to do this and give back to our community.”
The Federal Emergency Medical Agency o ers a number of resources, including insurance options, shelters, disaster assistance and more for cities a ected by natural disasters.
For those who would like to donate, multiple sites are accepting donations. From The American Red Cross foundation to Feed the Children, as well as The Salvation Army, many nonprofits and foundations are o ering monetary support and aid to those affected by the natural disaster.