Musings on a holiday weekend


Lindell John Kay


Staff Writer

Monday, September 11, 2017

Here we go again ...

After a decade at the beach, my wife said she hated to say goodbye to the sand and surf (and fresh seafood), but at least our days dealing with hurricanes were at an end. We were both relieved to be putting all that behind us when we moved to the Twin Counties.

Boy, were we wrong.

Back in 2006, we rode out Tropical Storm Ernesto in a little travel trailer on Topsail Island. I remember holding onto the kids while the wind rocked the tiny trailer back and forth.

When a storm hit the following year we rented a room at a hotel in Wilmington. The hotel didn't sway with the wind, but was flooded with water up to our ankles in one night of endless rain that felt like 40 days and 40 nights rolled into one.

A few years went by with relative quiet, then the rivers flooded after a storm that didn't even have a name.

Then a thunderstorm spun off a surprise tornado that tore through Jacksonville like a runaway freight train. No one was killed, but entire neighborhoods were gone.

Arriving here from a short sabbatical in my hometown of Sanford, I remember telling Michelle, "Well, at least we're far enough inland that we don't have to worry about hurricanes."

Then I started hearing about Hurricane Floyd. I think I was in Texas in 1999 because I don't remember Floyd at all.

But folks around here can't forget. Every time it rains someone inevitably evokes the storm scourge of the Twin Counties by saying, "at least it's not as bad as Floyd."

I heard an official say the flooding from Floyd was a once in 500 year event. I thought, good, that means I have nothing to worry about.

Then less than two decades into that 500 years, Hurricane Matthew blew into town followed by a deluge of Biblical proportions. It was my turn to work that weekend and had to interview people who lost everything in those floods.

A stubborn Princeville resident who lost two houses in 20 years said to me, "well, at least now we know for sure we don't have anything to worry about. There's no way another hurricane is coming through here in my lifetime."

I thought about that man as I wrote this column with Hurricane Irma barreling towards us. I wonder what he would have to say now.

Hell, he'll probably just rebuild a third time if Irma is as bad as they say. I'm not sure whether I admire him or pity him. A little of both I guess.

I mentioned Texas. As I said in this column last week, my in-laws lost everything in Hurricane Harvey. They're contemplating moving here. They said it would be nice to get away from the coast and live in the middle of North Carolina where they would be safe from hurricanes. I didn't know whether to laugh at them or cry with them.

Irma is 400 miles wide. And might be headed for the mountains. Nowhere in North Carolina is safe from hurricanes.