What a roller coaster of a week. As we anxiously watched every news outlet regarding Hurricane Matthew we finally realized no one knew exactly what course the storm might take. We finally heard that it was downgraded to a Cat 1 and would be turning and just skirting the coast of North Carolina. With that in mind we took off Saturday morning in a light drizzle to see the North Carolina State vs Notre Dame game in Raleigh, about an hour and a half from home. It was the 50th anniversary of the first game played in Carter-Finley Stadium so it was a pretty big deal. As we traveled the highway we saw several cars in ditches along the side of the road and assumed they were just not driving as carefully as they should. Who knows? We ran into occasional heavy rain but then it would let up.
As usual we met my cousin Becky and her husband Billy at a local mall so we could ride together to the game. Although we always tailgate we decided this week to just go out for breakfast instead. If you are ever in the area of the NC State Fairgrounds or the Jim Hunt Horse Complex in Raleigh be sure to stop by Pam’s Diner for breakfast. It is absolutely the best. There was a waiting line but it was so worth the wait and the cost for two delicious breakfasts was only $17.
By this time it was raining heavily so we put on our rain suits and headed to the stadium. I know – it was crazy but it wasn’t the craziest thing I did that day! As we sat in the pouring down rain and watched two teams slip, slide, fumble and fall I wondered if I had lost my mind but knew I was getting one of the “best wives of the day” award! Fortunately State won – how sad it would have been to sit there for four hours – oh yeah, the game was delayed at half time for lightning 10 miles away – and lose!
After the game we stripped off our soaking wet suits, got in the car and headed back to the mall to get our car. All I wanted was a cup of hot coffee. Billy knew right where a Starbucks was located very close to our car so that was the first destination. How disappointed and surprised we were when we saw the sign saying they were closed due to the storm. How bad was the storm? Then we realized the mall was closed and it was 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon! That should have told given us a clue as to what was ahead.
Jerry and I hopped in the car and slowly started home. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of our trip home but suffice it to say it was a treacherous drive. We were rerouted only once due to high water but there were many places that had standing water and we had no choice but to go through. When we finally got to Kinston every street we turned on was flooded and we were beginning to wonder if we could get to our home. Of course nothing was opened so there was nowhere to stop so we had no choice but to keep going. Obviously there was no power anywhere because the town was dark! We know we are not supposed to go through standing water but we plowed anxiously on taking turn after turn trying to avoid the high, rising, rushing waters. Short of knocking on a stranger’s door and asking to spend the night we had little choice. Finally we saw the house in the distance and knew that although it would be most uncomfortable to say the least we could walk home in the driving rain if we had to. Pulling in my driveway was a wonderful feeling and an answer to our prayers.
I woke up Sunday morning, got my usual cup of coffee and stumbled to my chair in the den. Jerry looked at me after a few minutes and asked if I was awake. Well, no I wasn’t but I knew he was asking for a reason and that’s when he told me there was a tree on the house. I immediately got up and tried looking out of the window to see but it was so dark I couldn’t see anything. I’m still not sure how he knew! Fortunately it was a cedar tree from the neighbor’s and it didn’t do any damage. Other than debris in the yard, limbs, leaves, etc. we had no other damage.
Our next concern though was getting the motor home out of the warehouse where it is stored since the warehouse is located in the flood zone. We went out there but the road into the warehouse was knee deep in water and we knew we couldn’t drive the RV out. Eventually (hours later) we located a key for another door and we were able to drive through the warehouse instead of around it. Now the RV is home and if we lose power we can use it.
Next on the agenda was deciding about our trip. We quickly realized that we couldn’t leave Monday and with the threat of widespread flooding we recognized that we best cancel our trip. My first call was to Lehigh Gorge Campground and I explained that we had to cancel our reservation. As soon as I said we were from Eastern North Carolina he quickly said, “say no more” and he understood completely. Next I called Artillery Campground in Gettysburg and got the very same response. I don’t know when we will visit those campgrounds but we will for sure. I couldn’t have gotten a nicer response. My last call was to the Small Country Campground in Louisa, Va and while she was very understanding she could not refund our deposit but we do now have a credit there.
Monday morning we awoke to much cooler temperatures and I decided to get my daily bike ride in early. It was a very quiet morning, the calm after the storm I guess, and the only sounds I heard came from generators and sirens. A bit eerie to say the least.
Of course we are disappointed that our trip had to be canceled but we are so grateful that we are safe and warm. There are many who have lost their homes and all that they own plus at this point 14 lives have been lost in North Carolina due to Hurricane Matthew. We know that there is still more to come as the rivers fill and begin to overflow the banks. On day two we are already experiencing gas shortages and if the town gets landlocked like it did in Floyd the food supply will diminish. We have tried to prepare as best as we can. Although we lost power for about 12 hours yesterday it came back on just before dinner last night so our lives have barely been disrupted. A canceled trip is the least of our concerns and we both realize how very fortunate we are. Now it’s time to put the love of Christ in action. Both Jerry and I have called and put our names on the volunteer list so hopefully we’ll get called soon. In the meantime, stay safe folks and God Bless.