‘Nightmare’ just beginning in Carolinas

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The stories and images I’ve read and seen coming out of North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence seem all too familiar.

No electricity; long lines for fuel, water and ice.

It was a scenario that played out on the Mississippi Gulf Coast more than a decade ago for weeks; an event that I never want to live through again.

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After Hurricane Katrina, I recall questioning if it was worth wasting gas to seek out ice, MRE’s and water. Several times, my family and I split up to stand in line for each. You really have no idea how much you appreciate those things we take for granted until you no longer have access to them.

In North Carolina, an Associated Press story said Brandon Echavarrieta struggled to stay composed as he described life post-Florence: no power for days, rotted meat in the freezer, no water or food and just one bath in a week.

“It’s been pretty bad,” said Echavarrieta, 34, his voice breaking.

Sounds really familiar.

Nearby, about 200 people lined up to buy 40-pound bags of ice as quickly as a Rose Ice and Coal Co. could produce it, said the AP story.

I cannot explain to you how much I missed not having ice in the torturous hot days after Katrina. Ice is something I will never take for granted.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, urging evacuees not to try and return due to flooded roadways and rising water, was spot on in saying “this feels like a nightmare that just won’t end.”

Thousands remain in shelters and I’m sure many are anxious to get back home.

“I know it was hard to leave home, and it is even harder to wait and wonder whether you even have a home to go back to,” Cooper was quoted by the Associated Press addressing 10,000 evacuees.

Unfortunately, I think it’s safe to say many of them won’t have a home to return to.

My younger brother and his family know this all too well.

As Hurricane Katrina approached the Mississippi Coast in 2005, he and his family evacuated and ended up in Opelika, Alabama. They were there for months because the home they once lived in about a mile off the beach was destroyed by 10 feet of water when the Katrina roared ashore.

Like so many others who did not have homes to return to, his family remained in Alabama for so long that he continued his job as a manager with Walmart in Opelika.

Fortunately, they were able to return to the Mississippi Coast and start their lives over in another home, while so many other evacuees from New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast never have returned.

I feel for the folks in the Carolinas because this is just the beginning of the nightmare for them.

The life they once knew will never be the same.

Rob Sigler is editor of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at Rob.Sigler@VicksburgPost.com.