Although Hurricane Florence did not have as devastating an impact as was predicted, it still did extensive damage in the Carolinas in both quantifiable and immeasurable ways. Officially making landfall on September 14, 2018 in North Carolina, the monstrous Category 4 Hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 by the National Hurricane Center. Despite the downscaling of severity, 29 people died directly as a result of the hurricane, while another 19 died indirectly from its effects. At a little over $38 Billion in damages, Florence is the sixth costliest Atlantic Hurricane to hit the United States. This estimation does not even include the predicted economic cost to businesses and industry in the area; this hurricane most definitely puts a strain on the economies of the Carolinas.
North Carolina in particular has been economically hurt by the storm. The NC Department of Agriculture has issued the figures regarding the cost of animal life that was lost as a result of Florence as well. Astoundingly, around 3.4 million chickens and some 5,500 hogs have been killed showcasing the overwhelming economic damage this hurricane has caused to businesses and the state itself.
This disaster affects me personally. Having lived in South Carolina for close to ten years before moving to Worcester, I made a number of friends that were affected by Florence. Seeing photos posted by friends, or even on the news, of places that I frequented and grew up is almost surreal. Phone lines strewn across the road, bloated rivers, and large standing bodies of water in places they should not be are some of the scenes gleaned from social media. Reactions from old friends have ranged from “insane” to that of “it wasn’t that bad.” Some of them never evacuated to be upstate with family or friends, despite the mandatory evacuation order. Many of my friends still have not returned to school due to the rampant flooding that still plagues the county school district. It is absolutely jarring to see people you grew up and went to school with being so personally affected by a disaster you only really read about in the news or see on television.
With the overestimated, but still high, cost of Florence, it is another punch in the gut to learn of two more tropical storms loitering in the Atlantic, with the potential to grow into two new Hurricanes. Tropical storms Helene and Isaac mark the end of hurricane season, which ends around November. Whatever the future may be it is everybody’s hope that we can be prepared the best we can and mitigate the human cost of these natural disasters as much as possible.