North Carolina Army National Guardsmen and local emergency services assist with evacuation efforts during Hurricane Matthew in Fayetteville, N.C., on Oct. 8. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Shaw
The Fort Bragg area I live in is miles from the beach, but when an inland cold front crashed into a tropical storm churning overhead, the results were catastrophic. What the news media isn’t reporting highlights why self-defense should always be a high priority.
My family, friends and I fared much better than others as Hurricane Matthew churned up the North Carolina coast, but after 18 inches of rain fell some 60 or 70 miles inland, concerns about high wind damage quickly took a back seat to walls of water. Unfortunately, the death toll continues to climb and the crisis is far from over.
News coverage is extensive, especially as nearby Lumberton and I-95 continue to flood. There are some things, however, you probably won’t read about. Here are a few.
No matter what Little River Band claims, help is “not” always on its way. As the storm neared, old-fashioned land-and-wire-based phone service went down in one area—making it impossible to call anyone, much less 9-1-1. Things got worse after a few cell phone towers went dark and long before the storm wall struck, at least one county suspended all emergency operations (their words, not mine).
Most departments were working overtime to save lives, but the call backlog quickly grew. Getting around was so bad that the radio traffic I monitored in Hoke County included a supervisor telling a deputy to finally go home. The response was, “I can’t get home … might as well stay on duty.”
Nearby Lumberton, out of power/water, has the highest violent crime rate in the entire state and first responders are still dealing with rising water under sunny skies. Power isn’t scheduled to be restored in some areas until Oct. 16—more than a week after the storm.
I-95 is blocked in several locations and traffic from the East Coast’s main north-south artery has been diverted through the tiny town that serves as our county seat. Traffic is frustrating and cars are backed up for blocks at the few gas stations with power. The weary travelers are rather, well, let’s just say unfriendly enough that a law enforcement officer is stationed at most of those locations. The development isn’t something I anticipated, although I filled up our vehicles before the storm out of habit.
Water is back on, although it’s not elsewhere and store shelves are bare. Thanks to my 40-gallon emergency stash I was never in trouble, but walking to the flooded ditch with a bucket between toilet flushes gets to be a chore. I’ll restart my gutter-based, grey-water collection system after things settle down, but I was really blessed so far in this catastrophe. Sometimes preparing for the worst and praying for the best pays huge dividends—and temporarily silences the naysayers who question your dedication to maintaining those deep-cycle batteries, solar panels, generators and emergency food/water supplies in fair weather.