When Hurricane Florence made landfall it stripped some areas of all traditional means of communications, leaving residents without any means of requesting help, even after first responders could respond—a situation that put law-abiding citizens who don’t exercise their Second Amendment rights at the mercy of criminals who view disaster as opportunity.
The crime spree began even before the storm made landfall when Brunswick County (North Carolina) deputies arrested four for felony breaking and entering in an evacuation area. Dollar General and Family Dollar stores were looted after all routes in and out of Wilmington, N.C., were closed. Burglars who hit South Carolina’s Pawley’s Island during the evacuation took a safe with contents valued at more than $100,000.
Sadly, they even come disguised as Good Samaritans. In Fayetteville, N.C., a man “helping” an elderly woman to the bathroom in a shelter stole her purse, pawned the jewelry within and is still at large with the victim’s credit cards. A quartet from Pennsylvania told law enforcement officers they drove to North Carolina to help with post-hurricane cleanup—after they were arrested for allegedly looting a convenience store.
Despite the fact the storm was downgraded by the time it made landfall, it set records for most rainfall in both Carolinas—and flood waters in some areas continue to rise. Hurricane Florence dumped 35.93 inches of rain on Elizabethtown, N.C., slightly more than an hour’s drive from my location.
Things weren’t nearly as dire here, although the power went out and the landline phone shortly after. Cell phone service died and when it finally came back connections were random and scarce—even text messages were stalled. All NOAA weather stations went black for a period and Internet finally went live again on Wednesday.
My situation wasn’t unique. A report issued by the FCC on Sept. 17 indicated in North Carolina 36 percent of the cell phone towers in Duplin County were down, roughly half in Onslow County and nearly 40 percent in Jones County. More than 187,000 subscribers had lost their cable and wired communications systems in the state, five TV stations were off the air and another 28 radio stations.
Water continues to rise in some downstream locations, so the situation is far from over. Thanks to the tireless efforts of first responders, volunteer rescue personnel and overworked utility workers, though, the catastrophe this could have become was largely averted. Hat tip to them all.