As the storm drew close, my apprehensiveness grew exponentially. Hurricane Florence had now been given a category four rating as its cloud grew greater. Me and my daughter live on the Cape Fear River, located in the western part of Wilmington, North Carolina. Her father left when she was three years old, leaving me to raise her alone. Maternity for me was a calamity, leading to multiple emergency room visits and a great deal of strain. Without the assistance of any sort of health insurance, our small and broken family was forced to move into a one bedroom trailer, accommodated with an array of cracks and holes in the decrepit tin roof. Huddled around the singlar wooden stove, surviving on our winter food stamps, I prayed for my daughter Kim that she and I would make it out of the struggle we now live in.
Last week we received a warning from the state to evacuate in the coming days due to the incoming storm. With no money to afford a hotel or even pay for gas, I was forced to board up the small house of ours and hope for the best. With Kim inside resting, I gathered large pieces of plywood from a neighbor's donation, and boarded up the few windows around the house. The water levels were expected to become about 3-5 feet of height at the peek of the flood. Due to this, sand bags were sold around the city and suburbs. With the rate averaging fifteen dollars per bag, I was unable to afford one, so instead I invested in some towels from Walmart and used them as a sponge. The calm before the storm was provident throughout the city. The long lines to get gas and water grew smaller and people got off the streets. The storm was expected to ramble in overnight and begin its downpour. I brought Kim to my room that night and held her firmly as I pondered what the next few days would hold.
All of a sudden everything went dark. With fear eroding my stomach, I felt around the room until I grasped Kim and held her close. I carried her in my arms until I was able to lay her down safely under the warm covers of my bed. With no light in the house due to the busted power lines and boarded up windows, I turned to my candle light to help my vision. The wind was expected to calm down as the day drew close but it never seemed to let up. The first night was the hardest due to my bubbling fear that the tin roof would eventually rip right off of the old ceiling.
The next morning, we woke up to our first breach in the ceiling which left a stream of water into the kitchen. After sticking duct-tape over the small hole and placing a towel at the base, I considered it complete. But the rain would not stop. In fact, the rain got much worse. The following afternoon with the rain ever present, the water had come up to mattress level. The floors became a dark, mucky color along with the rising water line on the walls. I had previously read about the flood water’s catastrophic effects due to its chemical properties, as I wondered what to do. With the house being only a single story, we did not have the luxury to escape from the water so we had to evacuate. After hours had passed of contemplating how to evacuate, I formed a plan. A mile away the local police station had rescue boats taking trips to a safe area. I knew as long as I would be able to safely reach there, all would take care of itself. I put Kim on my back and started walking. The brown murky water reached of fish and chemicals due to its unpalatable properties. The waters were calm at first but as I came closer to the station, they started to become faster. The nearby river had accelerated the speed of the water and I was no longer able to walk. I forced Kim to grip around me tightly and I began to swim. Kim instantaneously began to cry as she normally would in a frantic atmosphere. After nearly twenty minutes of walking and swimming towards the rescue boats I was spotted. The rescue volunteers quickly came over, gathering Kim off my back as her cries became louder. The feeling of relief ran through my body as I sat on the boat for the first time. I began to count my blessings in that moment, realizing how lucky I truly was.