Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc on our Carolina coast. Torrential wind and rain hammered down on our communities, destroying homes, flooding our cities, and devastating lives. It’s been categorized by locals as the worst hurricane in history for Morehead City, and residents are still finding ways to recuperate. But in the midst of devastation and destruction, I watched my community pull together and lead by example just to help others.
Hurricane Florence created many opportunities to serve.
During times of devastation and great sadness, I’m often reminded of my good friend and mentor, Beulah Raynor. This wise woman lived to be 102 years old, so I always take her pearls of wisdom to heart. Years ago, she gave me a piece of advice that still holds true today. She said, “If you’re feeling down, do something for somebody else.” It will get your mind off of yourself and your own worries. That’s exactly what Hurricane Florence has given us an opportunity to do.
Shortly after Florence hit our coast, my wife, Carol Joy, and I decided to help residents in need of supplies. Our church reached out to a nonprofit out of Nashville, Tennessee that specializes in disaster relief, and within a few days, a semi-tractor trailer full of supplies was in our church’s parking lot. It was a daunting amount of supplies, and we wanted to spread the word. We posted on Facebook, and the story appeared on local TV stations. Luckily, we were able to provide items to those struggling to buy food, cleaning supplies, and other daily essentials since the hurricane wiped their resources clean. I don’t tell this story to pat myself, Carol Joy, and our church on the back. It’s just one example of the many ways you can get involved in the aftermath of disaster.
The damage of a home can be too much for some people to repair. Some homeowners may find it easier to wipe their hands clean of their damaged property and start new with a different home. This opens up the market to a slew of new sellers. But, not everyone is a real estate expert. They don’t understand the intricacies of selling in a damaged area or even how to begin looking again. This is why people rely on experts.
On that same token, if there are a bunch of new sellers, there are going to be a load of new buyers. Apartment tenants may use this opportunity to seek home ownership, not wanting to get back into apartment living. Some of the same sellers who decide to start new and sell their home will also be looking to buy something else in the area. For as much damage as we have in the Carolinas, we also have a number of homes that have minor damage and could easily be fixed up and sold. This is where real estate agents and investors can use their talents and expertise to make a big difference: Get involved with these new sellers and buyers and give them honest guidance on how to sell their home after Hurricane Florence.
Be grateful in the midst of adversity.
The Sunday after the storm passed, Carol Joy and I were at church Sunday morning. Our preacher, David G. Price, gave a special talk. After the experience of such a destructive storm, we didn’t need a sermon. We needed a talk — something that gave us a personal connection to one another.
He reminded us and the congregation that there is nothing in our lives that will be 100 percent bad, and every terrible experience evokes a lesson. The storm was horrible, but it gave us an appreciation for things we took for granted, like hot water and hot meals. He referenced Romans 5: 1–4, which read, “Rejoice in hardship because even hardship in itself brings about blessings because it is hardship that teaches us perseverance.” We have to focus on what’s really important in this life, as our preacher taught us that Sunday, and those important pieces are encompassed by faith, family, and friends.
I was once again reminded of how grateful we should be when I went with a gentleman I know to see a FEMA representative after the storm. He and his mother’s home was destroyed, displacing them from their house. A few times during our conversation, the representative said, “Congratulations on being a survivor.”
Our homes had been destroyed. Power was cut, and waters ravaged through our streets. People were suddenly without human necessities for survival — but we had survived. We lived through a storm that killed people. We have to be grateful for that, and we have to find a way to persevere.
Most people have a servant’s heart by nature.
I’ve been amazed in just two weeks since Hurricane Florence. I’ve enjoyed hearing and witnessing stories of our residents helping each other get back to life after this storm. I remember seeing billboards from businesses in our Carteret County that read “Carteret Strong,” referencing strength and encouraging support for our local community. Our entire community, family, and friends have been brought closer because of this tragedy. It was a blessing in disguise that taught us the power of our collective strength. This is a feeling I won’t ever forget and a lesson that has amazed me.
Going forward, I hope we take Hurricane Florence’s lessons with us. What should we do when we’re ravaged with disaster whether physical, emotional or spiritual? In the midst of everything, no matter what’s going on, give thanks, for there is always something to be thankful for. Make sure you find it.