After growing up in eastern North Carolina, the only time I was fearful of hurricanes was when I watched them on the news. The media coverage of natural disasters is meant to attract attention, and to evoke sympathy from those unaffected. After the damage is done from one, the media simply moves on to the next. As viewers, we are led to believe there was a resolution, and the inflictions have been healed. When Hurricane Florence nearly leveled my hometown, Emerald Isle, less than two months ago, I learned that the news crews leaving did not mean recovery.
After Florence began its tear into NC, there was a shocking amount of media outlets covering increasing damages. The devastation taking place was made abundantly clear during the storm. Being that there was a mandatory evacuation (in both my hometown and Charleston), I was absent from the disaster. For three days, I obsessively refreshed my Instagram feed, waiting for more images of the destruction taking place. These included my town’s pier torn in half, basements which better resembled swimming pools and trees splitting through homes. Almost every hour, there was another story– emergency rescue teams having to save citizens from flash floods and a family crushed by a tree falling on their house, all taking place in my backyard.
After a few weeks, the stories subsided from national news channels, Facebook posts about the impact on my peers’ decreased and I was led to believe my town had been rebuilt. When I returned home this past weekend, however, I was greeted by the opposite outcome. The storm’s path became more and more evident the further north I drove from Charleston. Piles of water damaged furniture and personal belongings sat on the side of highways waiting to be removed by debris cleanup crews, trees still lay on their sides, roofs were still only covered by blue tarps instead of shingles. Natural disaster personnel are still inhabiting my town, nearly two months after the storm dissipated.
The problem with this stems back to the media. They move from issue to issue and only focus on what they deem is most current and most shocking, rather than what is most important to all of those watching. While I am upset about the reality of my hometown’s current state and the lack of media coverage, I realized society is dynamic, and there is a necessity of reporting on the most recent events in order to keep the public informed.
There are certain parts of my home which will take several more months to repair, and lives that have been ruined. Unfortunately, there were even two local suicides resulting from the storm. The effects of this natural disaster go much further than what the news reveals and it is crucial for those who are not impacted to understand that.