I know I’m getting close to Wilmington, NC when I start to smell the salt and hear the incessant squawking of the seagulls.
What I see however is a totally different picture. What I see, is not what I remember growing up around.
Hurricane Florence swept through my hometown the week before my visit.
Trash, broken branches and endless pine needles liter the streets of this relaxed, beachy town. Trees rest themselves on people’s roofs and cars. Homeless people wander the streets and sit on the side of the road. I see the Disaster Relief truck sitting in the parking lot of the church I attended for most of my life.
I think to myself: “This is not the Wilmington I remember.”
I remember the local burger place–RJ’s–the one with the really good fries.
I remember joyfully running around the church building as a little kid.
I remember the beautiful pristine beaches: they’re gone.
I see the house I spent ten years of my life in: not nearly the same.
My house experienced a good amount of damage, costing my family lots of money that we didn’t expect to have to put out. The wooden fence around the backyard is down, a tree fell, some windows and doors leaked in water, roof damage, the garage door was torn apart, some siding came up, shingles were lost and a window shattered.
My house was the least damaged in the neighborhood.
I wandered the streets of the town I called home. I visited the church where I spent most of my childhood.
The Disaster Relief Effort passed out food and supplies to those in need. They served over 230 families in need that day.
While there, I see old friends.
They’re now homeless because of Hurricane Florence.
Currently they live in that church until they can salvage something else together.
For the most part though, in that one week, you could see the rebuilding taking place, people’s spirits recovering, the attempt to go back to their normal lives.
Even the physical damage had started to subside. You could see where people were paying close attention to, and taking care of, their homes and the community.
Wilmington has never ceased to amaze me. I love Wilmington with all my heart and it’s so refreshing to see that they are still the type of town that continues to take care of each other and work together to make things happen.
Now don’t get me wrong. Plenty of people were affected and are still currently being affected by Hurricane Florence all across the Carolinas.
But, as far as Wilmington is concerned, I’m proud to say that the people there are doing a pretty good job at slowly but surely working their way back to normalcy.