Hurricane Florence’s Effect On Apex Families

APEX, NC – On September 15, 2018, Hurricane Florence made contact with Apex. For us, rain drizzled and the wind shook the trees. For us, the damage had some impact on our daily routines. However, for our coast, the devastation was significant. Apex students, teachers, and parents spoke about their preparation for the hurricane, and the impact it had on their families.

Our first interview was with Mrs. Evans, a Career and Technical Education teacher.

Q: What did you do to prepare for Hurricane Florence?

A: We did like most people – we got water and filled our gas tanks for our cars and grill. We also filled up extra buckets of water, and we got a ton of food.

Q: I know your son lives in Wilmington. Did he have any damage to his house or vehicles?

A: They picked out one home that was at the highest point and had a generator. He works for a landscaping company, and after the storm he went to check out the damage. One of the people he was with had their house burnt and completely destroyed. His apartment complex had the roof torn off, and he had flooding in his apartment. The maintenance crew that he was supposed to call had left – so there was nobody to help him.

Q: You mentioned that you had students from NC. State and UNC. How did that come to be?

A: I have a niece and a nephew who both go to NC State this year. One of my nieces has a boyfriend at UNC. Both NC State and UNC told students to leave. On Wednesday, we took in the three college students as well as my daughter, her husband, baby, and dog. We had a full house!

Q: Have you ever experienced a similar event like this in your life?

A: I have – but it was up North. We would deal with similar situations in the winter. We would deal with significant amounts of ice and snow. We knew we could lose power, and we would do similar prep. However, we knew if you lost your power you would freeze to death. In this case if you lost your power, you would be really hot.

Our next interview was with Nicholas Sclafani, class of 2019.

Q: What did your family do to prepare for the hurricane, and what areas of your house at Oak Island were affected by the hurricane?

A: We prepared for the hurricane by bringing our furniture from outside to the inside. We had some rain damage, some of the sockets got ripped off, and our roof had flood damage that resulted in having a hole in our roof. We also had siding in our pool and around our yard.

Q: What did you all do to prepare for the hurricane here in Apex?

A: We unplugged everything, and we ended up having our power go out for a couple of hours. We went to my Grandma’s house who still had power.

Q: Do you know anybody who lives on the coast and has been directly affected by the Hurricane?

A: I worked at the restaurant at Oak Island. I think they took some damage since they are beach front. However, I think they are back open and working.

Q: Have you experienced another event like this before?

A: The only event similar to this Hurricane was Tropical Storm Matthew. The house in front of us was flooded with sand. The door was ripped off and when you walked inside your head was at the ceiling. It was a “grandfather” house, so it wasn’t on stilts.

Our next interview was with Andrew Bounds, class of 2019.

Q: What did your family do to prepare for Hurricane Florence?

A: Before the hurricane, we took all of our bottles and jugs and filled them with water. We had about twenty sitting on the counter. We also made sure we had non-perishable food in our pantry– snack food essentially.

Q: Did you all lose power or have any lasting effects on your home?

A: There was debris all around. Our power flickered here and there, and on Sunday it was flash-out but would come back on shortly after.

Q: Do you know anybody on the coast who was directly affected?

A: I don’t know anybody on the coast directly affected, but a friend of mine lost water in Raleigh.

Q: Is this the first time you have experienced an event like this?

A: I believe there was an event that was worse for this area. I think we had a tornado that came through that caused more power outages, debris on the ground and other issues like that. However, we got a lot more rain from the hurricane.

Our next interview was with Gina Pennisi, an Apex High school parent.

Q: What was the first thing your family did to prepare for the Hurricane?

A: We had to first take down all of the banners at Apex High and Apex Middle from our sponsors because otherwise they would be destroyed. The next thing we did was take everything off of our decks, made sure nothing from our yard would launch into somebody else’s yard. We also checked some of our larger trees to make sure they were not weak or would have branches become projectiles.

Q: I know you have a son in Wilmington, what happened there?

A: On the Monday before it hit, I went down at 11:00 p.m. to evacuate his fiancé, two cats, two dogs, and five chickens. They stayed here for two weeks. My son came back on Thursday, and he did what he could to secure their home and two businesses before he left Wilmington. However, he couldn’t get back until this past Wednesday. It meant about another week away from work and home. When he got back to Downtown Wilmington, he discovered they lost tiles on the roof, the rain water leaked around the chimney and through the roof. They had no power, no air conditioning, so that meant a lot of mildew and mold. There was a lot of clean-up to be done.

Q: You mentioned the Cajun Navy. What is the Cajun Navy, and what did you all do to help?

A: The Cajun Navy is a nonprofit organization based out of New Orleans. However, they have a group that are currently boots-on-the-ground in Wilmington. I found out about them because my son sometimes volunteers with them. They needed gasoline for the tree-service groups to start getting relief efforts working. They also needed water and other necessary supplies. We brought one truck-load in that my son, husband and I donated Wednesday when we took him back. I mentioned to Coach Cooper that we could possibly get the Cross Country team to donate some items. Within half a day, the Cross Country team filled my van with needed supplies a second time. We took that down to the Cajun Relief group on Saturday. They were down to their last bucket of bleach, no towels, no water, and one bag of dog food left. The timing was perfect for them.

Q: How would you describe the scene when you went to Wilmington? Was it different or similar both times?

A: The first time we went in, it was really bad. On Wednesday, they had large military presence and were attempting to airlift water and meals ready to eat (MRE’s) in. They had the Military presence because they still had no power, and it was difficult. When I went the second time, they had restored about sixty to seventy percent of power across the city. However, the Cape Fear River was cresting, making the flooding worst. Kinston to Jacksonville on Wednesday was far worse; it was in very bad condition.

We hope all of our Apex families stayed safe during the storm.

Image Credit to UNC-TV for all images shown. The images shown are from Eastern NC.

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