My mom woke me up in the middle of the night. “April, we have to go. The water is going to come in our home.”
I lived in Rocky Mount, NC in September 1999 when Hurricane Floyd flooded our home on Bridgedale Drive with over three feet of water. I was in the seventh grade. I waded through waist deep water with my mother and father to escape our home. We spent one night in the shelter at Benvenue Elementary School, and then the next day we reached the home of close friends in Nashville, NC.
When we were finally able to return home several days after the water receded, our home was a disaster. I can still remember the smell. I remember sitting on my soaked bed crying over everything we had lost. Close friends and our church family washed our clothes, cut pictures out of albums to save the pictures, sanitized things we hoped to save, and helped us empty our home. At first we thought FEMA might help us save our home, but it was determined that our home would never be the same – harmful mold was always going to be an issue. So eventually, our home was bought out by FEMA. A portion of Bridedale Drive is now empty lots where homes used to sit.
I realize that my family was far more fortunate than others. We were together. We had saved our cars. We turned to my grandmother’s home for refuge. But, for the first time in my life, I realized that my parents could not always protect me. Yes, they did their best to keep me safe. We got out. We survived, but the devastation of this hurricane was painful. It was scary. It was hard.
As we recover as a community from Hurricane Florence, remember the children. Remember that many of them feel as lost and as unsettled as their families do. Where do you turn when the adults in your life are supposed to have all the answers, but they do not?
We turn to one another. I made it through Floyd with friends who took me for sleepovers, trusted adults who helped get me to school, a church who brought me new jeans and a blow dryer, and a community who step by step found life again.
We have done this before, and we will do this again. I simply encourage you to remember the children. Disaster touches them too.
By: April Coleman, Pastor of Families and Children, Lafayette Baptist Church, Fayetteville, NC