It was 22 years ago last week when Hurricane Fran wobbled ashore at Bald Head Island on a Thursday night and made a beeline for Raleigh, 130 miles inland. By the time the sun rose on Friday, parts of the capital were unrecognizable. Trees and power lines were down everywhere, the hum of generators were the only sounds to be heard, schools closed and were not able to reopen for more than a week.
In 1996, just under 250,000 people lived in Raleigh, and a little over a million lived in the Triangle. Double those numbers and you have today’s population - and now a storm that has all the potential to be even worse than Fran is threatening this area.
You know how California always talks about preparing for the “Big One,” an earthquake that they know is coming someday that will cause catastrophic damage but can’t pin down a time or location? Hurricane Florence has all the hallmarks of being North Carolina’s version of the Big One. Few storms approach our coast perpendicular to the shoreline, which amplifies the effect of the storm surge. Even fewer reach Category 4 status at our latitude. Fewer still have the bad fortune of hitting at an astronomical high tide.
Florence checks all three boxes.
Hurricane-force sustained winds could easily extend 50-75 miles inland. In the Triangle, we could be in for more than 24 hours of at least tropical storm-force sustained winds, and even those will be enough to topple trees and power lines.
All this to say: take this storm seriously. Anyone who went through Fran will tell you to not underestimate the fact that we can still experience incredible damage even this far inland. This isn’t a snow or ice storm where power crews can get out right away and start making repairs. In some cases, the places they need to go to make repairs will be underwater.
We were without power after Fran for six days at my house in North Raleigh. Other more rural parts of the area were powerless for upwards of two weeks. It’s been a generation since we’ve seen a storm threaten this much damage to Raleigh, and the number of new arrivals in that time who have never experienced a storm of this magnitude is very high.
Do not assume that Florence will be nothing more than a bad rainstorm. It will be worse, potentially much worse, and you need to prepare.
Our plan here at CC is to run as mostly business as usual today and tomorrow. Once the storm hits, we’ll probably shut down until the rain stops and power starts being restored. Feel free to use the comments to share things you need, things you have available, ask questions or offer advice, or any information on what things are like near your house when the storm hits. Our staff is ready to help facilitate anything you need or want to offer; just comment or shoot us an email (sbncanescountry at gmail) and, as long as we have power, we’ll do our best to help.
Above all, stay safe, and we’ll get through this together.