Friday, November 4, 2016


By: Lori Zeth
Journal Entry #113
Date 10/16/16

            What started out as a family reunion vacation ended a lesson learned well. Hurricane Matthew was aiming straight for Charleston, so we thought we would get stuck in evacuation traffic on the way out or be barricaded in. Either way we looked at it, our trip was going to be at risk if we didn’t make some sort of decision soon.

We weighed the pros and cons, and ultimately decided that leaving Charleston would be our best plan. Headed to the Outer Banks in North Carolina; my family of three started out on our road trip adventure on Friday, October 7, 2016, around 6 p.m. We spent some time at different spots along the way - stopping to nap here and there, and charging our electronics everywhere! We made it to Windsor, North Carolina on Saturday during the wee hours of the morning. As we drove down King Street, we found that the flooding river was rushing across the road.

            We were unable to take any other roads out of the area because water was overflowing them all. Thinking the flooded waters would recede soon, we pulled in to a parking lot and accepted that we would simply have to wait it out. We were already a day early for check-in at the rental house, so we weren’t upset and decided to make the most of it. After all, we left Charleston in order to ensure we weren’t going to miss precious days of our vacation; so we have to be patient and grateful that we’re just west of our destination!

The water was coming closer to our vehicle with every passing moment. The parking lot was filling with uncontrolled water everywhere. The rain drops weren’t slowing and the water was wickedly flowing. I was becoming more concerned that maybe we should try to drive through the intersection that had the lowest water levels – but my husband didn’t think we should put the vehicle at risk by driving it through water while the engine and computer was running.

Saturday was a bit of a blur to me, as I kept falling in and out of short naps. My husband and son kept busy by watching cartoons on Hulu and eating up all of the lunches and snacks we packed. When I was awake, I was studying my math skills for my upcoming math class in Fall’s second term. I remember eating a sandwich and taking photos. We slept until Sunday morning.
On Sunday, our son Jonathan woke us up to tell us we were completely barricaded in by water coming from every direction. We were sure the water would go away by now, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. We spent almost 36 hours in one spot, surrounded by water. I lost count after the first ten naps, so it doesn’t surprise me that I was asleep when the rescue boat came to help us.
On Sunday evening, Joe called for me with urgency in his voice. I awoke hazily but aware of the fact that there was a rescue team standing in hip boots in the waist deep waters right outside the car. The men asked us to come with them in the rescue boat, to a Red Cross shelter at the nearby high school gymnasium. We certainly agreed, so I called for Jonathan to wake up, and had him gather his things. We were being rescued and needed to hurry. The rescue boat took us and our belongings to safety, abandoning our vehicle in the overflowing parking lot all by itself.

The shelter volunteers were extra nice to us, understanding that we were accidentally stranded yet very grateful for the rescue workers and their efforts to keep us safe. We had to stay in the shelter Sunday and Monday nights. The director of the Red Cross in Bertie County, NC put us in a hotel and bought us Domino’s on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning, my husband called the gas station that is in the area our car was parked. He asked the cashier if the water was off the roads yet, if the nearby bridge was still overflowed, if it was safe to drive there. The cashier said the water was gone, so the director of the Red Cross drove us to the vehicle to assess the damages.

The total amount of damages and items that were lost or ruined by the flood was ZERO! The water never got inside the vehicle, nothing was wet inside, everything was still in perfect condition. We had stressed for three days straight that the car had filled with water, floated away, or smashed into the building it was parked beside.

Thankfully the rescue team of Bertie County NC knew to travel up and down the flooded zones and look for people who needed help. The man inside our rescue boat told us that he was 90% sure that we saved our lives by getting in the lifeboat with them. The Red Cross volunteers were from all over both North Carolina and South Carolina. They had been running this specific shelter for 3 days before we arrived to it. There had been a running total of 34 people come to them for food, shelter, and a warm place to sleep just during the few days of Hurricane Matthew.

I am ever so grateful to the men and women who put their lives on the line every single day, in order to protect my life and the lives of my loved ones. A special thank you goes out to Bertie County’s Rescue Teams and Volunteers.


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