Waiting for Florence

I’ve been watching the surfers as I sit on an Outer Banks beach this fall.

We’re all waiting. The surfers are patient. They line up on their surf boards in the ocean beyond the waves breaking on the beach. They’re watching the water, waiting for a beautiful wave, a high one with a long roll that they can ride all the way to shore. It’s a beautiful dance.

The rest of us are waiting for Hurricane Florence.

Whenever Joe and I talked about retirement we dreamily spoke of spending a month on a beach. I had always envisioned a condo. Joe saw us in a motor home. We would stroll in and out of the water, park our butts under a canopy and read to our hearts’ content.

So here we are, living in a 32-foot motor home separated from the Atlantic by a sand dune on the Outer Banks National Seashore. We’re in the Ocean Waves Campground in Waves, North Carolina.

The campground is about a mile from Rodanthe. It’s the setting of  “Nights in Rodanthe,”a movie with Richard Gere that makes the hearts of middle age women beat harder. It also happens to be some of the best surfing on the East Coast, according to Outside magazine.

It’s an odd little place where the people in big  beautiful vacation houses that probably rent for several thousand for a week are served by one Dairy Queen, a Dollar General and a handful of small restaurants.

We’ve been casually watching the weather, noting tropical storms, more for the impact of a day’s rain on our beach time than anything else. We have a weather radio that we’ve yet to turn on.

Florence started as a tropical storm way out by Africa. The forecasters at first offered cautious optimism that it would not become a hurricane and hit the East Coast. Few storms that formed in that part of the Atlantic have ever hit the U.S., said the weather person at a television station in Norfolk, Va.

Toward the end of the week warnings about Florence ratcheted up. It could become a Category 4 hurricane.


The Weather Channel.

Friends from the Virginia Beach area called Friday. Had we seen the news? They planned to leave their stick and brick house, jump in their motor home and head to Greenville, S.C.. Maybe you want to head for the hills too, the friend advised Joe.

Then North Carolina’s governor declared a state of emergency. Apparently it allows the state to bring in the resources it needs in case the storm strikes. It also allows farmers to use transportation to quickly get their crops out of the fields. (I don’t quite understand that part of the declaration. Can’t farmers always do that?)

Some of our campground neighbors have begun to leave. The first to go was an older couple in a motor home who had pulled in after us. Their son told Joe he had driven them down for a  three-week stay. We saw them filling up the motor home at a gas station on the way out on Sunday. They were headed north.

The pastor of the Fair Haven United Methodist Church, where we attended Sunday morning, urged the congregation to attend a community dinner that night to discuss preparing for the storm. Then he preached a sermon about not letting fear control your actions and separate you from God.

After the service, Joe spoke with the pastor offering our help with the community’s storm preparations. For the next six weeks this is our community. We have a bay full of tools ready to use to help the people in it.

The pastor accepted our offer and urged us to go to the meeting. He told Joe he has seen storms before, but this one, this one, has him afraid.

We plan to leave when an evacuation, which seems inevitable, is ordered. Our house is mobile. We will pack up the beach chairs, drive several hours inland, park and ride it out. When the all clear sounds we’ll return and help with the clean up.

For now, I watch the surfers and wait.



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