Charleston Narrowly Avoids Florence’s Wrath

All attention these past few weeks has been on hurricane Florence and her trek along the southeastern coastline. Despite leaving a trail of devastation in her wake, Charleston — which possesses nearly 90 miles of that coastline — seemed to escape unscathed.

“We got lucky,” said Amanda Knight, Mount Pleasant’s emergency management director. “There were no reports of damage, other than the power outage and a few trees down.”

The city had taken no chance in its preparations, putting hundreds of emergency employees on duty. They worked 12-hour shifts and slept at Town Hall and local schools to prepare for Florence; yet, by 11 a.m. on Saturday, all emergency operations were told to stand down. They had been holding their breath for days and were finally able to release it.

Instead of the predicted two-to-four foot storm surge on the barrier islands, inshore tides were two feet below normal. Apparently, Florence’s winds blew out to sea, causing only “light rain and wind” with no significant damage. The beaches — which can cost millions to re-nourish (such as rebuilding the dunes) — were also unharmed.

“The National Weather Service told us this would be a very dangerous storm, and unfortunately that turned out to be true for many just to our north,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. “Here in Charleston, we were blessed to be spared the direct hit, but we’re praying for those who were not, and stand ready to send help in the coming days to assist with recovery efforts.”

Hurricane relief for victims of Florence has already incited the emergence of several charities. From blood donations to those who actually get their hands dirty clearing communities of debris, the Carolina’s desperately need help.

Florence is estimated to have caused $18 billion in damage, with North Carolina getting hit the worst (around $15 billion is in that state alone). She forced thousands from their homes.

“It is probably a foregone conclusion at this point that Florence is going to set the state records for both North and South Carolina,” stated Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist at Aon Benfield Analytics in Chicago.

Donation is the best thing remote Americans can do to stem the flow of misery and discomfort coming from those in the south who have been displaced. We have a history of donating to the rest of the world (more than 14.3 million tons of donated American textiles help clothe people and families across the globe); it’s time for us to help ourselves.

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