Hurricane Irene came through last Saturday to pay a visit. Her temper was wildly unappreciated and if she moved any slower she would have been going backwards. I was raised in upstate New York, and only experienced one other hurricane in my life when I was under the age of 10, so this was my first true hurricane, and yes, I bought canned foods, filled the bathtub with water, had my flashlight, and huddled down to see what would happen.
As the worst of the storm passed, I drove around to survey damage and start taking pictures. One of the first gentlemen I happened across was Moody McKinney. Mr. McKinney was directing traffic in front of his Hunter Hill Road home into his u-turn driveway to avoid a large tree that had fallen and blocked the road. Making matters worse was the tangle of live wires in the branches and along the street. Mr. McKinney had been outside for the better part of seven hours when I met him, and I don't think I have ever met a more goodnatured, sweeter man in my life. Most people, myself included, would be miserable, cranky, and tired after spending the half the day outside in a hurricane directing traffic that, quite frankly, shouldn't have been on the road in the first place. Mr. McKinney was just happy to help. He was worried that someone would get into an accident and felt this was a simple fix. My hat off to Mr. McKinney and a thank you from the Rocky Mount community for your selfless deed.
The next morning I headed over to the Tarboro area while Alan (the other photographer here at the Telegram) handled the Rocky Mount area. Spent the morning talking with people and the overall feeling was relief, yes we had damage, yes we had no power, but it could have been so much worse! Even those who suffered serious damage were simply grateful that no one was injured. The positive attitude has continued through this week as the clean up efforts move forward.
A couple of quick points I'd like to make in case of future hurricanes:
1. Please please please please please do not go out in a hurricane! The reasons to be driving around, or in some cases walking around, in the midst of a hurricane are so few, that besides labor I'm having a hard time thinking of one. It's dangerous, and unless you are an emergency worker, there simply isn't a need to be out and about.
2. Please stay off the roads AFTER a hurricane! Do a walking tour to survey damage. Crews are scrambling to restore power, clear streets, and make the city safe again. Do your part by staying off the roads as much as possible.
3. Do not touch power lines. I can honestly say I feel the need to remind people of this fact. It is not safe.
4. Please make sure your pets are chained up and kept indoors. After the storm they can be scared and skittish and act out of character. They will also find the hole in your fence before you do. I met a variety of dogs on my walks around neighborhoods including a rather large doberman. Thankfully he knew the command 'Sit!' and I managed to get back to my car without issues.
5. 911 is for emergencies only! The city provides numbers for reporting downed trees and power lines.
6. Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or live alone.
7. As you clear your yards please use gloves and watch out for power lines. Spider and snake bites are a risk as you clear debris.
8. As you clear debris please do not put it in the road! Keep it on your property, as crews have been working around the clock to clear the streets.
That's all that's coming into my mind right now. A bit late, I know, but things to keep in mind for next time. Hopefully everyone is safe and healthy and on their way back to a full recovery!