By now, nearly everyone has heard about the colossal storm closing in on the eastern United States. Hurricane Florence is a category 4 or 5 storm, depending on the time it is viewed, but it is a devastating force of nature in any right.
The authorities, from the National Weather Service all the way to the governing bodies of states in the storm’s path, have been clear about the potential scope of damage. Don’t risk it, they say. No possession is worth a person’s life, and there’s no way anyone in the storm’s path isn’t risking complete ruin.
And while the news shows signs of dozens, and even hundreds of vehicles flooding out of the soon-to-be affected areas with virtually no one going in the other direction, that doesn’t mean the said places are empty. Despite pleas and prompts to evacuate before it is too late, many holdouts remain.
For some people, leaving just doesn’t make sense. They see no reason to flee, as they feel confident in their ability to bunker up and survive the worst Mother Nature has to offer. They likely get this sense of confidence from a history of withstanding similar storms after a lifetime of living in the area.
Take Mickey Gentry, a construction worker who has lived in Wilmington, North Carolina since 1968. If a half-decade in the area wasn’t enough to make him feel at home, he’d be called a drifter. But while the storm approaching could make even the most grounded mainstays of the area flee for their lives, Gentry isn’t taking that approach.
At least, he isn’t taking it again. Back when Hurricane Fran hit in 1996, Gentry left. He also regretted doing so, as it took him days to get back to his home. So now he’s waiting it out – boarding the windows, filling his tub, breaking out the camping stove, and rounding up everything he can find in preparation for Florence’s wrath.
He said: “The noise, that whistle of the wind, it will drive you crazy. It will wear on your psyche. It still spooks me.”
One would think that is the least of his worries. He isn’t the only one staying around – multiple people have been spotted on news broadcasts surveying the area. There are always holdouts whenever a big storm hits. Even after evacuation orders are given, it is impossible to ensure everyone is out of the affected area.
Beyond the flooding and wind damage to be expected from the storm, there will almost certainly be long-running power outages and problems with travel infrastructure. Such a situation could also lead to issues with sanitation, creating conditions ripe for disease to spread.
A retired paper factory worker spoke about the storm’s projected path, saying it could hit anywhere in the state and posing the question of where he was supposed to run to. He’s also electing to stick it out – a brave, and perhaps in some peoples’ opinions, foolish choice as Florence closes in.