Hurricane Florence made landfall this morning, bringing 90 mile-per-hour winds and storm surges of several feet to coastal North Carolina. Emergency teams from across the country—New York, New Orleans, California and more—flew in to help with the disaster effort. The Department of Defense had mobilized 9,700 troops and, most importantly, the government had ordered 1.4 million coastal residents to evacuate.
Even in the face of this massive mobilization, and the dramatic news coverage these storms inspire, thousands of residents chose to stay in the storm’s path. In New Bern, N.C., a city of 105,000, first responders rescued 200 people overnight, with 150 still awaiting help as of the filing of this report in the New York Times. In Richland County, emergency officials urged citizens not to text 911 for help, saying the tech is too new to test during “a critical weather event.” And this Waffle House location caught this reporter’s notice when it closed under duress from police, then reopened.
UPDATE: @WaffleHouse did not close willingly. They were told to shut by Shallotte, NC police. But when the Bojangles (@Bojangles1977) across the road stayed open, it became an old-fashioned Southern fast-food stand-off that @WaffleHouse wasn’t about to lose. They’ve now reopened!
— Matt Bradley (@MattMcBradley) September 13, 2018
Bystanders watching it all unfold from the comfort of their dry homes can only ask why, especially when The Weather Channel is rolling out blockbuster graphics like the one below. Check it out below, then read how it was done on Wired.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) September 13, 2018
According to this article from Vox, there are a few reasons. Some people don’t have the financial means to leave. Some are ill or elderly. Others worry about leaving their pets behind. Still, others worry about having their property looted. Those putting themselves in harm’s way will hopefully stay safe, or get a hand what former New York City deputy commissioner of emergency management Kelly R. McKinney calls the “teeth of the response.”
According to Time Magazine’s inside look inside North Carolina’s Emergency Response Center, there are rows of teeth prepared to bite this storm back. “Helicopters had been positioned across the border in Tennessee. More than 160 swift-water rescue boat crews, 2,800 National Guardsmen, and fire and EMS teams who’d come in from across the country were also mobilized and ready.”
And while those teams will be starring in national news footage, McKinney’s heart lies with the emergency managers supporting them. “Over the coming days, the emergency managers will beg, borrow and steal everything they need to get the job done. And we must help them.”