The anticipation of returning of the island heightened each day they delayed entry. Finally on Thursday September 20 residents were finally allowed to access Topsail Island. With our key cards we left my friends and headed for the bridge. the line across moved swiftly. My friends took me to my house. On the outside my house looked good. It was standing, the roof in tack and no water in the bottom area.
I placed my key in the lock, nothing. I couldn’t get it to turn or get the door to budge. Disappointed but relieved that the house seemed in tack, I left my suitcase with my friends and headed to the grocery store(my day job) to see what was going on there. My friends headed to their place of business to check on the conditions there.
At the grocery store several of my co-workers were hard at work clearing spoiled food. I began helping for several hours. I decided to head back to my house and try to get the door open again. I put the key in, and after much effort I heard the lock turn excited now I pushed the door. It didn’t open. I was determined to get inside. I pushed and pushed and finally it budged!. Inside looked ok at first glance. I maneuvered through the maze of furniture (deck and porch furniture we had squeezed inside) and made my way to the stairs and up to my room.
Again at first glance it looked ok. I noticed that part of the storm door was open and their was some sand scattered around. The carpet was wet-very wet in spots. but nothing else seemed wet. My cloths in my closets which are in the eves were damp. I could smell the dampness in the whole house now.
Returning downstairs to look closer, I saw that the water had come though the ceiling. and the carpet downstairs was wet also. When my housemates finally returned home and we began to move furniture back out into the porch we discovered one chair under the water spot in the ceiling was soaking wet.
Our damage in our home was minimal. We were greatly blessed. Others however were not so fortunate. Many homes have lost their roofs. Windows were blown in. Objects went through walls and destroyed the outside and inside. Many homes on the sound side were flooded with several feet of water.
As you go around the island you see the destruction. I have several friends who have major damage to their homes and one who has lot her home.
The beach is littered with wood and debris. The beach is still closed and will be for some time to come. There isn’t an access that has steps down to the beach side.
People are trying to pick up the pieces. It will be awhile before things are back in full swing. For now we are happy to have small pieces of normalcy like the grocery store being back open. Several businesses recovered quickly and that has given support and encouragement to others. The island core is the first place we are seeing signs of “normal” life returning.
We are living day to day, moment to moment. One day at a time. Present moment is key. It is what gets us from one clean-up to one repair. Each of us have our own story to tell and we are sharing them with each other. We take time out to spend time with each other and relax as we return to our daily life.
I am home, back to my day job and in the midst of work being done to our home. I am grateful. People wonder why we stay when this could happen again. We stay because the ocean and beach speak to our soul and this is our community.
Our community is as much a bond as the beach and ocean we live on. I am grateful to live in Paradise as we call it. Despite the storm it is still Paradise to us because we are all here together picking up the pieces together.