On September 13, 2018, rain began to fall in North Carolina. It would not stop until several days later and would dump trillions of gallons of water on the Carolinas and southeast United States.
Hurricane Florence officially made landfall on September 14 in North Carolina and would later be blamed for fifty-three deaths altogether, with thirty-nine of those occurring in hard-hit North Carolina. More than 1 million people evacuated in the wake of this storm, even though quite a few stayed behind to attempt to ride it out.
Although Florence made landfall only as a Category 1 hurricane, it still triggered massive devastation by prompting rivers in the Carolina region to overflow and flood countless communities. In Wilmington, NC alone, officials estimate that there was at least two hundred and twenty million dollars worth of damage in property. Florence also knocked out power in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. Workers spent many days restoring it.
Even after the hurricane itself dissipated, the flooding did not go away. Waist-high water and treacherous flash-flooding tampered the ability of rescuers to reach the affected areas. In regards to the residents who did not flee or try to evacuate, most of them were trapped in their houses for numerous days until rescuers were finally able to come and help.
About one month later, on October 10, another hurricane made landfall in eastern United States. Hurricane Michael directly hit the Florida Panhandle first before making its way up through Georgia into the already devastated North Carolina. This time, the hurricane was a monster Category 4 storm with winds up to 155 miles per hour, and it became the second major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.
Michael was the third most intense hurricane formed in the Atlantic Ocean to impact the United States in terms of landfall pressure and the sixth-strongest tropical cyclone to impact the United States in terms of wind speed. This storm utterly wrecked the Florida Panhandle, and buildings in places like Mexico Beach and Panama City were destroyed or swept away by high wind gusts and storm surge.
In Georgia, Hurricane Michael also caused extensive wind damage to buildings and knocked out power. Georgian agriculture received the hardest hit, with around 2.7 billions dollars worth in damages. More than 2 million chickens died during the storm, and crops everywhere were demolished. As of now, there are fifty storm-related deaths in total, with thirty-five of them happening in the U.S. alone. Officials cannot confirm a final death toll, however, as that number is still rising and hundreds of people are still missing.
With these two crippling storms, people in the devastated communities are just starting to come back and rebuild, and the 2018 Hurricane Season is certainly one that many will remember for a long time.
Note: A tropical storm and a hurricane are two different things. According to Accuweather.com, a tropical storm “occurs when cyclonic circulation becomes more organized and [has] maximum sustained winds gust consistently at or above 39 mph, and no higher than 73 mph.” A tropical storm then becomes a hurricane when “maximum sustained winds increase to between 74 mph and 95 mph.”