Cathy Robinson-Gill wasn’t sure how long her connection would last.
Power had been returned to her New Bern, North Carolina condo, Sept. 18, days after Hurricane Florence and flood waters devastated the Carolinas, but there were still issues with phone lines.
According to reports in other media, Florence had dropped 40 inches of rain in less than five days, killed 37 people and caused an estimated $17-22 billion in damage.
Originally from Baie Verte, Robinson-Gill has been living in North Carolina for more than 20 years.
Hurricanes aren’t uncommon for her, but she says this one was the worse she’s ever seen.
When word got out about an impending storm, she said preparations started. Their sailboat – a 43-foot Erwin named the Newfie Breeze – was battened down with additional lines.
They had purchased groceries and other storm supplies, prepared ready-to-eat meals and hunkered down on the fifth floor of their condo to await Florence.
“We kind of grouped together and helped one another, so we felt safe, comfortable in our decision to stay,” she told The Central Voice.
Amongst the chaos of a hurricane, Robinson-Gill said they had to face a second natural disaster threat.
The high winds had resulted in tornado warnings.
“We would get the warnings on our cell, and friends of ours had created a tornado shelter room — cement with no windows — so we would take cover in there until the warning was over,” she said.
When storm made landfall in New Bern, its impact was felt immediately.
Water started moving in very quickly, “like rushing rivers, Robinson-Gill recalled, flooding the city, destroying waterfront infrastructure and ripping boats from their moorings at the pier.
“When the boats let go, they travelled back through town five and six blocks, and they’re now sitting in someone’s yard,” she said. “The storm went through at night, so we couldn’t really see the destruction, but the next day, it’s an ‘oh my gosh’ moment.”
Fortunately, their sailboat, while battered and barely clinging to a broken pier, held fast.
“We have several thousand dollars in damages in our vessel, but it’s fixable and you feel very lucky and happy about that,” she said. “But then you find out your neighbour lost their boat, you feel very sad.
“Everyone is feeling the impact of this storm, and it’s been a very emotional experience.”