VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It’s a waiting game for those who may — or may not — be in the path of Hurricane Florence’s reach.
For Kathryn Dye, a Rivesville native now living in Virginia Beach, Virginia, it’s also about preparedness.
“Just making sure we have enough water in case the water gets infected by the storm, just making sure we have enough flashlights, batteries, food, canned goods in case the electricity goes out, making sure that everything is off of our deck so that nothing blows over or crashes into the windows,” Dye said.
Dye, a graduate of Fairmont Senior High School and West Virginia University, moved to Virginia Beach three years ago to be closer to her boyfriend and now husband Alex. She said they haven’t experienced a feeling quite like the pre-Florence hype since moving.
“They’re basically telling us just to be prepared for the worst, because we’re not really sure what’s going on with this storm,” Dye said. “It did shift a little bit, so we’re basically just going to get a ton of rain as of now. But we’re not sure yet what’s going on.”
Also the granddaughter of former Rivesville mayor Richard D. Valentine Sr., Dye said prepping for a hurricane isn’t quite as simple as prepping for a West Virginia snow storm.
“Kind of stressful to go through all of this and not knowing are we going to be evacuated? Okay. What do we need to do? What do we need to prepare for?” she said. “Coming from West Virginia, the worst thing we ever got was snow storms, but everybody (back home) knows how to prepare for that. I never really thought they were as bad as this.”
That stress, she said, is shared by some of her friends, neighbors, and colleagues — at least among those less seasoned in hurricane preparedness.
“Kind of like a 50-50, I think, around here,” Dye said. “Normally, we get a lot of rain most of the time. The last three years I’ve been here, we’ve had tropical storms or rain, which is hard and definitely a difficult time and situation. But, I think we’ve been kind of lucky over the last couple of years not getting the worst of everything.”
She and her husband live in the state-designated Zone B. While residents in Zone A, which includes portion of southern Virginia Beach, have been told to evacuate to higher ground, she said those in Zone B still haven’t been given the go-ahead order on evacuation.
If they do get the order, Kathryn said she and Alex will head to higher grounds — fortunate to live reasonably close to Alex’s parents who live a bit further inland and at a higher elevation to boot.
In the meantime, they’re just going to have to wait.
“Do your best,” Dye said. “Just do what you can do and just, basically, we’re just sitting and waiting to see what happens.”
On his way back from work, Stephen Reed realized he was next to evacuate.
Some southern movement from Hurricane Florence, now downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane but increasing in overall size, has prompted the Preston County native’s evacuation from Summerville, a suburb of Charleston, South Carolina.
“Now we know, at least according to the latest tracking cones, it is coming more down to the south of Myrtle Beach,” Reed said. “Once it lands, that means we are going to get a lot of it. We are now — my wife, my two-year-old, and I — we are going to go down to Savannah, Georgia for the next few days.”
Reed, originally from Kingwood and former employee of West Virginia Radio Corporation, now is the Director of Development for the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. He had been on his way home from work when he saw the traffic on I-95 South.
“I’ve had to totally reorient my week and figure out where I’m going to say,” he said. “I have a cousin, thankfully, in Savannah who is going to take us in. I’m looking right now, as I’m driving, at a complete parking lot on I-95. We’ve got to get down to Savannah before it gets to the point where we just can’t even get there.”
He described some parts of I-95 as a ‘parking lot,’ but said that’s to be expected under the circumstances.
“It is clear that anybody who wants to get out is heading southward now,” Reed said.
Florence will be Reed’s second hurricane since moving to South Carolina — meaning he has some idea of what to expect.
“The kids were paddling down the streets in boats the next day,” he said. “So, it really can get into the neighborhood even if you are 20 miles from the oceans.”
Upon return, Reed just hopes all his preparation work for the pending storm pays dividends.
“We just hope that we have no shingles off of our roof and that everything is intact.”
More than 10 million Americans are under a storm watch as Florence moves closer.