WILMINGTON, N.C. - After seven days reporting in Wilmington on Hurricane Florence, I want to share some of my thoughts with viewers from the moment we arrived, to our 7-hour trip back to Charlotte.
When we first arrived in Wilmington we went to Wrightsville Beach.
The ocean was calm, sand was warm and surfers were getting in that last-minute thrill.
But behind the breathtaking beauty of this beach, there was an eerie feeling in the air.
Homes and businesses were boarded up, sandbags lined doorways and the weight of the unknown hung over the entire area.
During our teams live reports we repeated, “evacuate, don’t stay.”
And when you report those things, they start to stick with you as well.
So our team started thinking, how will we take cover, but also give viewers the information they need to stay safe.
We had all the rain gear we could ever need, but that only made us waterproof not invincible.
Friday morning around 1 a.m., the wind started to pick up slightly, but it was still hard to comprehend that Hurricane Florence was headed right toward us.
We did our first few live reports from the field and within a 20-minute time frame things changed pretty quickly.
Our team made it through the worst of it. We lost some gear along the way.
But photographers Jordan Sawyers and Troy Bowlby pieced together the cameras and tripods we had left, then we went out to start telling stories.
We didn’t know it yet, but Wilmington was cut-off from the rest of the country due to flooding.
After days of running around, we too started running out of gas. So like thousands of other people, we got in line hoping to get fuel.
It took four hours, but we had just enough to get us home.
As we left Wilmington and passed the lines of people still waiting to get gas, and searching for shelter and food, a feeling of guilt came over me.
Our reporting from here was over, but the suffering and rebuilding of this community has just started.