• Karen Heckman Stork


I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity - John D. Rockefeller

NOTE: This blog is about my “return” in two ways. First, I shall physically return to Wilmington, NC (which I left because of Hurricane Florence), and second, I shall also return to my blog after being absent for three months because of a health issue. (More on that in later blog.)

When he left the Philippines during WWII, General Douglas McArthur said, “I Shall Return.” And I echo his remarks now that I’ve left my new home in Wilmington, NC to escape the wrath of Hurricane Florence.

Natural disasters spawn a spontaneous unity among those affected. It is a universal desire to want to connect with and help others in the same situation. I shake my fist at Florence as I rant against her destruction. Although I have only been a Wilmington resident for six months in a beautiful town home rental community of Myrtle Landing, I feel a real attachment to my new home, my community and my new friends.

To all of those who stayed, my heart aches for your suffering in the heat with no AC, no ice, no gas, often nowhere to go because of downed trees and power lines. I can do little from Nebraska except keep in contact with those in Wilmington by offering encouraging words, an ear to listen and a heart to commiserate.

And to all of those (like me) who left — All we want is to help our neighbors in need! Most of us have divided feelings. We are glad to be safe and away from the disaster. However, we feel guilty because many of us were able to get far enough away to stay with relatives or in a hotel. and we have the comforts of home — air conditioning, food, water and clean clothes. What we can do is GIVE whatever we can to help in whatever way possible.

I am certainly looking forward to returning in two weeks, but unsure of what I might find. I have heard that our town home community survived fairly well, except for no power and refrigerators full of spoiled food. I am most concerned about the survival of our beautiful beaches. Anyone who knows me knows that a major reason for my relocating to NC was to experience life by the beach. I will do whatever I can to help restore our beaches to pre-Florence condition. I am also concerned about the beach homes in Carolina Beach, the "painted ladies" (pastel colored homes) in Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach, as well as homes in other areas that suffered devastating flooding. But physical structures can be repaired or replaced.

After one of life’s unexpected adventures, I try to look for lessons learned that might help me face any future obstacles. And the most important lesson that Florence reminded me of was that “stuff” is only “stuff”. What matters are the people in our lives. So remember to say “thank you” to all those who helped you during this trying time. And tell all your loved ones what they mean to you.

Life is fragile. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow, so today give it all you’ve got.Tim Cook

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