Hallie F

In August of 2011, Hurricane Irene attacked a great deal of the east coast. After coming off of the Bahamas, the storm began heading towards the coast, and was predicted to make landfall at the Outer Banks, in North Carolina. Living in the area, my family – minus my father, who worked to help with electricity damages from the storm – decided to evacuate the area, and head north to stay with family for safety precautions.

Although Hurricane Irene was only categorized as a level one hurricane, the predicted wind speed still exceeded seventy miles-per-hour. The storm hit our area on August twenty-seventh, deeming it the first storm to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Ike, in 2008. Due to our evacuation, our family didn’t submit to any of the storm’s elements; until we arrived home. My father, who was working at the time, informed my mother and I of the widespread power outages in the area, and the massive flooding of our home.

Our journey home was significantly difficult – more so than any of my family expected. Many of the roads were blocked by trees, and almost every gas station and food stop we came across was closed, due to the power outages. We went through cycles of traveling short distances, and waiting in hours of traffic, due to it being jammed on many parts of the highway. The trip home took much longer than the trip going north for evacuation.

When we arrived in our neighborhood, it was evident the storm caused a great deal of damage; power lines were down, trees were spread across the roads, and our neighbor’s boating dock had disappeared. Upon arriving to our own home, the damage appeared just as horrendous, as there was a blue tarp covering our front door; on one side of the house, the siding was buckling into the ground, and on the other side, the siding itself had been torn off completely. Even parts of the roof were ripped off, causing our house to look as if it were abandoned, and haunted.

The inside of the house was just as destroyed as the outside; many of our ceilings were beginning to cave in, due to the wood being soaked and ruined from all the flooding. Due to the power outages in our neighborhood, our refrigerator filled our home with the putrid scent of rotten food. As we made our way through each room, more and more issues with the house were discovered. In the foyer, by our front door, the floor had flooded, causing the wood to get ruined on both the chairs in our dining room and the majority of the floors to be ruined. Under each of our windows, the floors were buckling due to the water, and as we looked up, we even began noticing holes in the ceiling covered with tarps.

When I entered my own room, it was a mess; my things were thrown all over the floor, and there was a hole in the ceiling of my closet as well. A huge portion of my floor was ruined, and in the corner that needed to be replaced, there was a bucket catching the leaks that fell from our broken roof. After she called my father, my mother was explaining how we needed more tarps, and a dehumidifier to repair what we could, and prevent any further damage; weather forecasters were only anticipating more rain, and we still didn’t have power, but we were attempting to manage what we had. That night, we all had to sleep in our living room, as it was seemingly the only room to be unaffected by the storm; and the musty scents and leaky sounds didn’t help us any when it came to sleeping.

The next day, my parents called our insurance company, and they explained how we needed to dispose of any and all food we had, and to create lists of the things that needed to be replaced. Within a day, an adjustor came to inspect our damage, and take photos of our house; he told us about what was covered under our policy, minus the deductible. Shortly after this visit, my father called a construction company to give us an estimate on our houses’ damage. After the company reviewed all our damages, and gave us a proposal, we sent it to the insurance company to see how much of the repairs would be covered. To our surprise, our insurance sent a check over to the construction workers, and the reparation of began soon after.

I was worried, as to how much help our family would receive from all the damage, as we had a new baby in the family, and the house seemed completely unfixable. Thankfully, our insurance company helped us a great deal with replacing many of our belongings, as well as covering a lot in repair costs. Many months passed, but the construction company repaired our house entirely, and it looked even better than it had before.

Despite the hardships we experienced through hurricane Irene, the storm taught me a valuable lesson; that it’s very important to hold an insurance policy place, especially for when I purchase my own home. However, without our insurance, my family would have never been able to afford to fix all the damage done to our home, especially with a brand new baby in our household. Now, five years later, our house is still standing tall and strong, and I think it’s obvious that we have our insurance company to thank; for if they had not helped us, it is unimaginable as to where our family would be, and what financial state we would be in.