My name is Ebony Stevens and my family has lived Hurricane Florence first-hand. In fact, we are still dealing with the aftermath. I consider us lucky. Although material things can be replaced, more than 40 people have lost their lives since Florence made landfall on September 14.
In seven days, Florence dropped 18 trillion gallons of rain in the Carolinas. Many communities lost power, and some still face power outages today. Towns across North Carolina are still flooded. Roads continue to flood, forcing towns like Ivanhoe to be only reachable by boat.
I feel blessed that my parents found shelter and their home didn't flood too badly. My grandma, who needs an oxygen tank, was able to evacuate to Clinton, NC. It would have been very hard to see her airlifted with other people with medical conditions in towns like Ivanhoe. Right now, I'm still communicating with them by phone.
In my life, I’m blessed to have two families. My second family is my union family. We work together in the small town of Garland, at Brooks Brothers, sewing high-quality shirts and blouses for our customers.
The area registered 35.93 inches of rain in just three days. And nobody has been able to go to work. So, our union family has sprung into action. We are pulling the community together, making sure no one is isolated and that everyone is fed. Union members are cooking hot meals and delivering them to senior citizens who cannot leave their homes. As soon as someone is back on their feet, we start to help others.
For us, the storm is far from over. We still have towns like Ivanhoe, blocked off from civilization. And the water left by Florence is still wreaking havoc in our homes, roads and electric grid. But I'm hopeful.
I know we will stay afloat because everyone is pulling together with coworkers and neighbors. In a state where the powerful often try to divide us, we are coming together across racial and cultural differences to keep our communities safe. When the water recedes, we will rebuild our communities together, making them stronger. And I know that our SEIU extended family has our back.