‘I knew I wasn’t alone’: North Carolina nurse looks back on Hurricane Florence

‘I knew I wasn’t alone’: North Carolina nurse looks back on Hurricane Florence

(BPT) – One year ago, North Carolina native and licensed practical nurse Shannon Lanier found herself caught in a storm that seemed otherworldly. Hurricane Florence had arrived. And with it came more than two feet of rain in her hometown of Wilmington.

Lanier had listened to all the warnings and knew this had the potential to be a big one. But she’d never evacuated before. Her plan was to wait out the hurricane in her 30-year-old house at the end of a cul-de-sac near the Cape Fear River.

A few hours after Florence made landfall, rising water levels forced Lanier, her roommate and their 140-pound Great Dane to seek shelter up on their home’s second floor. Through Facebook, Lanier discovered that the United Cajun Navy was rescuing people in her neighborhood. She used the flashlight on her phone to signal for help and waded through four feet of water on her home’s first floor to reach the boat.

Volunteers assisted the trio into a boat and began paddling against the current up the street. As they did, the boat capsized, forcing everyone to swim to safety with only one lifejacket available. They were fortunate to make it out of the water before being transported to an evacuation shelter.

‘All we had were the clothes on our backs,’ said Lanier. ‘The shelter was packed and supplies were dwindling. We were so grateful to even be given a few paper towels to use to dry off.’

Lanier has worked for DaVita Sedc Wilmington Dialysis Center – the sole dialysis provider in Wilmington – for 18 years. Her patients with chronic kidney disease require life-sustaining dialysis treatment three times per week for four hours a day. Lanier considers them family.

‘After Florence, my heart hurt because I knew I couldn’t be there for my patients,’ recalled Lanier. ‘I was always the one who would jump in to help find patients and make sure they could receive dialysis somewhere after a storm. But I wasn’t able to do that this time.’

Instead, hundreds of her teammates stepped in to help. They waded through thigh-high waters to guide patients to safety and treatment. DaVita trucked in fuel, stationed generators where power had been lost and set up a dedicated support line to connect Lanier and others to resources. One-time donations were also given to teammates in need who were impacted by Florence. Six months after the hurricane, Lanier finally returned to her home.

‘I wouldn’t have made it through this without DaVita,’ shared Lanier. ‘Churches, shelters, everyone was there for me. When things like this happen, people come together. The power in this story is how everyone came through for me. I knew I wasn’t alone.’

When a disaster strikes, it’s important to have a plan in place. Here are some items to consider when creating a disaster plan:

  1. Make sure all insurance policies are up-to-date.
  2. Know the evacuation routes out of your city. Be sure to note all types of emergency alerts and warnings in advance.
  3. Identify an emergency point of contact. Consolidate emergency phone numbers for doctors and medical centers.
  4. Develop a list of medicines and dosage amounts. If an emergency occurs, you’ll want to have at least three days’ worth of any medications on hand.
  5. Put together a basic home emergency kit with enough water and food for each person for at least three days, paper and plastic ware, a manual can and bottle opener, first aid supplies, a flashlight and a battery-powered radio. Store the kit in a place that’s easily accessible and waterproof.

As hurricane season continues, look for more preparedness tips at ready.gov. Emergency preparedness recommendations for people living with kidney disease are available at www.davita.com/education/ckd-life/emergency-preparedness-for-people-with-kidney-disease.


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