Front of our house when the tornado hit.

My office when the tornado hit.

Women and Adversity:

Living through a natural disaster

I hear the swishing of the clear plastic tarp that covers the inside space where a kitchen window should be. A plywood board covers the outside space. The titanic destruction is evident looking out from one of the mud-encrusted windows that’s not boarded up.

The EF, Enhanced Fujita, tornado that swept through Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. registered a 3 wind speed. That means the wind reached from 136-165 miles per hour and is considered “severe.” The National Weather Service said the winds were clocked at 165 mph around 11:30 p.m. the night of Feb. 15.
The primary destructions occurred at Ocean Ridge Plantation where I live. Towering pine trees no longer sway in my backyard or in my neighbors’ backyards. Instead the yard is filled with shattered glass. Shrubs are uprooted. Flower pots are overturned and broken. Most of the deck railing is gone. I found parts of it across the street and two houses down from where we live.
We see nearly all of the seventh green of the golf course and the homes across the fairway. Cobalt blue tarps are tacked on our neighbors’ roofs, and plywood covers their broken windows as well.

Mother Nature exhibits extremes. The beauty of the natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and Denali National Park are breathtaking, but in the opposite direction is the havoc hurricanes, tornados, floods and fires bring. People have no control over natural disasters, but we can survive and become stronger for them. Steve and I didn’t suffer any physical harm, and we are lucky that we are living in our home despite the boarded-up windows, plywood floors where carpets were removed and no doors on rooms where they were ripped from their hinges.

We realize that we have more to do in life unlike the three people who died when the tornado hit. We will repair and redecorate. We’ll find our way. We’re fine.

Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published three ebooks in 2020: Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women; Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers; and Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. These books are meant to be study guides for all students from grade school through college to help in choosing topics for assignments and to learn more about these noteworthy women. Go to, and to learn more.

  1. Meghan Mathews says:

    I wish we could wave a magic wand to fix it!

  2. Regina Lynn says:

    I wanted to cry when I read this post.

    Anyone who’s never been through something like this has no idea how harrowing it can be. not long after the storm and the news reports, the rest of us return to our normal lives.

    Reading this reminded me that you and your neighbors are still experiencing the effects of this devastating loss.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thanks, Carol.
    The only improvement we have is a new mailbox. Shingles are in the driveway, but there’s no activity to install them.

  4. Carol Mathews says:

    JoAnne, Enjoyed the article, but I wish it hadn’t been about your home. Hope things are progressing on returning your home to normal. Take Care and as you say, stay strong.

  5. Judith Jadron says:

    This heartbreaking, moving account of that night of terror gives us a sense of what you and your neighbors endured, while realizing just how lucky you and Steve are to have survived untouched physically, and have the good fortune to remain in your home, despite inconveniences.
    Such an event forces us to focus on the good we can find!

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