Former disaster response expert flees Hurricane Florence

Early storm surges damage a home in Topsail Beach ahead of Hurricane Florence's arrival in the Carolina's Thursday. (LSM-Brandon Clement)

As massive Hurricane Florence bore down on Chuck Lambert’s Myrtle Beach home, he was taking refuge in sun soaked Huntington, W.Va. Thursday.

“I live right across from the beach,” Lambert said. “Emergency services came and said it’s a mandatory evacuation. We can’t make you leave, but we strongly suggest you leave this spot.”

Lambert joined the long line of evacuees, not because he was scared, he said, but because he knew the cost of staying first-hand.

He worked for the Army Corps of Engineers for 39 years.

“Having seen the aftermath of a lot of Hurricanes, it’s just not worth staying,” Lambert said.

He spent a decade in disaster response and responded to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina three days after it hit.

“A year and a half later I was still working in Katrina,” he said.

Lambert said you can’t compare hurricanes, they’re all their own beast, but Florence’s slow march was the main reason he left.

With sustained winds and rain, he feared it would be days before emergency crews could respond to much of anything.

“I would like to be able to say I’m glad I left, as opposed to not being able to say I should have left,” Lambert said.

He didn’t know when he’s going to get to go home and see what’s left and check on the people who stayed behind to weather the storm.

“Wish them luck, and I’ll see them in a couple of weeks,” he said.

Lambert did believe it would be weeks before officials gave him the green light to come home.

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