In the fall of 1996 I was living in Wake Forest, NC while in school, and I was working as a stocker and janitor at a gas station in Raleigh. When Hurricane Fran hit the NC coast, it came far inland and the eye passed Raleigh.
I was at work when Fran hit Raleigh and had to drive home through the storm. It was not as bad as it would have been on the coast, but it was not a fun drive. The entire campus and most or all of the town lost power that night. Some houses in the area were damaged. Fortunately, no buildings on campus were significantly damaged, and I do not think anyone I knew was injured.
Trees throughout the area fell. Some trees on campus were broken in half by the storm. I saw one that appeared to be twisted in half. Some trees were not broken but instead fell because the ground was so saturated with rain that the roots could not hold on to anything. That was likely the case with the tree below. Notice how much of the tree came out of the ground.
After that storm I had no power for about four days. I had to finish my school work before I went to work each day because I had no light when I returned home. Some locals in the area were becoming so frustrated with the slow progress of restoring power that they were becoming aggressive toward the work crews. The men were doing the best they could, but they had lines down everywhere. It was a huge mess.
I did not have all of the food I wanted for a few days, but I found enough non-perishable food to sustain me. I did okay. Some other items were hard to find. For example, flashlight batteries were sold out everywhere. The Winn Dixie in Wake Forest received a truck load of bread, but it sold out in about thirty minutes. For a few days I had to empty the outside ice cooler at work and bring the ice inside in case someone tried to steal the ice during off hours. It was a good thing that I did because one morning when the owner opened the station he found that someone had cut the lock off of the outside cooler.
One night some other students and I drove around looking for a place to eat. Almost everything was closed because of the power outage. Eventually we found that a Golden Corral was open (probably the one on Capital Blvd), but when we were about to go inside someone came out and told us that they ran out of food. Yes, the restaurant with seemingly unending buffets ran out of food. I have never seen that before or since, but they were probably the only restaurant in the immediate area that was open. They were guaranteed a large crowd.
After power was restored, crews worked for weeks to clean up the fallen trees. Of course, this storm was nowhere nearly as devastating as Katrina would be in New Orleans several years later, but it was the worst I have experienced. It also showed me how much I depended on electricity. Going without electricity for a few hours is an inconvenience. Going without it for four days is significantly different. Going without power for weeks or more . . ., well fortunately I have never needed to experience that.