Another year, another hurricane season. Those of us that have lived here a while have become well acquainted with the season and everything that comes with the news. For newcomers and those looking for new resources, I’ve put together a hurricane journal of my personal experience, most recently with Hurricane Florence and information you might find useful this year and into the next.
Emily’s Hurricane Florence Journal
Sunday, September 9
It’s the first Carolina Panthers game of the year! We go to a friend’s kick off party, take a walk to the marsh during halftime, and chat about how we’re likely not leaving for the storm they’re warning about, unless it’s a category 4 or higher.
Monday, September 10
Our friends are coming to visit from out of town this week, so we’re preparing for their visit, doing laundry, and working a regular schedule, when all of a sudden, phones start blaring. The governor has called for a mandatory evacuation order beginning tomorrow at noon. Work gets put on hold to start preparing the home for the hurricane; bring everything inside from outside, put the trash bin, recycle bin, and wheelbarrow in the garage. Call contractor about boarding up windows with the hurricane shutters (re: plywood). Put together and send a list of resources (below) to clients. Finally, take a video of the interior of our home and all our belongings, for insurance purposes.
Tuesday, September 11
Hit the road early with my son and dog, before the interstate reversal. The song “How Bizarre” starts playing on the radio and I think, yes indeed. Leave my husband, a 30 year Lowcountry resident, behind to finish up items around the house and coordinate with his mom and grandfather, a Hurricane Katrina survivor, to get them on the road with us to my dad’s house in Asheville, NC. Made sure to leave a key with our new neighbors that moved in last week, since they say they’re sticking around. “Hi, nice to meet you. Here’s a key to my home.” Contractor shows up to put up plywood after we’ve all left, so I luckily have an app on my phone to open the garage door for access to hurricane shutters. Begin to receive texts from friends with concern, as many of them have been through hurricanes themselves.
Wednesday, September 12
Wake up with the entire family safe and sound in Asheville. Eat some pancakes, make some phone calls. Supposed to have home inspection today that has been rescheduled to next Tuesday. Will there be a house to inspect next Tuesday?
Thursday, September 13
Bagels instead of pancakes today. My son and dog are thriving, as I’m starting to get a little cabin fever and feeling the uncertainty of the storm’s challenges. My client calls me from New Jersey that has a home closing on Johns Island next week. “Everything ok?”. I call the builder and he’s prepared to protect the home. Will the closing happen?
Friday, September 14
Finally decide to check in on the news and make some decisions about a return home, as the storm doesn’t look as bad for Charleston as it did originally. So incredibly thankful. If the worst of the storm is coming on Saturday in Charleston and Sunday in Asheville, do I go ahead and drive home today to make it for my final walk through for Monday, so we can close on the home on Tuesday?
Saturday, September 15
Decided to stay a little longer and hedge my bets on leaving late night on Sunday. We previously had plans to visit my hometown the following weekend, so my husband decides to stay in Asheville with our son for the week and work remotely, until I’m able to make it back after work. I continue to check on friends and clients that stayed around, as they report minimal rain and a few branches on the ground. My friends even FaceTime me to drive by our old neighborhood and check on one of our homes.
Sunday, September 16
The time has come. Asheville is getting the rain this evening, so my mother-in-law and her father hit the road back to Charleston to get him settled in his home. Time to message the contractor to remove the hurricane shutters. I wait to put my son to bed in Asheville and brave two out of four hours of nighttime rain as I come down the mountain from North Carolina to South Carolina with my dog in tow. We arrive tired, but happy to be in our home, almost as we left it.
Monday, September 17
Wake up early, unable to sleep and begin to put the house back together and everything back outside. The city feels calm as I drive to the final walk through of the new home closing tomorrow and prepare for another home inspection. You can still see the hurricane shutters on some windows and feel the relief of those you encounter throughout the day that we didn’t get the worst of it- this time.
Tracking the Storm & Other Resources:
SC Emergency App
SC Hurricane Guide
Evacuation Zone/ Plan
Disaster Supply Kit Checklist
Emergency Communication Plan
AirBnB Open Homes
Post Storm Resources
Packing List (a slight parody)
Flood policy declaration page
Insurance info contact
Water in growlers
I think it’s important to remember that those of us that leave with an impending storm and those of us that stay, all have ours reasons. Maybe your grandfather stays in an assisted living home that closes with the mandatory evacuation, so you have to find new housing or your grandfather isn’t able to travel in the car for long periods of time, so you stay behind. Maybe the cost of evacuating is too much of a financial struggle. Think about the cost of gas, lodging, and missed work. Luckily, our state does provide resources in those times of need. Small businesses suffer as our community flees away from town. Luckily, Explore Charleston and Lowcountry Local First worked diligently on social media to share what businesses were open during the storm and shortly after. Any way you look at it, we all have our reasoning and personal experience to build on from storms past and present. I don’t think it’s fair to assume people are being cavalier. Critical thinking is key.
Stay safe, Lowcountry friends!