The last few days have been quite crazy. On Tuesday, Governor Haley declared that there would be an evacuation of the Charleston area starting Wednesday at 3pm. At this time hurricane Matthew was scheduled to hit or come close to the SC coast on Friday or Saturday. I felt a little panicked when the evacuation was declared. I needed to get our house ready, our most precious belongings packed and I did not want to get stuck on the interstate with 3 kids and a dog for hours and hours. We closed The Backpacker starting Wednesday so that our employees would be able to prep, pack and evacuate.
The last time Charleston was evacuated for hurricane Floyd in 1999, there were horror stories of people spending 20+ hours on the interstate trying to get to Columbia, 105 miles away. This fiasco led to the development of an intense and well thought out evacuation plan. The incoming lanes of the highway would be reversed so that 4-6 lanes would be headed out of town. The evacuation order would come early so that there would be plenty of time to leave. This would also allow plenty of time to get schools prepped for shelters, buses down to help people evacuate and all emergency personnel in place. It really is a good plan. Ultimately, the safety of people should always come first. We had so much time to get ready that I would probably have done things a little differently. (Like not closed The Backpacker so early though that did allow plenty of time to get ready and probably made the whole thing less stressful.) The last two days (Wednesday and Thursday) were really beautiful, cool and crisp.
We spent these days getting our house ready, helping others get ready, watching the weather channel and debating about whether or not to leave. The forecast for our area has stayed about the same. We are expecting 40-60 mph sustained winds with upwards of 80 mph gusts. There will be about a foot+ of rainfall in a 24 hour period. The storm surge has fluctuated from 2-10 feet over the last few days.
We are very close to the Charleston Harbor. Many of our neighbors are staying. Most have boarded up windows and doors, some have sandbags. Everyone has a generator, food, batteries and ice. We debated up until the last minute and finally decided to leave this morning. We got out of town about 8am and are now in Augusta.
Here are some pictures of our prep
Our dining room turned into random storage since I am still waiting on my dining table.
We moved all our plants to the porch.
Luke moved the boat and my car to the middle of the yard where they are least likely to get hit by falling limbs/trees. He actually anchored it to the yard, which is kinda funny to me. If the surge comes up this high, we are in serious trouble.
We packed the garage to full capacity! Including neighborhood golf-cart storage!
Luke considered staying behind but it seems like these are the most important times to stick together. He could have stayed to take care of the house but really, who cares about the house? As he said, “I love this house. But I don’t care about anything in the world as long as you four are with me.” And while I don’t think that this storm is going to live up to the hype, I completely agree.
I read Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers a few years ago. It’s one man’s account of staying behind for hurricane Katrina in 2005 in New Orleans. It is an unbelievable story and presents a good case for evacuating together. I highly recommend it.
Anyway, it has been a stressful few days. I am glad to be sitting on the couch in Augusta. The boys are playing hot wheels with Papa and Elle is napping with her Daddy. I hope that the trip back into Charleston will be as smooth as the trip here. I think they should reverse the lanes again headed back into town for at least a day.
In the meantime, I hope all our friends who stayed behind will be safe and that the storm takes a sharp right any minute now.
A few pics from the last couple days
Neighborhood skate session.
Bringing the furniture in made for a very exciting breakfast . . . they were all thrilled to get to sit together at the little table.