As I write this, Hurricane Irene is skirting the Carolina's. The TV news is reviewing hurricanes that have caused damage in the US and is evoking memories of past hurricanes.
We lived in coastal SC for 34 years and had our share of hurricanes. We were lucky. We had only one direct hit. That was Hurricane David, which was barely a category 1 when it came on shore. As the hurricane approached, several of my friends who lived on an island evacuated to our house. We were up all night greeting new visitors, finding places for folks to lay their heads, but never actually making it to bed ourselves. As the sky began to lighten we could see swirling masses of grey clouds. The wind was picking up. You could feel the moisture on the breeze, but the rain had not yet begun to fall. We brewed a strong pot of coffee and listened to the news, trying to determine where to go next. As we debated, a series of small water spouts, spawned by the wind over the river, spun the tops off of several of our tall pine trees. Within fifteen minutes my hubby and I were alone, staring at each other. Our guests decided it was time to leave! We talked to some neighbors and evacuated with them to a home on a high bluff. I was a wreck. I was sure that the roof would blow off the house any moment. After three or four strong drinks I relaxed a bit, and actually enjoyed going outside as the eye of the storm passed over the house. We all marveled at the sunny calm that existed within a cylinder of nasty, grey clouds. We were back in our own bed before midnight. We had a few downed limbs and lots of twigs and pinecones on the ground, but no other damage.
Over the years we had quite a few near misses. Storms would often head our way, and then turn toward the north, avoiding our area. On several occasions school was cancelled and we were advised to prepare for evacuation, all for nought. Then, along came Hurricane Hugo. As the storm developed we realized how large and strong it was becoming. We made reservations at a hotel about 150 miles inland, packed both cars with precious belongings; children, pets, food and clothing. As we checked in at the hotel a prominent sign announced, "No Pets". When I asked about it, the clerk merely shrugged. As we went to our room we joined a parade of folks with dogs, cats, gerbils and goldfish! The hotel was more than willing to look the other way. We finally fell asleep around midnight when we saw that the hurricane had taken a slight turn to the north and would skirt our home. Friends living in the Charleston area of SC weren't quite so lucky. Hugo was a powerful storm and brought flooding and damaging high winds to vast areas of the Carolinas.
The last hurricane we evacuated for was Hurricane Floyd. This was a monster storm, as far as it's size, covering an area almost the size of South Carolina. We boarded up our windows, packed the car and prepared to evacuate. Evacuation did not go smoothly. There were just too many people trying to get out of Dodge! This particular hurricane first looked like it was going to hit southern Florida. Folks in that area evacuated to the north. Then, the storm took a turn to the north. More evacuees joined those already on the road. The storm took another turn, and Georgians got in line with those from Florida to get out of the way of the storm. Then it was South Carolina's turn. People trying to leave Charleston were stuck in traffic. A trip of 80 miles was taking up to 6 hours. It was a mess. We finally left our home at around 4 AM. We travelled back roads and didn't have a problem until we had to connect with the Interstate and try to merge in with all of the traffic from other coastal communities. We were lucky once again. The storm turned and our area was spared.
Hearing of Hurricane Irene brings all of this back... and more. I'm seeing a number of posts from my blog friends who may be in the hurricane's path. They have spent the day preparing for the storm picking up items that could blow around the yard, collecting food, flash lights and water.
I hope that the storm turns east and weakens substantially.
Best wishes and prayers to those of you in the hurricane's path. Stay safe, everyone!
Night Time Encounters
1 hour ago