The biggest storm to come up the coast since 2007 is on its way into town, so I figured I’d write about it.
Hurricane Matthew has it’s own wikipedia page already and it’s a lot more accurate and detailed than I’ll be able to get, so if you want to know about the specifics of the storm, I’d recommend that you go read that article.
What I can tell you is about how it’s effecting things around here.
Yesterday morning, Tuesday, we were mostly not very concerned. It sounded like Haiti had taken a beating and it was surprising how little the storm slowed. And Cuba was looking like it was getting hit hard, too. But mostly we figured that overnight it would either slow down or, more likely, take a sharp right and head out into the Atlantic.
By that afternoon, though, it wasn’t turning or slowing down any, and Gulfstream decided to reschedule the Family Day scheduled for Saturday. And then the governor of South Carolina started putting into motion the mandatory evacuation of Beaufort county and others, which includes Bluffton and Hilton Head Island, starting Wednesday afternoon. I heard about it at work as some of my coworkers started telling the bosses that they had to leave and they wouldn’t be back until the governor said they could get back into their homes. They had to go home, make the house ready for the storm, and then head out of town to wherever they’d be spending the next couple days.
We had chiropractor appointments in Bluffton that evening, so we went up for our adjustments and looked as the ramp to the interstate was already getting backed up and the gas stations already had lines queuing down the street. Our chiropractor’s wife stopped by the office on her way out of town with their kid, on her way up to her family’s house in North Carolina. He was spending the night to get the house in order, but she was heading up early to beat the traffic.
At the grocery store next door, some people were shopping like maniacs, taking carts full of bottles of water and bread and, of all things, milk. Like, most of the milk was gone. What are you going to do with milk on the drive out of town?
Back home in Chatham County, our city of Pooler was mostly still unconcerned. Savannah sits in the “armpit” here and storms tend to come up Florida and then skip out into the ocean and make landfall again above us near Charleston. And Pooler is further inland from Savannah, on the other side of I-95, so there’s a number of us who were not very worried about this. Even so, Justin and I went out to the Scottish pub for dinner and every time the weather report came on about the storm, the whole place would get quiet. And then the Gulfstream Emergency notification network sent out a message saying that all the Chatham area schools were going to be closed for the rest of the week, and half the cell phones in the pub answered that message.
Justin’s school, Armstrong, was not cancelled for the morning, and neither was work for me. So we both got up this morning and went into town. Some people were absent from the office, taking care of their kids. But not as many as I expected. And Justin said most of his classmates were complaining about the fact that they didn’t get the day off like most of the other schools in the area. Armstrong did cancel all the classes after 11:00 this morning and for the rest of the week. (Justin was glad that they waited until after his exam was done for the day so he didn’t have to keep thinking about that all weekend.) At about that same time, they cancelled work for Friday for me.
I stayed at work over lunch and had meetings for the afternoon starting at 1:00. Half an hour into my meeting, a coworker stuck his head into the conference room and announced that they’d just cancelled work for Thursday. We could hear the hum of conversation outside the conference room ramp up to a quiet roar through the door. We pulled up Google maps to check how traffic was looking and I-16 from Savannah up toward Atlanta was already backed up for miles. The roads from Hilton Head and Charleston, which were supposed to get converted to all going one direction starting at 3:00 this afternoon, were looking pretty clear, up until the interstate ramps when things were getting backed up.
It’s been cloudy all day — even through the eye of this hurricane hasn’t even made landfall yet on the States, because this storm is HUGE. Seriously, it’s ENORMOUS. And the body of it is moving slowly, even if the winds within it are moving crazy fast. We don’t expect to feel any effects from it until late tomorrow, maybe not even until Friday. Saturday should be lots of rain, and then Sunday should be back to clouds again.
It’s been a mixed bag of how people are handling the pending storm. There’s the people who have been ordered to leave, obviously. And then there’s the people in town here who have the option to leave or to stay. There have been a lot of people stocking up on water and batteries and gas. Lots of people are heading inland, booking hotels as far north as Atlanta, or heading to stay with friends or family elsewhere.
We’re going to stay. We’re on the third floor of our building, so we’re not worried about flooding. The garage might get wet, but we’ll double-check it tomorrow and make sure it’s all safe to get wet. The worst that we’re expecting is if the wind gets strong, we might need to worry about the windows breaking — but we don’t believe to be likely. The power might go out, but if it does, we’ll eat all the ice cream and cook dinner over the propane stove we have for camping, and snuggle up reading books for the weekend. I’m okay with that plan. I have some work that I brought home to try to get done over the “long weekend,” but for the most part, we’re just going to take a quiet weekend, I hope.
Talking with my coworkers, I realized that even if Justin and I are not overly concerned and we’re going to “ride it out” at home, I would never try to convince anyone who was considering leaving that they should stay. Because we just don’t know how this storm is going to be until it actually arrives. If someone feels like they ought to leave and I convince them to stay and then the storm is worse than expected, or something horrible happens even if the storm isn’t that bad, then I would never forgive myself. I’d rather people evacuated and have nothing happen other than a bored weekend watching TV in a hotel somewhere inland rather than have them stay in town and have to suddenly deal with the floodwaters rising through their living room when they have nowhere to go or the wind taking the roof off their house above their heads.
And that brings us up to current! We’ve got no plans to go anywhere for the next couple days, lots of reading, lots of games, lots of Netflix, a bit of work (homework or work brought home), and not a lot of worries. Tomorrow we’ll be double-checking that we’re ready in case the storm starts to look like it’s worse than it looks right now. Friday and Saturday we’ll watch the rain. If it does start to sound like it’s not looking good, we’ll make sure to let everybody know. But so far, we’re just expecting to to get rainy and windy, and that’s about it.