Sunday, September 7, 2008

Our first hurricane - almost

As Hanna drifted around in the Caribbean we started to get nervous that this would be our first hurricane since moving to South Carolina. The models were showing a real possibility that it would end up making landfall at Charleston late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

As a family we have fairly good disaster preparedness habits; food, water and other critical supplies on hand, etc. Checking in with our more experienced neighbors we were feeling comfortable but not too comfortable. Being nearly 20 miles in from the coast helped.

Thursday one of my co-workers took the day off to board up his parents beach house on Folly Beach. There was a liberal leave policy implemented so people could make any necessary arrangements for the storm.

Friday morning as I drove to work the clouds were starting to move in and when I drove through the front gate, the hurricane awareness level had changed from 5 to 3, indicating that the area was under a hurricane warning. At about 11 the word was put out that we were shutting down and were expected to be gone before noon; I made it out the gate at about 11:58.

Since we weren't evacuating I spend a few hours reorganizing the garage to get two cars into it. It was tight but we did it. It was starting to rain lightly and now the sky was getting darker. We decided to make a quick run up the road to WalMart for some last minute supplies - after we got on the road (which happened to be a hurricane evacuation route) we discovered that many people had decided not to stay put. The 3 mile drive took about 30 minutes!

The drive home was nearly traffic free and we started watching the news and checking the weather service web site.

As the evening wore on the rain started to come down in buckets and the wind started to pick up a little. The neighborhood kids were out playing in the deluge it looked like fun but I couldn't bring myself to join them. Our neighbors braved the rain and came over for dinner, as the meal came to an end the weather service confirmed that Hanna was going to pass us by.

Saturday morning was a clear sunny day and the only sign that remained of the near miss were all the puddles and full drainage ponds throughout the neighborhood. In retrospect I'm still contemplating a generator just in case we aren't so blessed next time. Ike is making its way across the Atlantic and we're watching it closely.