Hurricanes, Uncategorized

Hurricane Matthew Scheduled to Arrive Soon


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Dearest Readers:

October 7, 2016, will be a day for history. Hurricane Matthew is scheduled to hit the southeast coast of South Carolina later today. Looking out my window, I see the winds gusting now. Occasional rains tap my windows periodically, but not enough now to worry. Our family consists of my husband and I, and five loving, caring pups. Sir Shakespeare Hemingway is the oldest, almost 13.5 years old. He is a bit frail now so I am staying by his side. Groucho Hanks the Tank is the smallest mini-schnauzer we have. With his grouchy personality, it would not be advisable to go to a shelter. My third little one is a blonde mix schnauzer named Sandy Dandy Sebastian, aka “Sandy Bear.” He is the sweetest pup we have. My largest is a giant schnauzer named Prince Midnight Shadow, “Shadow Bear.” He jumps high, especially when we are outside; however, today, I’ve had to coax him to go outside. Normally, he will rush to fetch the ball and bring it to me to play. Not today. Shadow is most sensitive. Today he prefers to stay inside. I believe he senses something is about to happen, just like the pelicans on Shem Creek, flying erratically. I believe animals can sense something dangerous.

That makes me curious. How is it the birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife are not around today? Yesterday afternoon, I found a dead squirrel in the back yard. I’m not certain if he got injured attempting to find a safe haven, or if Shadow finally caught a squirrel. He has the tendency to attempt to jump into a tree to catch squirrels. Today, he doesn’t want to go outside. Strange.

Earlier, my husband and I took my car to park for free in one of the garages in downtown Charleston. I asked God to show me a sign if I needed to take my car downtown and in the early hours this morning I had a slight dream about my car and the need to park it downtown. One thing I’ve learned in life when God speaks to you, you take His advice.

Driving in downtown Charleston was weird today. I noticed restaurants boarded up. Windows in some of the historical homes were boarded. The roads were not filled with traffic or pedestrians rushing to school, college or work. I saw one pedestrian, carrying a large brown bag. Harris Teeter Grocery Store was boarded and the last of the employees were leaving. The only stop I needed to make was at red lights. Schools were empty. Banks closed. Like Mount Pleasant, Charleston, SC is a ghost town.

Headed home after parking my car high on one of the higher floors, I said a silent prayer to God, to keep us safe. On the landmark, signature Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, I saw a few joggers and walkers. I would not attempt to walk across the bridge today.

Arthur Ravenel Bridge

This will most likely be my last post until after the storm. I promise all of you who read my blog regularly, I will write after the storm. It could be weeks later, especially if we lose electricity. I have my cell phone charged now, but if I use it much it will lose its power.

We will have a storm surge and the storm will be here for at least 24-36 hours. Yes, there is something charming about Charleston, SC. Tourists hate to leave and storms love to linger. Since I live here, I do not understand why these storms linger here. I just wish the wind would die down. We haven’t seen anything yet. Later today, trees will sway back and forth, like two lovers swaying to their favorite romantic music. Some of these will weaken and pop, landing on houses, and in the roads, taking down power lines. Soon, we will be living in a dark home without electricity. We will eat canned goods and the cake I baked yesterday. I suppose we could describe this type of life as camping – only we will be inside our home. So much for the healthy eating I do with Weight Watchers.

The rain is getting harder now. Yes, the calm before the storm was earlier. According to local meteorologists, the storm rains are expected to hit at 2 p.m. today. Less than one hour. I’ve lived through hurricanes before. I have faith we will survive Hurricane Matthew, just like Hugo and others.

Tonight I will listen to the world outside as an angry monster named Matthew roars with life. If you’ve never heard the sounds of a hurricane, believe me, it isn’t a sound I will forget. The rushing, angry winds. Torrential downpours of rain, so heavy you cannot see your hand in front of your face. The swaying dance of the trees so heavy with rain and weakened from the winds, they pop and crash onto roofs, other trees, roads and anything directly in their way. When the power goes, the entire city could be dark – so dark nothing is visible. I have candles ready and a hurricane lamp nearby. Flashlights are within reach. Yes, soon we will live like barbarians for a few days or weeks. Hurricanes always leave a calling card you will never forget. Destruction will be everywhere.

Today is a gloomy day. I will have more about Hurricane Matthew later. Meanwhile, please pray for this historical, antiquated City of Charleston, SC and for all of us to survive.

More later, so stay tuned!

Hurricanes, Uncategorized

Memories of Hurricane Hugo, Hurricane Floyd, and Soon — Hurricane Matthew


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Dearest Readers:

I remember September 21, 1989 and Hurricane Hugo, a category four hurricane when it SLAMMED into the Charleston Harbor. My husband was activated with the SC National Guard. I chose to volunteer at the culinary college where I worked. caring for  60 students in a historical building that once was a tobacco factory. Thru the cracked, olden bricks, I could see lightning flashing. This building had survived earthquakes and hurricanes previously. I was confident we would be fine. I could hear the sounds of the storm, roaring with life like a freight train, or the horrifying roar of an angry tiger. I remember singing and humming to myself, and praying like I could never pray again. I kept myself quiet to the students, but inside my soul, I was horrified. I saw the water rising from the harbor, up to the second floor where we housed the students. No one wanted to move them. I remember saying, I’ll go. The students do not need to see, or hear, the rising waters. I gathered the 60 students, forming a single line up the stairs we rushed to a vacant warehouse. I remember hugging every student as they settled down. I sang “We Shall Over Come,” to a few of them as we lit candles so we could see to walk around.

Later, most of the students were fast asleep. with exception of one young girl. I found her cuddled like a baby inside a sleeping bag. She held a teddy bear. I stopped to speak to her, and to give her a motherly hug. “We’re going to be fine,” I said. “It’s just a storm. Tomorrow morning we’ll awaken to a brand new day. You go to sleep now. Hug your teddy tightly. We will be fine.”
Moments later, she was asleep. One hour later, as the storm intensified, I was the only one awake. I do not remember how long Hugo destroyed this city, but when the breaking of dawn arrived, I saw a slight light. I slipped out of the area for a moment, to find a window. There, in the early morning I saw a light. Sunshine. I remember saying a prayer while looking at East Bay Street in Charleston. Debris was everywhere, but we had a moment of hope as the skyline broke into morning, a beautiful sunshiny morning with gorgeous blue skies.
I, along with 60 frightened students, survived Hugo. Today, as I look outside, I see a bit of sunshine and a lot of overcast clouds. Wind gusts occasionally. I’ve checked with a few neighbors, and much to my surprise, they decided to ride this storm out too.
Many of us lived in Charleston in 1999 during Hurricane Floyd. During that hurricane, we were told to evacuate. “This is a mandatory evacuation,” the Governor said. Phil and I decided to leave. 1999 was a horrible year for me. I lost my father from esophageal cancer in July. I was grieving and lost. When Phil suggested we pack up to leave, I remember saying to him, “I must pack Dad’s rocking chair.”
Confused, Phil shook his head. “Don’t ask,” I said. “I must have a piece of my father with me.”
I remember loading up our dogs, suitcases, and doggie crates. We had just enough room to pack the rocking chair. Since we were leaving at the time it appeared everyone was leaving Mt. Pleasant, Phil suggested taking Highway 41. We left at noon, driving down Highway 17, headed in all of the congestion to Highway 41. Phil was convinced we’d be safer and move quicker IF we took the back roads.
Driving in separate cars, the dogs with me, we drove down Highway 41, thankful we had walkie-talkies to converse since cell phones were jammed. Moving at a snail’s pace, we remained in the traffic on Highway 41 for nine hours. During the afternoon, the winds gusted. I clicked the walkie-talkie. “Do you think we’ll make it out of here before the storm hits?”
Phil keyed his walkie-talkie. “When we see a hotel, we’re stopping.”
“Good,” I said. “I’m hungry and exhausted…and I’ve got to pee so badly I ache.”
Highway 41 was a parking lot. We moved ever so slowly, inches. Highway 41 did not have the development of other roads, and the only place to relieve mother nature would be the woods.
I glanced at the speedometer, adding the numbers in my head. At nine o’clock we traveled only 57 miles. We saw an old hotel. We stopped, got a room and rushed inside with our dogs. The hotel room smelled. The air conditioner did not work, and the bedspread felt damp. I opened the trunk of my car, removing a blanket. “I’m not sleeping on this wet, smelly bedspread,” I said, fluffing the blanket over the bed.
Although I dozed on that night, I was exhausted the next morning. Phil went outside to check the weather. No wind was blowing and the skies were clear.
“We’re packing up,” he said. “We’re going home.”
I glanced upwards to the skies. “Thank you, God.”
Hurricane Floyd moved off shore on that evening, weakening.  Our nine-hour excursion to get out of Charleston, SC  was a disaster; however, the drive home took us 45 minutes!
Remembering how stressful it was to get out-of-the-way of a hurricane convinced me that when another hurricane threatens Charleston, we will remain safe at home.
I feel confident we will be fine with Hurricane Matthew. Although we are at OPCON 1 now, I am praying Matthew must be tired now. Maybe he’ll give in and turn back into the oceans and disappear. Meanwhile, I am writing. Isn’t it funny how stress appears to help me find the stories I need to share?
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Charleston, Hurricanes, Uncategorized

Living With Hurricanes – Hurricane Matthew


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Dearest Readers:

Today is an early morning day. A day to make certain we are prepared for Hurricane Matthew.

Living in the low country of Charleston, SC, exactly four miles from the beach, I have been in several hurricanes. The first was Hurricane Hugo in 1989. During that strong hurricane, my husband was in the SC National Guard. He reported for duty so I decided since I worked at a culinary college, I would stay and assist the students. Hugo arrived during late night. About midnight. I listened to the winds outside, thankful we were on the fourth floor of a historical building, in an area without windows. While the students slept, I remained awake. No doubt, I will be awake when Matthew arrives.

Yesterday, the Governor of South Carolina, Governor Haley, suggested it was time for all residents affected to make an evacuation plan. Our evacuation plan is an easy one. We are staying. Why? Simple. We have five furry animal friends. I will not leave them home alone like so many people do, and I do not want to fight those roads, just to get out of Charleston. Late yesterday evening, traffic was dreadful. I can only imagine how the traffic will be today.

Looking out my windows, the winds are blowing softly outside.  We are still under a hurricane watch. Dorchester County was upgraded to Opcon 2, ‘in preparation for Hurricane Matthew.’

What is Opcon? Defined, Opcon = operational control. A few days ago, we were Opcon 5. Last night, changed to Opcon 3. I haven’t a clue if Opcon is now a 2 or Opcon 1. The lower the Opcon number, the more dangerous the storm. Governor Haley has a press conference scheduled for 9:00 am today, only moments away.

Some of my friends do not understand why we are staying. “Just get in the car and drive,” they say. If we left, we will travel with five dogs. Yes, we have crates and we could use them, although I’m not comfortable doing that.

Last night, much to my surprise, our son called, inquiring what we would be doing. When I said we will stay here, he said: “Mom. That’s not a good idea.”

It’s nice to know he cares. I suppose I am writing in my blog today, hopeful there will be more posts in future weeks. Hopeful we really will be fine, along with our home. We finally got all of the repairs from last year’s ‘thousand year rains.’ I have a beautiful new micro suede sofa in the living room. I’m happy with how my home looks now. So now, I pray that God will keep His healing hands here on our home. I pray He will protect it, and us.

Reportedly, the roads of Charleston — I-26, and other roads http://www.thestate.com/news/state/article105986547.html  will be reversed beginning at 3:00pm today.

Should be an interesting day to be in Charleston, SC – reportedly the ‘number one city in the world.’ I pray Hurricane Matthew will decrease in power. I pray lives will not be lost, and I pray we will not see the war zones we had after Hurricane Hugo.

While researching Hurricane Matthew, it is predicted Matthew will be along the coast of Charleston, SC as a category 2 hurricane.  https://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/atlantic/2016/Hurricane-Matthew

If it is only a category 2 storm, it will not be as intense as Hurricane Hugo was. Hugo hit in the dark of night, strengthening to a Category Four storm.

According to the website, http://www.wyff4.com/weather/How-does-Matthew-compare-to-other-U-S-hurricanes/41951076

“Many South Carolina residents remember Hugo in September 1989, the most intense hurricane to hit the East Coast north of Florida since 1900.  Hugo strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane before it made landfall about midnight on Sullivan’s  Island, just north of Charleston.

Hugo caused $7 billion in damage in the U.S. mainland, making it the costliest hurricane in the country’s history at the time.”

Hurricane Hugo devastated the low country of Charleston. Trees looked like toothpicks. Boats on the harbor were tossed around like a child’s toy boat. Homes were swept away from their foundations, either landing in the ocean, or left on a road bed. The bridge to Sullivan’s Island dipped into the ocean waters. Residents had to use ferries just to get back on the island. Driving back to my home the morning after Hugo, I passed my road three times before I realized I was home. Trees were lying on the roads. Houses were missing roofs. Entering my home, I found damage to the ceilings and roof of the living room, dining room, den and the game room. My home was still livable. Across the street, the home was almost demolished. Later, they determined a tornado hit that home. It was bulldozed and rebuilt. I pray we will be safe and survive without much damage, and I pray I do not have to fight just to get repairs done. Incidentally, I changed insurance companies in 2016. Let’s just say, that insurance company provided nothing for us. I pray I will not experience those issues again.  Reporters have encouraged people to update their insurance now. Guess what. You can’t! When a hurricane is underway, insurance agents cannot quote policies.

What Do I Expect With Hurricane Matthew?

  • Loss of power
  • Heavy rains and winds
  • Hunkering down in the hallway, closing all the doors nearby where we will cuddle with our precious friends – our animals
  • Eating food I normally do not eat since the power will be out, I’ll have to be creative – using a camp stove.
  • Quality time with my husband

Periodically, I will post something on Facebook, so you, my readers, may check how we are doing on Facebook.  https://www.facebook.com/barbie.perkinscooper?ref=bookmarks

Meanwhile, if you’ve never been in a hurricane, please count your blessings. It is a true statement that the winds of a hurricane do sound like a train. Hurricanes will spin off into tornadoes. The winds will be violent.

Let us all pray Hurricane Matthew will weaken and only be a tropical storm when it hits the coast of Charleston, SC.

May God bless us, everyone!arthur-ravenel-jr-bridge

 

 

 

Charleston, Hurricanes, On My Soapbox!, rain, Uncategorized

When and If Hurricane Matthew Comes to the Lowcountry…


Dearest Readers:
Within 24-36 hours, we, in the low country, will know what our chance of meeting Hurricane Matthew is. Here’s what I predict. As most of you know, Charleston, SC is the ‘number one city in the world.’ No doubt, a Chamber of Commerce statement. Yes, it is a beautiful city. Antiquated!!! And I’m not certain IF the city has decided to get with the program and join the 21-first century!
If the hurricane is predicted to hit our coast, I imagine a ‘mandatory evacuation’ will finally be whispered. Remember — we have ’42 families moving into the low country daily.’ Well…we’ve had growth. Amazing, nightmarish growth…New construction is built almost everywhere – however, only roads leading into the subdivisions are made. Our dignitaries cannot make decisions about building additional roads. Their comments are “No money. And If we built new roads, where would we put them? Good question. Excellent observation…but why can’t they make a decision about I-526, or additional roads? Demolishing trees certainly isn’t hard since they completely destroy most of the trees in every new subdivision now. When I moved to Charleston, I was impressed how trees were saved. Not anymore!
If we use Highway 41 to evacuate — we will be parked right on the road when Matthew arrives. I’ve had that happen before in 1999. During that ‘mandatory evacuation’ we moved 57 miles in nine hours! Can you imagine holding your bladder for nine hours? I saw men walking into the woods of Highway 41. I wasn’t about to do that! And, I doubt if men could walk into the woods now – due to the area now filled with new subdivisions, shopping, and other suburban developments. Incidentally, I should mention when my husband was released from work to evacuate – so was every employee in Charleston. I suppose you’ve never read about these nightmares in infamous Charleston, SC — have you? Yes, a beautiful city – unable to handle the traffic hurricanes create when we are finally told ‘this is a mandatory evacuation.’ Yeah. Right. Charleston, what orbit are you on? Face reality! Mandatory evacuation is not possible!
If we have a ‘mandatory evacuation,’ we will not join that parking lot! We will gather our things. Our friends – the best four-legged kind – and we will stay in the hallway of our home. Reportedly, if it hits the coast of the low country, it will be only a category 2 storm. We’ve been here at home for those before. Remember last October?  We had the ‘hundred-year-storm,’ as the dignitaries called it.
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View of the Charleston Harbor and Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge
In reality, it was a tropical storm/mini-hurricane.’ Not my definition of it, but one of the appraisers when I filed a claim and was told “You are not covered!”
Yes, I cancelled that policy and all the policies I had with that insurance company. Never again…Lesson Learned – the expensive way!
So, I am here to let you know – IF Hurricane Matthew comes to town in the low country, we will remain here in our home. Yes. The power will probably be cut off, just like Hurricane Hugo. I will go to the grocery store to get a few non-perishable items we can eat, along with our precious family friends, and we will be fine.
I’m praying my home will be fine. It took us four months to get our beautiful roof replaced in February, 2016. Interior construction from the damage we had during that storm wasn’t completed until May 28, 2016. On May 31, Phil had reverse shoulder replacement – which created another storm I never want to experience again. A physical, emotional roller coaster ride for both of us.
I am staying tuned in to the Weather Channel, and local weather reports, praying this storm will die down for our world. I’m beginning to hate hurricanes. The lightning. Winds. Rain…RAIN…AND MORE RAIN…create only one thing – a time to appreciate life and be thankful for the little things in life.
Hurricane Matthew we do not want you to be another traveling companion or tourist in the low country. Why don’t you move out to sea and disappear! You are not welcome here!
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Cypress Gardens Still Closed Due to The ‘Hundred Year Storm.’
Hurricanes

Goodbye Irene!


Yesterday, the City of Charleston felt a bit of Hurricane Irene. Today, all is quiet. No rain. Still having gusting winds, but nothing like yesterday. While writing, I watched (and heard) several tree branches falling into my back yard from a neighbor’s pine tree, and a dead oak tree, standing tall in my yard.

“Oh God, please don’t let the oak tree fall,” I prayed, watching it swaying as tree branches popped and fell.

Pleased to say, the tree held. I will hire a tree surgeon to take this tree down. Hopefully, I’ll not have any difficulty getting permission to cut it down. Once, it was beautiful, with lots of leaves and plenty of shade. Now, I still have leaves, although not many. I will miss this tree when it is gone. We’ve been connected since moving to this house in 1977.

During the path of Irene, I heard many people say they would just throw a hurricane party. I laughed. “You’ve never been thru a hurricane, have you?”

Nope, they nodded. “If it hits us, you better hope you don’t throw a party. The people who appear the strongest are the ones who will shriek and freak out during the storm. It isn’t a pretty sight to watch!”

Thinking of my experience during 1989 when I was a volunteer for students during Hugo, I do not wish to ride out the storm again, and I certainly don’t want to fight the congested, non-moving traffic like I did in 1999. My husband and I drove our cars onto a less-traveled road on Highway 41, only to stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic that failed to move, as the winds increased, the band of rain arrived and we thought we would end up sitting on the highway when the storm approached. Fortunately, as we stayed in the traffic, moving only 57 miles in 9.5 hours, we watched the winds decrease. We found a hotel, or perhaps I should say, an interesting motel that was probably opened for business in hopes to get the hurricane traffic and not their ‘normal clientele.’ We were so exhausted we did not care! The next morning, we drove home — in less than 45 minutes!

For this storm, I told my husband I would gather enough snacks and foods for three days early, in the event Irene visited us. I filled the car with gas on Tuesday. Shopped for all that we would need, including paper plates, and I had everything prepared for us to stay. I simply refuse to fight that traffic again. It was such a nightmare in 1999!

For all who are in the path of Hurricane Irene, I wish you well. You are in my prayers and I fully believe all will be well. It may not sound like all is well as the strong winds whistle along the coastline and inward, but Irene is now downgraded to a category one. This too shall pass.

Goodbye, Hurricane Irene. I see the sun breaking thru the clouds as I write this. The wind is blowing briskly, but there is hope. Sunshine is on its way. The awakening of a new day!