Surviving Hurricanes


Dearest Readers:

We survived the wrath of a potential Hurricane Irma. I say potential since she dropped down to a tropical storm when she visited Charleston, SC.

We watched The Weather Channel. I must compliment them on their coverage and I am so thankful we survived. We lost power for less than two hours. Amazing. I would like to thank South Carolina Electric & Gas [SCEIMG_5582G] for that!

My sister and her family who live in a rural, beautiful country area miles from Atlanta, Georgia lost their power and did not get it back until 6:30 last night! I sent them a text congratulating them on joining civilization again! There’s nothing like flipping the light switch and seeing a light come on instantly! Of course, there’s nothing more comforting and cooling than air conditioning! And, who likes cold baths? I do. I learned to like them after 14 days without power after Hurricane Hugo.

Originally, we planned to leave Charleston on Monday morning since the hurricane wasn’t anticipated until Tuesday. I booked a hotel reservation for Monday – Wednesday in Georgia. Only miles from the home of my family. Was I ever thankful we cancelled that reservation on Saturday! The silly Irma did more damage there with electricity than she did here. Whoever thought hurricanes would hit the inlands? I did. I remember Hurricane Hugo and how she tore into Columbia, SC and Charlotte, NC. Hurricanes aren’t just for the coastal areas after all!

Today, I was able to return to my Weight Watchers meeting. “I’m checking in,” I said. “But I’m not weighing in today!”

The leader of our meeting, Kathy, simply laughed and shook her head. She probably knew I was only one of the members who would not weigh in today.

Why?

I have no excuse, with exception of a hurricane…fast food – when it was available…junk food… I asked my husband to go to the grocery store once, to get us something to eat. Rule number two of a hurricane [I’ll let you imagine what rule number one is]. Do not send your husband to a grocery store for hurricane foods.

What did he bring home?

Here’s only a brief list:

Blueberry muffins

Bread (we had two loaves sitting on the counter)

Boars Head meats

Cheese

Ice cream

Aren’t we under a hurricane warning? Just what do we do when the power goes out?

“Eat melted ice cream,” I said.

So much for Weight Watchers.

Today, I’ve promised to get myself back on track. Much to my surprise, when I checked e-tools on my iPhone, I discovered I have been super negligent with tracking! Checking back to December, 2016, I discovered I haven’t tracked much at all. I must improve that! Just how can a girl lose weight IF she is negligent?

Today is a new day. The sun is shining beautifully. It is warm, but not too humid. Tomorrow I will work in the yard, picking up the debris of sticks, tree and shrub branches and I shall rake everything into one pile.

Since my dogs LOVE to play with sticks, maybe I can get them to help me collect my debris and place it in my utility cart.

On second thought – maybe not! They love to jump into the piles and chew sticks. I don’t imagine that would be a good idea for their digestive system.

At least tomorrow I’ll get LOTS of exercise tracking with my Fitbit.

Tomorrow is a new day. I’m so thankful we survived!

And now, IF I can find my motivation. Track what I eat, and exercise!

 

 

 

To All Concerned About Hurricane Irma


Dearest Readers:

In a few minutes, I will tuck my animals to bed and I will slip into my bed to rest after a fitful night of tossing and turning last night.

I found it difficult to sleep. Worrying about strangers desperate to get out of Florida and the traffic congestion created due to a hurricane. I have friends in Florida. One friend I’ve known for many years, now in a wheel chair. Another friend from high school. Relatives. Funny, although we haven’t seen one another in too many years, we keep in touch via Facebook. Now, I have no idea where these friends are, but I know in a few days I will hear from at least one of them. Then, I can take a fresh breath of air, thankful all is OK.

I have faith. I believe…and I pray. Daily. And nightly.

If you are reading this curious as to where your friends are, I ask you to pray. Believe. Keep the faith.

Earlier today, I cancelled our hotel reservations for Monday. Since it appears that Hurricane Irma will only kiss the coast of South Carolina with tropical storms, we decided it would be safer for us to remain here in our home. Besides, someone from Florida might need that room.  Our home is brick. It survived Hurricane Hugo, a Category Four hurricane when it arrived on the Charleston Harbor. Our home survived Hurricane Matthew last year. What it didn’t survive was the torrential ‘100 Year Rains,’ in October 2015. Our roof leaked due to wind and hail. Actually, it poured from the damage of two sky lights. When State Farm Insurance declined our claim of wind and hail damage, we chose to shop elsewhere for homeowner’s and wind and hail insurance. Let’s just say, State Farm lost a good customer and I tell all of my friends to shop around.

South Carolina insurance is so antiquated and restricted I suggest all who even think about moving to South Carolina to ‘do your homework. This state is a bit behind the times in many ways.’

But, tonight, I am writing to wish everyone affected with the threat of Hurricane Irma to have faith. Pray. Hug your family tightly while knowing God is there with you.

And when the electricity is gone for a few days or weeks, just remember, the horror of the storm is over. Be thankful. How I remember after Hurricane Hugo how thankful I was. Even though our home was damaged, at that time, our homeowner’s insurance covered almost everything. We were blessed back then. Unfortunately, after Hugo, that insurance company filed for bankruptcy. Now, I’m not so certain about ‘the new regulations pertaining to insurance in South Carolina,’ but when and if the winds and tropical storms of Hurricane Irma arrive, I will cuddle my pups closely to comfort them, and I will hug my husband tightly. I’m thankful and I’m hopeful IF we have damage the insurance company will cover it. One thing I do not wish to ever hear again from any insurance company are the words from the lips of the State Farm adjuster. “You’re not covered!”

How can that be? We’ve spent thousands of dollars, only to hear ‘you’re not covered?’

Let’s just say, I cancelled them!

God is here with us, and with all of you. We must believe and have faith.

And now, I wish all of you a peaceful night of rest, until the morning arrives.

Tomorrow is a new day. Hurricane Irma is not supposed to arrive around here until Monday or so. I haven’t listened to the latest reports. After listening to them all day, I’m a bit burned out. Regardless when she arrives, for this household, it will be a new day. The sun will eventually peak out behind the gray clouds and a new chapter in my life will begin.

And then, I will breathe. I will inhale. Breathe. Exhale. And give thanks. Then, I will whisper, Good riddance, Irma. So glad you are leaving us behind.

Until tomorrow!cropped-cropped-arthur-ravenel-bridge.jpg

 

IS THERE A HURRICANE A-COMING?


DSC_0062Dearest Readers:

Seems I am collecting an abundance of people to call when and IF we are “ordered to evacuate” for Hurricane Irma.

I detest being ordered. I’ve checked with many of my friends. Many of them are staying. At the moment, this household plans to stay too; nevertheless, I am preparing to leave – IF Irma doesn’t weaken.

Personally, I pray Irma realizes she is not welcomed here. Hasn’t the USA had enough challenges, contributions and headaches after Hurricane Harvey?

I’m watching The Weather Channel again. Seems that channel is my new, favorite TV station now. Their corporate office is located in Atlanta, GA. Are they under evacuation orders?

Probably NOT!

Meanwhile, to maintain my sanity after a horrible day yesterday where the two B’s in my name kicked in way too much, I am attempting to INHALE…EXHALE…BREATHE…!

But for now, I still have things to do to prepare my home IF Irma (isn’t that a really old name?) comes to town.

I do not think the powers that be in Charleston, SC will roll out the red carpets for her, and neither shall I! Local schools will be closed tomorrow (Friday) – thru Tuesday.

So, for now – I must get busy. I have files I need to transfer to a thumb drive so I can still have documents I’ve worked on. I’ve vacuumed and that was a challenge yesterday when the stupid handle of my vacuum broke. Imagine bending over to hold the broken handle just so one can vacuum. My back was killing me.

Today is a new day. The sun is shining and humidity is low. Perhaps the ‘calm before the storm.’

Maybe I’ll just go rest my stress-filled body on my bed. Maybe I’ll play with the dogs, or maybe I’ll cover my new vacuum in plastic, in hopes IF Irma comes to town, she will leave this home alone. I still remember the nightmares I had to fight just to get my home repaired after the “100 Year Storms” in October, 2015. Believe me, I canceled my coverage with State Farm after that losing battle!

Who knows what I’ll have to battle this time. I think I need a vacation – to Hawaii, or maybe the moon!

Until you hear from me again, please say prayers that all of us will be AOK.

Inhale…Exhale…BREATHE! This too shall pass!

Hurricane Irma


Dearest Readers:

This will be brief. Today, I’ve spent the day getting ready in the event Irma comes to town. I pray this monster category 5 hurricane will decrease in strength and wind.

The USA does not need another tragedy after Hurricane Harvey.

If you are nearby the Florida Coast, please do what the Governor of Florida suggested on The Weather Channel tonight.

While it is a bit early for us to decide what we will do IF Irma comes to our community, we will take our animals if we leave. We have crates. Yes, they detest them, but this isn’t a normal time.

I’m trying to keep my cool, but after Hurricane Hugo, I suppose I am just a bit cautious and fearful. Of course I admit, I spent way too much time watching the Weather Channel during Hurricane Harvey. Sometimes a bit of knowledge learned can cause anxiety.

I’ve dealt with insurance companies after a storm, especially State Farm after the 100 hundred year rains in South Carolina in October, 2015. It is not a pleasant experience learning that regardless of the Homeowner’s; and the infamous Wind and Hail coverage, we were told “You’re not covered.”

We had flood insurance. Funny thing about flood insurance. You must have rising waters for a flood. Silly me. Our flood inside the house was due to a damaged roof…but no coverage. FEMA said no to. Seems we were still in ‘livable condition.’

We had to get an SBA Disaster Assistance loan to get our home repaired…and now, that it is repaired and quite impressive, we must worry about another hurricane.

Maybe we should live on the moon!

For tonight, I wish and pray for all in Florida to be safe, especially the friends and family members I have in Florida. I pray for us to be safe too and I’m still praying for Houston and the State of Texas.arthur-ravenel-jr-bridge

I suppose I’ll just worry about homeowner’s insurance and wind and hail insurance later. At least, we have flood insurance — whatever that means!

Stay safe, everyone. We have intense fires on the West coast now, and hurricanes on the East coast. What’s next? Another eclipse?

Oh please! Good night all!

 

Hurricane Matthew vs. Hurricane Phil…


Dearest Readers:

It is official. We survived Hurricane Matthew. I must confess, Matthew was nothing like Hurricane Hugo. NOTHING!

Early Friday morning, before the wrath of Matthew, my husband followed me to park my car in one of the downtown garages in Charleston. I was fearful Matthew might blow out windows, or thrust a tree into my car. Matthew was nothing, compared to Hugo.

Like many, I was glued to the TV, fearful this hurricane would do more damage than Hugo. The day after Hurricane Hugo, I came home, managing to drive around my neighborhood — looking for my street. This area of the “old village” was a war zone, or so it seemed. Trees were down. I dodged many. I saw roof shingles on the road. Large pieces of tin. I had no idea where they came from, realizing later that some of the ‘tin roofs’ people have on their homes were torn apart, landing in the roads, or other areas. In one area of the road near my home, a house was in the road – swept from its foundation.

Yesterday, we were filled with cabin fever. Remaining inside of our home off and on since Wednesday, getting our property ready for the storm, we were tired of sitting around. Saturday afternoon, the rains were only slight, light showers — no longer horizontal rains that sting your face, like little needles. My husband wanted to drive around to see the damage. We were shocked!

I am known for never leaving my home without my hair styled and make up on. Not yesterday. I grabbed a baseball cap. Something I never wear, and of course, my signature sunglasses! I looked hideous…like a ‘just camping out Barbie.’

We anticipated a view similar to Hugo. Hardly. On Bellview, we discovered a utility line was down. Roads were not blocked with tree limbs, or large trees. Water was on the roads, but nothing seriously deep. On one street I saw trees downed. None hit the houses. On a friend’s home, she lost a large oak tree. It fell into the next yard, hitting the property owner’s car. I hope they have good insurance, and not the insurance we had last year when the ‘thousand year rains’ came.

After the roar of Hugo, our road was covered with trees, roofs, and one house was blown off of its foundation. When we opened the door to our home, we saw ceilings down. Water damage from the torn, leaking ceilings in the family room, living room and our game room. We walked to the back yard, discovering a neighbor’s tree in our roof. Woody was the neighbor’s name. He and his wife stayed during the storm. When he saw us returning, he rushed to apologize for the tree damage from his yard. I smiled at him. “Woody, it’s OK. We have homeowner’s insurance. Don’t worry about it.”

Woody made certain the tree was removed. He and his wife were retired. They were some of the oldest residents in the old village. Nice, considerate neighbors like Woody are hard to find. We filed claims with our homeowner’s insurance. Three weeks later, the adjustor arrived.

“What can I help you with to make your life a bit better?” He asked. “Do you want to stay in a hotel?”

I thanked him, letting him know our home was livable, even with damaged ceilings and a damaged roof. We could survive. He wrote us a check for a considerable amount. It’s a pity I can’t say the same about State Farm Insurance last year!

In May we completed the repairs. During Hurricane Matthew, I prayed we and our home would survive. So happy we are fine! The only damage is a portion of a wooden fence.

I am happy to report, after we lost Woody as a neighbor, we have nice neighbors again. During Hugo, I worked at a culinary college. The President of the college knew he had to find a way to give the meats and vegetables to others. One morning he announced for all employees to pick up some meats and share them with neighbors. I brought a beef wellington, giving it to the neighbor who was grilling for the neighborhood. Needless to say, the neighborhood was eating gourmet foods.

I expected Hurricane Matthew to be stronger than Hugo. I listened to local media, the governor’s messages, and the Weather Channel, anticipating a nightmare similar, or greater than Hugo. Thank God, it wasn’t. To be honest with you, my readers — the only damage we had was related to my husband, “Hurricane Phil.” After I went to bed, he chose to remain in the den with the dogs. There, in the dark of night — where he truly cannot see his hand in front of his face, Hurricane Phil managed to do a bit of facial damage. He placed puppy papers down, in the event our dogs needed to do something. While placing the papers nearby, he managed to knock over a basket of magazines. He knocked a plant sideways, along with a Tiffany style lamp, managing to chip one portion of the lamp, and he broke a picture frame. He lost his glasses. Yesterday afternoon, I found Hurricane Phil’s glasses on the other side of the room. Don’t ask me! He’s as blind as a bat when in the dark! Yes, my home survived Hurricane Matthew, but the interior was  a bit disturbed thanks to Hurricane Phil!

Driving around downtown this morning, in anticipation of getting my car, I did not see the roads covered with tin roofs, homes in the roads, and boats in the path of downtown Charleston, like the roads were after Hugo.

All I saw was the City of Charleston coming back to life. Several restaurants were opened. Cars were driving around, and people were walking. Just glancing along the city, no one would know less than 24-hours ago, Hurricane Matthew came to town, only to tease the city.

Wish I could say the same for Lumberton, NC. There, the hotels were flooded. People were being rescued by boats. Numerous cars were floating in the water. The Weather Channel interviewed several people who fled from South Carolina, so they could be safe. Funny thing about it was, this morning they awoke to wet sheets and wet floors of the hotel. They left South Carolina, only to have their lives threatened when the storm came inward.

Remembering Hurricane Hugo, it appears that once a hurricane hits Charleston, it chooses to go inward. During Hugo, it kissed and damaged the City of Charlotte, NC. This time, Hurricane Matthew almost drowned the City of Lumberton, NC.

I think hurricanes need to have a GPS system. Perhaps then, they could use the GPS to head out to shore and stay away from ‘inward counties.’

We were advised to move away from the coast, and go inland 100 miles. Lumberton, NC is about ‘188 miles from Charleston, or if the crow flies, only 138 miles.’ But who is counting. These people thought they would be safe in Lumberton. So sad.

What will I do next hurricane? Maybe I’ll stay here safely in Mt. Pleasant, SC or maybe I’ll head to Georgia. I’ll have Hurricane Phil with me, and I’ll make certain he does not walk around in the dark of night! Hurricane Phil can be a bit clumsy when he cannot see. Will we be as fortunate during the next hurricane? Maybe I’ll tie Hurricane Phil down so he can be safe.

 

Angel Oaks

 

DSC_0033.JPGDSC_0127_edited.JPGOnly the hurricane knows!

 

 

 

 

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!

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.’

Hurricane Hugo — The Aftermath of the Storm…September 21, 2014


Dearest Readers:

I have been quiet for a bit. Just a bit perplexed with writing…feeling as if I could not write one word ever again. Alas, I am back — on this day September 21, 2014 — 25 years after Hurricane Hugo strove to destroy the beautiful City of Charleston, SC.

So many people cannot comprehend what it is like to remain in a city during a hurricane. While it is true, I did consider making plans to leave, or even to go to a shelter, I chose to remain here in Charleston. Checking with the shelters I was told I could not bring my animals. At the time, I had two — Muffy, a sweet but hyper little mutt terrier and a small poodle named Buttons. I could not leave my animals and my husband was in the National Guard at the time, activated to work in the downtown areas of Charleston, so I decided to remain so I could check on my animals and keep them safe. Working at a university, I volunteered to assist with students. I supervised over 60 of them during the storm.

Although I have survived tornadoes, I could not understand why the media kept saying to fill your car with gas. Make certain you have cash. Have enough water to drink and enough food to eat for at least three to five days. I laughed. Why would I need my car filled with gas. Why would I need cash and food. After all, it was only a hurricane.

Little did I know!

On September 21, before the storm hit on that evening, I checked on the house, making certain my animals were cared for with water, food and the little necessities I leave for them while I am at work. I closed all of the hall doorways, left food, towels, water and all was well. My home is a brick foundation so I wasn’t concerned with flooding or a disaster. I prayed that all would be fine, and it was. On the evening of Hurricane Hugo, I hunkered down with 60 students in a historical brick building in downtown Charleston. As the rushing, roaring winds increased, the students were horrified, so we moved them from the second floor of the building to another floor where there were no windows. Within an hour, the students fears eased as we sang, told jokes and laughed. Ever so slowly the students stopped talking and laughing. I grabbed a flashlight, walked around the wooden floors, noticing many of the students huddled together — sleeping.

I touched a portion of a brick wall, able to see outside from the cracks of the loose bricks. I could hear the wind whistling…crying…screaming…I said a silent prayer. Moments later, I heard quiet. The eye of the storm. As the calmness eased my fears, I realized this would probably be one of the longest, most frightening nights of my life. How I longed to be inside my home, huddled in a blanket with my animals.

Listening to a portable radio describing the events of the hurricane, I counted the night away. I did not have a cell phone at the time, nor did we have internet capability. The building had emergency lighting, with exception it was not working, so we moved around the floors slowly while keeping our arms outstretched, carefully moving so we did not disturb the students. The room was a large brick warehouse, totally dark. No windows nearby. The only light I saw was when I found a few loose bricks and watched the lightning outside. There was a blanket of darkness everywhere.

Early the next morning as students awoke they asked me if I slept. “No,” I said. “I’ve been here all night.” One student nudged my shoulder. “I didn’t think you slept. Your makeup is still perfect.”

The door to the warehouse opened. Slowly we moved downstairs. The storm was gone. Breakfast was waiting for all of us downstairs, on the second floor. After breakfast many of the students wanted to go outside but I discouraged it. “Live wires are down, along with trees. It isn’t safe for us to leave yet.”

About an hour later my husband arrived, dressed in his National Guard uniform. He rushed to hug me, whispering for me to keep the students inside. “The city looks like a war zone,” he said.

A few hours later, students gone and the university shutting things down, I strolled slowly to my car, careful not to step on downed power lines while being ever so thankful that I had parked it in a garage. I anticipated the car having windows shattered, debris covering it. Much to my surprise, my car was safe with no apparent damage. Driving home, I was lost. The roads were hard to see due to the abundance of hurricane debris. Gone were the familiar street signs and landmarks. Roads were thick with debris, boats, cars, boards, roofs, tin, metal, tree branches and so much debris, it was difficult to determine if I was on the correct side of the road, so I made many detours while my car crawled over branches and the thick debris. I saw an abundance of tin roofs in the road. Yachts. Boats. A tracker trailer, overturned. Driving home to Mt. Pleasant was quite a challenge, and when I turned towards my home, I could not drive down my street. Trees were everywhere. I managed to park my car three blocks from my home. Carefully, I walked, constantly looking for downed power lines, snakes and other creatures.

When I arrived at home, I noticed several homes in my neighborhood were damaged. Tree branches were slammed into the roofs. A couple of homes were missing walls. I walked around the front of my house, opened the door, found my dogs, hugged them and examined my home. All appeared to be ok until I walked towards the back door. The ceiling in the living room was opened with a large tree branch resting on the portion of a missing roof. The ceilings in the back room were wet. Trails of water were on the carpeting. I grabbed the leashes and carried the dogs outside, still cautious of things I might find in the back yard. Several trees were down and my above ground swimming pool was missing — completely. The only part of the swimming pool left was some of the framework. Debris from the pool was tossed around my yard, but my home was safe. A bit injured but I was thankful we had survived.

The dogs and I returned to the house. Cuddling them in my arms, I cried tears of thankfulness. My home was safe. Many people in my neighborhood would return to discover a home so shattered they would need to live elsewhere. Phil and I had been blessed. Our home was damaged, but livable and Muffy and Buttons had survived. A bit shaken, but safe. We were blessed.

I reached to turn the TV on, to get the latest news, realizing we had no power, I laughed. I walked outside again, finding something I did not expect lying in the grass. The Post and Courier had published a newspaper about Hurricane Hugo. Wishing I had a hot cup of coffee, I opened the newspaper. Today was a new, beautiful day in Charleston, SC. Looking like a war zone, I said a silent prayer, hoping no one had died in the storm. Yes, today was a new day. A day to give thanks for the little things in life. Health. Safety. A home a bit tarnished from the storm, but a safe haven for me to rest and be thankful that we had survived.

Perhaps you are curious what I learned from Hurricane Hugo. My response is — to be thankful for the little things in life. If you live in an area where torrential storms happen, please listen to the forecast and take the suggestions shared seriously. I did not fill my car with gas. After all, after the storm, the stores would open and I could get gas. NOT. By the time stores and stations were able to open, the lines were long. Lessons learned.

Have cash. I did not. Fortunately, the university I worked for allowed us to borrow money from them. I borrowed $20.00, paying it back when I was able to get cash. Lessons learned.

Food — non perishable. Since my husband was activated with the National Guard, I did not have much food. By the third day of no power, I cleaned out the fridge, tossing everything in the trash. I managed to find several cans of tuna fish in the pantry, so I made a big batch of tuna fish. I ate dry tuna fish sandwiches for lunch and dinner until it was gone. Funny…I haven’t eaten tuna fish since Hugo!

On the third day, I discovered an old phone in the closet — the type that did not require electricity. I connected it, got a dial tone and phoned my insurance company to file a claim. Meanwhile, I phoned my sister and other family and friends, to let them know we were AOK. On the tenth day of surviving Hugo, our power returned. Three weeks later, the insurance adjuster arrived, apologizing for the delay in responding. I made a fresh pot of coffee, he walked through the house, taking notes and photographs and responded that he could set us up in a hotel while repairs were made. I smiled at him, thanking him for his compassion but I had a bed to sleep in, a home to live in while some of my neighbors were living in campers or moving to small apartments. “We’ve been blessed,” I said.

Surviving in a hurricane taught me appreciation for life. I’m still not certain what I will do the next time we are required to evacuate a storm. In 1999, during a hurricane watch we were supposed to evacuate, and we did — fighting traffic for nine hours, moving only 57 miles on Highway 41. I promised myself that if there was another evacuation, I would stay at home and I probably will.

Let’s just say — the City of Charleston is extremely limited with evacuation routes. It is a nightmare to sit in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, while anticipating a hurricane. Next time? I think I’ll stay at home!