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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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