Goodbye Hurricane Florence


Dearest Readers:

Normally, when we have hurricane warnings/watches and the winds roar, I get horrified and do not sleep. Not with Hurricane Florence. I’ve slept really great every night, including last night. I awoke after 9:00am this morning. Really strange. Today looks like a normal day in Charleston, SC. We have gray clouds while the sun is fighting to return. No roaring winds sounding like a wild tiger or a freight train. Only a slight whisper of wind. My Lantana moves only slightly. So, I suppose normalcy has returned.

Last night when I awoke in the middle of the night, I turned the TV to Direct TV channel 362, THE WEATHER CHANNEL, just to see what was happening. I must’ve fallen back to sleep before realizing what was on. I do that a lot when I have insomnia. The funny thing about Florence was I slept. I wasn’t afraid. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through at least five hurricanes, staying for all of them:

Hurricane Hugo, September, 1989 – stayed with 62 students at a historical building downtown

Hurricane Floyd, September, 1999 – we attempted to leave due to a ‘mandatory evacuation’. I packed up only one item. My father’s rocking chair, given to him by Sandpiper Convalescent Center when we was crowned “Mr. Sandpiper!” He passed away on July 6, 1999. The grief was so traumatic for me, I wanted something sentimental to take with me. My husband shook his head, tied the chair to the back of his SUV so it would not roll around and off we went. We stayed in a traffic jam for 10 hours, moving only 57 miles! Traffic was such a nightmare we decided to find a hotel. If you’ve read my stories regarding Hurricane Florence, you might remember the hotel for Hurricane Floyd was more of a place where entertainment of a certain type might happen. We were desperate. Exhausted. The next morning, we came home, deciding from now on, we will remain home whenever a ‘mandatory evacuation’ is ordered. Just what will they do to us if we don’t leave? NOTHING! Floyd had turned over night. Charleston was safe. We drove home in less than 45 minutes!

Hurricane Matthew, October, 2016 – we stayed. I failed to sleep. Matthew kissed the coast as a category one storm, causing flooding. 

Hurricane Irma, 2017 – we stayed.

Hurricane Florence, September, 2018 – so thankful we stayed. We considered leaving. After realizing that many of the hurricanes coming to Charleston, turn inland we chose to stay. Hugo turned in to Charlotte. Floyd – ? Sorry, I don’t remember and I’m much too tired to research now.

Will we stay for the next hurricane? Probably. For now, I simply want to thank God for keeping us safe. Lumberton, North Carolina is flooded again. I have friends living in Wilmington. Reportedly, they cannot get out to leave, calling for rescue. My prayers are with them.

As for Charleston, South Carolina? We were blessed. Walking outside, I discovered I do not have any yard debris to clean. It’s just another day in our neck of the woods.

Schools are opening. Phil is working today, and I imagine the traffic jams have returned. Just another day. Goodbye Florence. Soon Hurricane Florence will be history. My heart breaks for those who will have to file with FEMA. After the Hundred Year storm of October, 2015, we had damage, only to discover our wind and hail damage was not covered by State Farm insurance arthur-ravenel-jr-bridgeadjusters.?? We had wind and hail insurance. Not covered??? I was told the ‘regulations recently changed.’ My response: “rest assured, my insurance company will change!” Reluctantly, I filed with FEMA only to be told our home was still in ‘livable condition,’ so they could not assist us. I filed three times. Finally, I researched SBA Disaster Relief.

My advice to those who will be forced to fight with insurance companies is this: You must be diplomatic. Contact the insurance company requesting letters from them, then you can file with FEMA. It isn’t an easy process, just document all phone calls to them. Names. Response…Time…Everything! I really doubt if many of those affected during Florence will have flood insurance. If not, they should buy flood insurance for the next hurricane since history reveals hurricanes hitting the southeast coast turn inland and there is where the major damage occurs.

Meanwhile, I pray we will not have more loss of lives. I haven’t listened to the news broadcast this morning. I suppose I could say, I am burned out! Hopeful, today is a new day!

Hurricane Florence – Finally It Rains


Dearest Readers:

I suppose I should report, it looks like Hurricane Florence finally visited Charleston. We’re getting rain now. Looks like it has been a nice soaker – just like a normal rainy day. The winds are dancing on the tree branches just like a normal day when we have rain.

I haven’t been outside yet, but I will in a moment. Neither have I listened to the latest news broadcast about Hurricane Florence. I did get a news alert about a ‘possible shooting in North Charleston’ so I suppose things are returning to normal now. I was hoping the violence would leave the Charleston low country permanently.

Florence is being kind to Charleston, SC. All is fine. All this hoopla, mandatory evacuation and panic from others who’ve never been in a hurricane, for me, I found it slightly humorous! I’ve been in at least five hurricanes. Hurricane Hugo. Hurricane Danny – I think he brushed the low country. Hurricane Floyd. An unnamed tropical storm that teased Charleston, and now, Hurricane Florence.  We were blessed. Never did the lights flicker. As I glance outside, my lawn looks normal. Nice and wet, but normal.

We haven’t had mail delivery in two days. I haven’t a clue when it will be delivered, but I’m hopeful my order from Chewy.com will arrive before my Bratty Boys run out of food. All the WalMarts are closed! Isn’t it funny? No. It isn’t. We live in a hurricane prone area, so we must be prepared!

Last night when I turned the Weather Channel off so I could attempt sleep, I heard five people were killed during Hurricane Florence. A mother and an infant killed when a tree crashed into their home. The father was rescued and rushed to the hospital. Someone died from hooking up a generator, and a woman had a heart attack and died. I haven’t heard anything about the fifth loss of life and I pray there are not additional victims. For the families affected, I am so sorry for your loss, especially for the loss of a mother and infant. Suppose we’ll hear more about those stories later.

Looks like all the residents of South Carolina can inhale…exhale…and breathe now! I suppose this is Day Six of Florence. I think she likes Charleston. To all who were in the eyes of Florence, I do hope you are safe now and realize life is slowly returning to ‘normal.’

This is the first hurricane I’ve actually slept well in. Normally, I get so tense and horrified I do not sleep. Not this time. I’ve prayed and prayed, placing everything in the hands of God. Thank you, God. All is fine!arthur-ravenel-jr-bridge

 

Day Three – Hurricane Florence Update


Dearest Readers:

Thought I’d post a quick update regarding Hurricane Florence. We are ready for her. Today is day three of listening to the Weather Channel, and Channel 2 weather reports. By now, I’m almost burned out from listening to the same thing…over…and over…and over again!

Hurricane Florence is now a Category Three. Yesterday at this time, she was Category Four. Just shows, you don’t mess with a woman when she’s in a hurry to get somewhere, and forgets the directions. Only then, will a woman a clam up to make others feel as cold as ice, or as stormy and powerful as the winds when she is – shall I say – annoyed!

My hubby says I’m good at that. LOL! He also says I’m ‘childish,’ whenever I give him the cold shoulder. He should know, so I’ll not confirm or deny. After all, we are discussing a ‘hurricane a-coming,’ aren’t we!

To those in the direction of this her-I-cane, yes, intentionally misspelled so please don’t say I have a typo! To all of you, I want to say, if you’re lacking faith, or do not pray, maybe tonight is a good night to say a little prayer. Trust me, God is there. He listens, even when storms are-a-comin’!

Someone in my neighborhood must be having a hurricane party. There are lots of cars parked on the roadway, and I hear laughing, shouting, and maybe a bit of music. Maybe someday I’ll get gutsy and throw a hurricane party. For this hurricane, all I want to do is watch TV and snuggle up with hubby and the Bratty Boys! Yes. I’m sick of listening to the latest predictions, of where…when…and how… I simply want this Hurricane Florence to get to her destination and leave, and I pray the damage and power of her rage will not be as strong as ‘they,’ on the Weather Channel and local TV are predicting.

During this time I remember when I worked at the culinary college in 1989 during Hurricane Hugo. The administration was looking for volunteers to help with the students, so I volunteered. I don’t think I slept for over 30 hours or longer. I learned a lot about students during that time. The old cliché, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, certainly applied. Several students wanted hugs so, I shared hugs with all of them. Those were good memories during Hurricane Hugo, and after the wrath of the storm, when it was confirmed that we could allow everyone to go outside, just to get a fresh breath, I felt a newfound pride for all that we endured. Some of the students held teddy bears, pillows, blankets during the intense sounds of Hugo. All of them needed the comforts of home, so on the fourth floor of the historical building, now called The Cigar Factory, we snuggled together in a big warehouse room. No windows. Only the roar of a freight train, as we listened to Hugo and his arrogance. Because the building is such an old, brick historical building, at times, I could see the flash of lightning, and when I did, I shivered. I have an intense phobia of lightning, but I knew, I had to be strong. Some of the students wanted to pray, so we joined hands and prayed.

Standing outside the morning after Hugo, the students thanked me for being Mom to them. How proud I was of myself and these students. We survived a devil’s night of Hurricane Hugo, and we were the better for it. Hugo taught us strength, and mostly, that hurricane taught some students to pray and to have faith. I’ve always said a bad start means a great ending. Suppose that is true.

It is dark outside now while I am typing this. We’ve had scattered, light showers today. Nothing different from other days when we have afternoon showers. Still, I get phone calls inquiring: Are you leaving? I laugh. Nope, we are staying here. We have the Bratty Boys (our precious, beloved animals). Mostly, we have faith. Phil and I have battled many storms not just the torrential storms, but — all types. Sometimes verbal storms. If you’ve been married, perhaps you understand. 

Yesterday while talking on the phone to one of my dearest friends, we both laughed when we spoke about Hawaii and what they must do when hurricanes knock on their doors. Just where do they go? They can’t reverse a bridge???  Evacuate? Where??? Well, maybe they drive up in the mountains. On second thought, maybe not. Isn’t that where the active volcanoes are? Sometimes my mind should just shut down!

I suppose I’ll have another post tomorrow. I still have things to do. Making certain all the laundry is done. Think I only have a couple of things to wash. I want to make sure our undies are nice and fresh. After all, a hurricane is a-coming, and with it, we’ll probably lose power. Need to vacuum again too. Just tidy up a bit – before the Hurricane knows on our door. The door bell doesn’t work, so maybe Florence will leave us alone!

It is quiet now. No wind is blowing. Perhaps, the calm before the storm…And on that note, I suppose I’ll close and toss a few things into the wash. Until tomorrow!cropped-arthur-ravenel-bridge

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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!