The Big Storm: Hurricane Matthew
Monday, October 24, 2016
So much has happened in a short period of time. Let me try to recap.
My husband and I went on a lovely vacation to Victoria BC at the end of September. We flew into Seattle, then took a high speed catamaran trip to Victoria for a weekend. While on the boat, we were seated with a couple (Donny and Shannon) from Edmunds, WA who were going there to stargaze the royals, Prince William, Kate and their two children. The royals happened to be vacationing in Victoria, and they made the trip just to see them wave for 5 minutes before they got on a seaplane and left - lol.
Shannon was a huge anglophile, so she was thrilled my husband is British, and asked him lots of questions about being native. We shared our experiences of traveling to England and other places, which made the 3 hour trip seem to fly by. At the end of the trip, we exchanged numbers and Facebook contacts.
During the trip, however, we saw on the news reports that Hurricane Matthew was heading right to our house. I posted a blog entry about Tropical Storm Hermine, which I guess was a mini fire drill for the real thing. When we got home from Seattle, we had exactly 2 days to prepare. We packed up valuables, boarded up windows, and snatched the cat in record time. I booked a hotel for us in Atlanta, and we were off.
Our stay in Atlanta wasn't much of a 'vacation' because we spent the whole time stressed about the house. We ate cheaply, and didn't go out to restaurants. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at a nearby Whole Foods buffet. It was the most economical option for us, and we could eat healthy. I was happy with this arrangement as it allowed me to stick with my food choices. I ate a protein, veggie, and a fruit, but no breads.
I did have one night when I splurged on a single slice of pizza. It did not hurt my long term objectives.
We stocked up on jerky and nuts for snacks in the room while we watched the storm on The Weather Channel. Our area was declared a mandatory evacuation zone, but most of our neighbors wanted to ride it out. My husband and I did not regret our decision to leave. It was nerve wracking, but it was better watching it on TV than being terrified in my house.
The hurricane passed over our area at about 2am in the morning, and I stayed up watching it on TV until about 4am in the morning. I spent the whole time worrying about the large pine tree in my neighbor's yard. I prayed that it would stay upright and not fall on the house. That was my biggest fear, and why we decided to leave even before the mandatory evacuation. If the tree fell on the house with us in it, it very well could kill us.
This did happen to some people in Florida, Georgia, S Carolina, and N Carolina; they were killed in their homes by fallen trees. Once the tree falls on the house and pierces the roof, the hurricane is now in your house. Whatever happened to our house, my husband and I were glad that we and the cat would be alive to tell the tale. In Atlanta, we were warm and safe, even while stressed.
After the storm passed, my husband and I got everything packed up. We kept an eye on the county updates to see when the evacuation order would be lifted. Word from our neighbors was there was a lot of damage in the area. They offered to take a look at the house for us. We were on pins and needles waiting for the text message. Did the big pine tree fall on our house? A disaster at any time, but it would have been particularly bad for us since we are preparing to sell it. When we got the text message "Looks fine", my husband and I gave an audible sigh of relief and a literal cheer.
Kitty isn't much of a fan of car rides, but she was surprisingly good and didn't complain too much. Animals are very intuitive, so perhaps she sensed that we were protecting her. She napped in the hotel window, and looked very curiously around the room, probably wondering what we were doing there, and if we were staying. She gave a few kitty protests being put in the cat carrier, but she napped the entire 4 hour trip from Atlanta back to Savannah.
On the drive back, we started seeing signs of the storm as far back as 55 miles from home. Random downed trees, snapped at the base like a giant pushed it over. As we rounded the corner to our neighborhood, we gasped when we saw a tree fallen on a power line. Branches and debris everywhere - it was a mess. We turned onto our street and saw a large pine tree similar to our neighbor's that we were so worried about fallen between two houses. Those guys were so lucky - I joked that they needed to buy lottery tickets. The tree literally fell right between them, and just 12 feet in either direction would have landed on their house. We saw a couple of trees in empty lots tipped and crushed.
Then we saw our house, and it looked just fine. Part of a neighbor's tree was blown into our yard, but that was it. The giant pine tree that we feared would fall on our home stood tall and straight.
A neighbor spotted us, and came over to give us the neighborhood report. Mary is an elderly lady who decided to ride it out because she had friends from the islands staying with her. She said it very scary. The winds picked up at 2am (just like I saw on the Weather Channel), and they lost power at about 3am. She said the winds didn't die down until about 5am. The power was still out in our neighborhood.
My husband and I took a walk around the neighborhood to survey the damage. Our street got very, very lucky. Just one block down from us, 4 houses had trees fallen on them that cut straight through them, split in half. Fortunately, no one was injured. Blue tarps covered holes, and work had already begun on repairing roofs.
While I cleaned my yard, I ran into another neighbor who rode out the storm. She said staying was a mistake, and if they had to do it all over again, they would have left like we did. She said it was terrifying.
I stayed awake all night watching it on the TV; I could only imagine the horror from the inside. Once the storm starts, that's it. You are on your own. For Savannah, the storm came in during the middle of the night, and they lost power at 3am. There's no cell phone service, you can't see what's going on the TV - you are totally on your own in the dark. If something went wrong or someone got hurt, there is no one that could help you.
It took another 3 days after we got home for the power to come on, and another 5 days to get our internet back. Once we got the debris cleaned up in our yard, we started moving on to the next big thing: my husband got a job offer in Colorado Springs, so I am moving back to my hometown! The last couple of weeks has been a flurry as I've packed and cleaned, packed and cleaned. One of our neighbors is a realtor, and she is going to market our home for us after we have left. Our roof only had minor shingle damage from the storm, but because our roof is very old, we can't just replace the missing tiles. We need a whole roof replacement. Fortunately, our insurance is going to cover it, so we can sell it with a whole new roof, which is actually a good thing. It's just time consuming. We're waiting on contractors, and everyone is booked up because there is storm damage everywhere. It's a good time to be a roofer!
So my life is about to change again. We're heading back to my home town. I am happy, excited, and stressed - but in a good way. It's a lot of work to pack our stuff and clean, but I have a little pep in my step and I'm working at it with gusto. I've stuck with my low-carb diet through this, and I even managed to lose 3 pounds from packing, moving boxes, and cleaning from dawn til dusk. The Instant Pot electric pressure cooker has been a life saver for this job. Well worth the money - I can even cook food from frozen. We have been eating soups, stews and chili. No need for pizza during a move.
Onward to the Next Big Thing...to be continued...