Preparing for Hurricane Irma: 5 Things We Learned From Matthew

I write this now, not to scare you, but to remind you of the realities that these incredible storms produce. Hurricane Matthew was a category 2, and it rocked our lives last year.

Let us fill up your news feed with just a bit more of hurricane preparedness information… It’s been an exhausting week watching this storm slowly but surely head our way, and we haven’t even evacuated yet. As it closes in on us, it does in fact look like our homes will be on the end of Irma’s wrath. The question is just how bad will her wrath be? I’m no meteorologist, so I can’t help in that department. However, I can restate the obvious and what we learned from having Matthew as our uninvited guest last year.

  1. If you can evacuate, don’t hesitate to do so.

    Evacuating is nerve-wracking, possibly expensive and scary. There are so many unknowns for your belongings and property when you leave them behind. It’s stressful making sure you have full tanks in your cars, enough water and non-perishable food for an evacuation, trying to find a safe and affordable place to go that’s out of the path of the storm, packing while having to decipher between necessities and wants, and more. It’s just plain stressful. Then you typically worry about looters, those ever-so-kind souls that take advantage of your safety precautions and try to rob you of your hard-earned possessions. We get it. There are a lot of reasons for not wanting to evacuate. However, I think the Florida Governor summed this situation up best. He said, “We can rebuild your homes. We cannot rebuild your lives.” 

  2. During a Hurricane, Trees Are Basically Twigs

    Hurricane Matthew was a category 2 when it slowly traveled by Savannah. A category 2. It should be fresh in your memory, but remember that Sandfly and Isle of Hope lost many a beautiful tree during that storm. Power lines were down all over the place- on homes, across roads, into standing water. It was a giant mess, one that took the county quite a long time to clean up. Even worse, some of your homes had trees through them. The huge gusts of wind were loud and omnipotent during the storm. The loud snapping of trees was truly petrifying because you were just sitting there wondering when your trees would be next. Was that last crack the foreboding sound of the tree that was going to fall on your shelter, on you?

  3. Rain & Wind- Oh and Tornados

    You think you know about rain and wind until you’ve lived through a hurricane. Combine the two with the type of force hurricanes possess, and it is humbling. Your thoughts go from, It’s just a storm. A little rain and wind won’t do too much damage., to, Is my house safe? Is my roof going to blow off? Are my windows going to break? Is that the whistling sound of a tornado? What do I do?!? Like I said, I’m no meteorologist. I don’t know the exact placement of tornados within the storm system, but I can attest to the fact that they are a very real threat. Like any tornado, you don’t know where it will touch down. You don’t know what impact it will have, but combined with the rain and wind, the results are disastrous.

  4. Flooding

    As we’ve seen recently in Houston and the surrounding areas, flooding is a silent threat. The water literally creeps up until before you know it, it’s in your home. We were fortunate with Matthew to have minimal flooding in buildings. However, all of Lake Mayor flooded down Sally Mood Drive. Other roads were also underwater. It was a sight to behold. Water just swallowed everything. Matthew was a category 2. If a larger hurricane heads our way, flooding will most likely be a problem for us. We’re so fortunate to live on our beautiful coast until a natural disaster of this proportion comes our way.

  5. In All the Bad, People Come Together

    In the aftermath of Matthew, those of us who stayed were exhausted. It felt like the longest night of our lives. The storm felt like it sat over us for an eternity. When daylight broke, our Sandfly looked apocalyptic (probably an overstatement now, but at the time…). You didn’t know if there were going to be desperate, unprepared individuals who would try to rob you of your water, food, ammunition or worse- tv’s or items that had no value at a moment like this. You were without electricity, cell service for a time, internet, tv- anything that connected you to the world outside your home. A mandatory curfew was put on you, a very strange feeling when you’re an adult and usually in charge of yourself. There were tan hummers slowly patrolling the streets night and day. Uniformed National Guard members stood guard along the walls of the only grocery store open. You were on edge. It was an eerie moment when everything was teetering on a balance beam. And then, clean up started to happen. As tired as you were, things were a mess and had to be handled. So, you cleaned up your property. Then you looked at your neighbors. You knew they had evacuated and were stressed already from being away, so you cleaned up their yard. This goodwill spread all over our community. People shared food, storm stories, hard work, water. We knew it wouldn’t last forever, but for those few weeks, there was a true peace over Sandfly and Isle of Hope. People helping people.

I write this now, not to scare you, but to remind you of the realities that these incredible storms produce. Hurricane Matthew was a category 2, and it rocked our lives last year. Hurricane Irma is currently a category 5. Even if it is downgraded to a category 2 or 3 when it reaches us, that is still a very large storm that will have a large impact. Keep you and your families safe. Take anything with a heartbeat with you (dogs, cats, chickens, whatever). Lives are what matter.

Stay safe, y’all. You’re all in our prayers.

At the time of this blog post, Chatham County has not issued an evacuation order. The contents of this article are matter of opinion. Please listen to your local and state authorities’ guidance to keep you and your family safe. 

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