My regulars know that I live in the Charleston, South Carolina area. Well, technically I live in Moncks Corner, which is one of many towns that generally gets lumped into what we refer to as “Charleston” when communicating with those who don’t live here. Moncks Corner is about an hour from the coast… 45ish miles from the nearest beach.
With that in mind, you can probably understand why I was feeling pretty nervous about Hurricane Matthew. We’ve had a few tropical storms this year and even some hype surrounding Hurricane Hermine, but Matthew was quickly shaping up to be a different beast, and I learned a lot from this experience.
The Hurricane Hype
We’ve had so many hyped up storms in the last year and most of it ended up as just that… hype. When the news and my friends first started mentioning Hurricane Matthew, I blew it off. I wasn’t going to fall for the hype again and I wasn’t interested in running out to the store in sheer panic. Nope, not falling for that crap again.
That’s when I saw it obliterate Haiti and I got a little nervous. Should I be preparing for this? I don’t know a ton about hurricanes. The last one I was really in was Hurricane Andrew… in 1992. I have zero experience with a storm like this. What the hell was I supposed to be doing?
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- Buy water.
- Fill bath tubs with water.
- Buy non-perishables.
- More water.
- Board up the windows.
- Cat food.
- Candles & Flashlights.
- A lot more water.
These are all I could think of. I had no idea what else to do or how to plan. Should we book a hotel now? How am I going to transport 3 cats in an emergency? Where would we go? How are we going to afford a pet-friendly hotel right now? – we just paid the mortgage! Crap, crap, CRAP!
There was so much hurry up and wait at that point. School cancellations started on Monday while there was barely a cloud in the sky. It was hard for me to take it all too seriously yet. Were they really expecting that sort of devastation? Was I about to lose my house?
Stay or Go?
By Wednesday, I wanted to leave. We all discussed leaving as a family – Jeremy, myself and our 3 cats, plus his brothers, wife and cats that live in the neighborhood. Governor Nikki Haley ordered an evacuation and for our interstate to be reversed at 3pm that day (basically, it means all lanes lead out of Charleston, towards Columbia and there’s no way back into town).
Part of me wanted to stay. What if it really wasn’t too bad? We weren’t technically in an evacuation zone. What if it just flooded a little? I could protect the house from some flooding if I stayed. Ultimately, I let Jeremy make the call and we agreed to stay. We prepared our home for guests (even invited a close friend of mine, her boyfriend and their 7… yes, seven cats), and did everything we could to get ready.
Preparing for Hurricane Matthew
Thanks to the power of Facebook (and with help from more experienced home owners in my neighborhood), I think we prepared ourselves for the worst. I picked up a lot of great tips that were randomly shared by friends and I put them and my common sense to good use. Here’s a few things we did…
We removed all of them. I have no idea how hard they may or may not be to replace, but they weren’t difficult at all to take out. I imagine it would have been easy for a hurricane to rip them out and make them into a projectile. I think removing them from the 9 windows in our house (some windows don’t have screens) took all of 10 minutes.
Frozen Water Bottles
Probably the most genius thing I did. I um, have an addiction to Lipton Green Tea with Citrus and I buy it in big cases, bottled. Don’t hate me for that. I know that’s wasteful. I save them with intent to have them recycled at least. Hence, I had a ton of them and after cleaning them we filled 45 bottles with water and put them in our freezer.
We did this just in case we lost power. We didn’t have much in our freezer – it was near grocery shopping time anyways. I figured we could use the frozen bottles instead to keep the contents of the fridge cold in the event we lost power. Spoiler Alert: It worked brilliantly.
There was still that chance we may need to leave in an emergency, so I made sure all of our clothes were washed. If we had to leave, there was no telling how long we’d have to stay gone, so I wanted to know I at least had clean undies for my bum.
Ordered Cat Food
Every week, I order our cats food via Amazon. I do this because although every bag comes with a $3 off coupon, it’s actually cheaper by a whole $6 per 4 pound bag to purchase their food online and have it 2-day shipped. We had a lot, but I wanted to be absolutely sure we had enough. I ordered their food with plenty of time to spare. It should have arrived on Thursday, but of course… there was no way into town by that point. I ordered the food before the interstate reversal was made. The food never arrived and Jeremy ended up buying a bag of the old food our cats used to eat – just in case.
Jeremy went to the store in search of food for us to eat in case we lost power. He purchased non-perishables and snacks… Spam, Potted Meat, cans of soup, chips, fruit cups, etc. We stocked our pantry with enough food to last us at least a few days worth of not having power.
Someone told me you shouldn’t fill up bath tubs that are on the second floor of your house, but for us that would have left us without a tub of water in case we lost water pressure for flushing the toilet. We filled the Master bathroom and guest bathroom tubs upstairs because there’s no tub on our first floor.
Braving the Storm
I absolutely do not want to discount the destruction caused or the lives lost because of Hurricane Matthew. It was a brutal storm and it affected the lives of several of my blogging friends in Florida, not to mention the lives of hundreds of people in Haiti.
Having said that, by the time it reached me, Hurricane Matthew was nothing more than a Category 1 bitch storm with a little rain and some wind. I wouldn’t say it was over-hyped… but I would say that we made the right call by staying home.
Being that we live at the lowest point of our street (the storm drains are in front of my home), I expected flooding as all of the water rushes towards our house, and it’s been known to flood during Tropical Storms. Spoiler Alert: No flooding. None, like… at all. At least not on my street.
That said, historical downtown Charleston is flooded. Granted, if you even say ‘water’ too loudly in Charleston, it floods. Some places in Moncks Corner (including my neighborhood) saw some flooding due to bodies of water overflowing. Some of my neighbors ended up with small pools in their back yards.
The wind caused most of the damage. Fortunately for my home, it was protected by several other houses as the wind blew down my street towards the side of my house. Some families in our neighborhood lost roof shingles or siding. And some idiots lost their trampolines because they didn’t tie them down correctly. Way to go assholes. Surrounding areas saw a lot of broken trees, signs torn down, etc.
We lost power eventually. I was surprised because it had held out really well and it seemed like the worst had already passed when it finally gave out. Three cuts out and back in… followed by BOOM, and the power was gone.
The strange thing about our neighborhood is that it’s on two different grids – so the newer portion lost power, while the older did not. Jeremy’s brother had purchased a generator beforehand and there was brief talks of bring it over to our house since we weren’t sure how long we’d go without.
We split up the frozen water bottles in order to protect the food in the freezer and fridge. It worked brilliantly. We were without power for 8-9 hours and the food was still frozen solid 6 hours in when we pulled out some pork chops to bring to Jeremy’s brother’s house for a cook out.
After The Storm
We were one of the lucky ones. I have friends still without power, trees through their homes, leaks in their roofs. We came out of our first real hurricane with little more than a week of stress, and inconvenience – which I am incredibly thankful for.
We were well prepared, but I definitely learned from this experience and know that there’s plenty we could have done to better prepare (something I hope we don’t have to think about for a long time coming).
This morning, there’s not a cloud in the sky…