September 2019

Should I Stay or Should I Go?- The CH2 team sounds off on Hurricane Dorian.

Author: Special to CH2

Maggie Washo
Nothing makes you appreciate the expansive green space of Hilton Head Island like running down a hotel hallway and nine elevator flights with a dog who has explosive diarrhea. At 1:30 a.m., 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. The upside? I now have a vet in Greenville should I decide to retire there one day. After Governor McMaster gave the order to evacuate for Hurricane Dorian, Lucy and I headed four hours north to discover Greenville, S.C. for an upcoming fashion/travel piece in our November issue. This city reminds me of Charleston 20 years ago—only with less humidity and mountains in the distance instead of the ocean. What stood out to me the most was how dog-friendly the town was and how many boutiques and restaurants were within walking distance from our hotel. There is a gorgeous waterfall right in the middle of town with numerous walking and running paths for those so inclined. I absolutely fell in love with Greenville, and I can’t wait to show you more next month. Asheville is only an hour away, so we spent a day driving through small towns and gazing at mountains in the distance. It was a great way to make the best out of yet another hurrication.

Hunter Kostylo
Should I stay, or should I go? With the ever-changing “cone of uncertainty,” I was initially planning to ride out Hurricane Dorian at home. But then I thought to myself, “Everything is closed, and what am I going to do for three days?” So, my family and I packed up Wednesday morning and headed to Atlanta, where there was free lodging and a chance to visit my niece and nephew. The days were filled with carpool lines, sidewalk chalk pictures in the driveway when the temperature wasn’t a scorching 100 degrees, and constant streaming of The Weather Channel in the living room and on the outside porch. You couldn’t turn a corner without seeing an ad for generators during the storm coverage, lol. After seeing what happened in the Bahamas, I feel blessed that our little island experienced minor damage and we were able to get back home. All in all, my little hurrication was the perfect opportunity to get away and spend some time with my family.

Ashton Harmon
After much debate whether to stay or go, we decided to head to Atlanta to escape Hurricane Dorian. My husband Steve, our nine-month-old daughter Campbell and I got in the car at 6 p.m. Monday night in hopes that Campbell would sleep the whole way there. Wrong! Apparently, she is like her momma and enjoys the comfort of her own bed. After the initial stress of packing, getting there, and all of the “what-if” worries, we decided to make the best of it. I did some shopping; Steve played golf; Campbell indulged in the breakfast buffet every morning; we visited the aquarium (like everyone else who evacuated with kids); and we spent time with family and friends. This was also our first “vacation” as a family of three. I had been a little nervous to travel with Campbell and mess with her routine that I worked so hard to establish, but she was a trooper and surprised us. It would have been nice if our first trip together had been under different circumstances, but it made for great memories—all the sweeter since we got to return home to our beautiful island.

Linda Hopkins
When the governor says go, I go. In fact, I was packed the night before the evacuation was ordered as I am not one to rough it—even for a few hours. My cat Bentley and I headed up to Atlanta and bunked with my husband in a hotel with no swaying trees threatening to pierce the roof or knock out the power. The next day, I went for my biannual mall-air breathing treatment at Nordstrom with my best friend Beth, whom I’ve known since nursery school. I also got to visit with my aunt and uncle, who recently moved to a senior living facility in the Atlanta area. It was heartwarming to see them adjusting to and thriving in their new environment. The following day, I received a dose of love from a litter of week-old kittens while visiting another cherished Atlanta friend, Jane Lamas, of I-Catchers Persians. I lunched with the ladies, and in the evenings, my husband wined and dined me until the storm had passed and I could fight my way through city traffic one last time. Coming back over the bridge to HHI was like a free therapy session and massage all in one. I was happy to see only a smattering of small branches in the yard and a few downed trees in the neighborhood. Then, I opened my refrigerator to make a grocery list and the nightmare began. Apparently, while I was away, somebody committed murder and stored the dead body in there. Not really, but that’s what it smelled like. Let’s just say I didn’t need a frozen quarter to know that everything had to be thrown out. After performing multiple rounds of decontamination, the refrigerator is ready for its life-saving surgery (replacement parts ordered). Meanwhile, I’m doing my best to support the restaurants who lost a week’s business due to Hurricane Dorian.

Caroline Mahecha
After four consecutive years of mandatory evacuations, my husband and three little girlies decided to do an actual evacuation/vacation—just us five. We headed to Highlands, N.C. (I hadn’t been there since the tenth grade!) The town hasn’t changed much at all since the late ’90s, with the German influence, pristine streets, and gorgeous flowers adorning each building—especially the inns. We ate a delicious Italian meal and then enjoyed ice cream underneath beautiful hanging lights and the crystal night sky, where we watched for shooting stars. The house we rented on Airbnb was simply amazing; the little girls had a wonderful time exploring and playing with trinkets that did not belong to us, therefore making it much more enjoyable!
It was all fun and games until they were convinced that our Airbnb was haunted, LOL. After that moment, it was no longer fun, and they were counting the hours until we left. Thank goodness we made it out alive and well and came home to our cozy home with power and water! We shall stay out … until next evacuation (wink wink).

Kim Crouch
Our original plan was not to leave, but then the thought of being stuck in my house, potentially without power, with a three-year-old and 14-year-old with nothing to do, drove the decision to pack up! Since we had already evacuated to Augusta for Matthew and Orlando for Irma, we set our sights on Atlanta. We actually have an evacuation group text, and Buckhead was the consensus among five other families we have evacuated with in the past. As soon as we got there, my three-year-old was burning up with a fever and puked, so we were not off to a good start. Eventually she started feeling better, but it did put a damper on the first dinner out at Maggiano’s. One of my friends who lives in Buckhead suggested renting bikes and riding the BeltLine for lunch; I absolutely loved it! Coming from Hilton Head Island, the thought of riding around the perimeter of the city on bikes and having lunch and shopping in amazing markets sounded perfect. We also took all the families to Topgolf, which seemed like a good idea at the time. With 10 kids, eight of them under age 10, Topgolf is definitely not recommended. One night, we got to go to a Braves game against the Nationals. The tickets were free to evacuees, so that was a bonus. All in all, it was nice little getaway in a big city. It does make me appreciate our gorgeous little island. So thankful Hilton Head Island was not in Dorian’s direct path.

Kandace Wightman
A few weeks ago, I was like many other coastal residents: glued to the television, receiving alerts on my app, and checking Facebook every five minutes. Although our area was under a mandatory evacuation order, I chose to stay in the comfort of my home with my dog Bongo. I came up with a brilliant idea that would help ease his discomfort. In the past, he has been fearful whenever a storm would arrive. Having sensitive ears, it makes for a much worse experience.

Thursday night, Hurricane Dorian rolled in off the coast. I decided to camp out in my closet for the night and put my brilliant plan into motion. I removed all of the clothing from the bottom rails in my closet. I then piled in my sleeping bag, my pillows, and tons of blankets. It was beginning to look like a fort I would make as a child; I even placed my travel TV/DVD player in the closet. That was a part of my brilliant plan to shield Bongo from the noise and give him comfort. The A Team was the perfect movie to watch. It drowned out the noise outside with its explosions and gun fights every five minutes.

During my camp out, my mother called to check up on me and to let me know the storm had increased to a Cat 3. The lights started to flicker, and I could hear the winds pick up speed. I quickly said goodbye to my mother and settled in for the long night.

Shortly thereafter, Bongo dozed off in my lap, snoring away! I had a harder time falling asleep. My nerves kicked in, and I was worried about everything and hoped the hurricane didn’t do any damage to the outside of my home.

When Bongo and I woke up the next morning, it was calm, as if it was never even there. We walked outside to take a look around and assess the damage. To my surprise, there was only a little debris scattered throughout the yard. All in all, I think that staying the night was the right choice for us. My closet fort was the perfect place to be.

Kaila Jeffcoat
When an evacuation is ordered, I am usually one of the first people to load the car and lock up the house! As a resident of Hilton Head, being stuck on an island, powerless in case of an emergency, sounds less than enticing. But since moving to Bluffton last December, the fear of being stuck wasn’t quite as paralyzing. Somehow, I convinced myself that my evacuation plan could be put into action at any moment, having already crossed the bridge. This year, we stayed. We closely watched the path of Dorian and had The Weather Channel on for five days straight to keep us updated on the latest track. The time was filled with homemade margaritas, taco night and cards with my in-laws (which I don’t recommend if your family is as competitive as mine). I can say from my sleepless night when Dorian passed through, I can’t fathom the fear of living through a hurricane of any size that makes landfall. As I laid there, I watched the clock from 1 to 2 to 3 a.m. through the night, listening to the downpour of rain and the swirls of wind that would pass and wondering if Dorian had skirted closer to the coast. It is with gratitude that we made it unscathed through another hurricane in our beautiful Lowcountry. Next hurrication, the Jeffcoat clan will definitely be packed for evacuation.

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