Living in the Southeast, hurricanes are commonly on our minds. As a family we’ve traveled to Hilton Head Island, Isle of Palms, and Charleston for as long as I can remember. Within the past few years we’ve made Isle of Palms and Charleston our family vacation spot. Last year when hurricane Matthew hit we were luckily not physically in the area, but were bracing ourselves for destruction across the area. Isle of Palms and Charleston were both spared, and we breathed a sigh of relief. This year we packed up and headed down to Isle of Palms for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation. Our vacation was cut short with the threat of hurricane Irma looming. While Irma’s path was uncertain for so long, we knew that if she came towards us it wouldn’t be good. So, we gathered supplies, boarded up the house and headed back to Charlotte. The path continued to change, and in the end we got lucky (again). However, experiencing the threat of such a powerful storm instilled some lessons in me that I will never forget.
1. Be vigilant, but don’t panic.
After a few days at the beach, we started to pay more and more attention to Irma. As we watched the news and paid attention to social media we started to realize we needed to be prepared (not only for it potentially hitting the coast, but also Charlotte). We headed out to purchase the essentials: gas, water, and batteries. While we weren’t ahead of the crowd, we were definitely able to find all of these items. We had to make a few stops (Wal-Mart, gas stations, and Target), but in the end we were able to stock up. Even though we were headed home we had seen reports that certain items were gone from shelves in Charlotte. So to get ahead we bought the essentials and packed them for our trip home. While we also purchased some food (canned goods, non-perishables), we waited to purchase the majority of these at home if necessary. Southern Living has a great list of the best foods to stockpile for an emergency.
2. Be Patient
We left Isle of Palms Friday morning, and a typically 3 hour 30 minute drive took us close to 6 hours. Along our route we saw so many Florida and Georgia tags, which was due to the evacuations in those states. I can’t stress the importance of patience enough; you’re going to get to your destination, but you won’t get there quickly. Traffic moved at a steady pace, but it was nowhere near the normal speed. Take breaks, let your children and animals stretch their legs. We stopped a few times for breaks, to fill our gas tank, and to get food. Patience truly is a virtue, especially during times of high stress.
3. Check on Family and Friends
While we were able to get out of the South Carolina coast, I was constantly checking on friends and family. I have friends in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. My grandparents and other family members live in Florida, so we were conscious of making sure they were all okay throughout the storm. Offering my home to friends and family was the least I could do. We were very lucky that no major damage occurred, and all my friends and family were safe throughout.
I’m sure anyone who’s lived through a fierce storm has much more advice to provide, but these are just a few tips from what I experienced.
Below are some links to further information:
Download the Gas Buddy app