The calm during the storm

After two years of living on the coast, we have experienced our first named tropical system to directly impact us in the form of our good friend Hermine.

Fortunately, we just got lots of wind and rain, and only lost power for a few hours. But I learned a few things over the course of the storm:

  • I already knew many people can’t drive. They can’t drive even more during storms. And the main way they become infinitely worse drivers occurs when traffic lights go out. Folks, it’s simple: If the intersection you are approaching has actual traffic lights, but the traffic lights are not on, it becomes a four-way stop. Simple as that. And even if you choose to ignore that fairly basic rule, could you at least slow down a little when you barrel through the unregulated traffic intersection?
  • IMG_8350The beach is as fun as you would expect. During one break in the storm, I told my wife that I was going to run down to the beach with my son and one of the dogs to see what the ocean looked like. She had that look on her face that she has a lot. The break in the storm lasted far less than I thought, and as we were walking up to the beach, the rains started again. And this was a blinding, stinging rain. “Daddy, it hurts!” said my son. “That means it’s working!” I said. When we got right up to the beach access, the swirling winds were picking up sand and whipping it at us, giving us a lovely sand blasting. My dog is still not speaking to me. And my car smells like wet, angry dog.
  • I have found my wife’s tolerance for tropical weather, and it’s right at whatever level Hermine was at when it rolled over Charleston. During one point in the day, as the winds were swirling and the rain was going sideways and the trees were whipping back and forth, she said to me, “You know, this is just a tropical depression. The moment someone says the word ‘hurricane’ I’m hitting the road.” I noticed she didn’t say “we” were hitting the road. I think she is allowing for the real possibility I say, “Eh, let’s go have a look at the beach first.” And she’ll give me that look. And then promptly evacuate.
  • Speaking of those swaying trees, I am not sure why I (and probably you) have a fascination with watching the trees sway back and forth in heavy winds. At one point, I was standing in our front yard, watching trees go back and forth, and I said to myself, “What exactly am I doing this for?”
  • Kids getting a weather day off from school? Awesome! Kids cooped up at home on a weather day? Not awesome. When my daughter said she wanted to go to a friend’s house, my wife said, “Allie, you are not driving over there.” Being the quick thinking problem solver I am, I said, “But I’ll drive you over there.” My wife gave me her other look, the one that says, “Maybe he’s got a couple of brain cells still functioning.”
  • A power outage is a good reason to try a new restaurant. We opted for an Irish pub near our house. My son ordered what he thought was burgers and mashed potatoes. It was bangers and mash, which is slightly different. When it arrived, he saw the sausage piled on top of the mashed potatoes, and he said, “Um, where is the burger?” I said, “You ordered bangers and…” My wife cut me off. She did a masterful mom misdirection and started describing the fantastic Irish offering he had been served and did some kind of voodoo sleight of hand only moms can do. In no time, his plate was cleaned.
  • I had to run into work to take care of something, and I am reminded how much fun it is driving in high winds, in particular on tall bridges. I cross the Ravenel Bridge to get to work, which is roughly 83 miles up in the air. Local news estimated the winds at 40+ mph. If that’s the case, I am fairly certain that 50 mph can pick up a Honda Civic up and carry it away Wizard of Oz style.

So we have literally weathered the storm, and hopefully things will be back to normal in no time. I’m sure there will be another tropical storm event in our future. I just hope I get a chance to check out the ocean before I have to catch up with my wife’s evacuation.


Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Charleston. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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