When Gov. Nikki Haley issued the evacuation order last Tuesday for Charleston, she was about on the third syllable of the word “evacuation” when my wife was on the road.
OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But my wife made it clear to me a while back that, should a hurricane even consider coming to visit, she would not be there to welcome it. Perhaps this is because of her folks living on the Florida coast and having endured several major hurricanes over the years. Perhaps this is because she is no dummy.
Mostly, though, it’s because when the remnants of Tropical Storm Julia came over our house, we sat in our den, rain pouring and winds swirling, and she said, “Nope. Not doing this if it’s bigger than a tropical storm.”
I was very much in favor of this plan. She and our son headed on out ahead of much of the traffic, while I stayed back with my daughter to secure the house.
This was a good call for a few reasons. First, our son is not a fan of storms. I blame this on me, as when he was a toddler I decided to make a mad dash to our car during a thunderstorm. Hey, here’s a fun fact: you know what a transformer getting hit by lightning sound like when it’s about 20 feet from you? It sounds like you are about to die. Yay, fun!
So when storms do come a calling, it’s not exactly his thing. Plus, as with many tasks in life, streamlining your work force makes for a more efficient process. You can only bring one patio chair in at a time, so no need for a traffic jam at the sliding glass door.
Also, this was one time I was going to use teenager apathy in my favor. Our daughter is 16, and (mostly) a quite lovely human. That said, she is also a teenage girl, and often lets her mood drift into the category best described as “whatever.”
But I decided to use this to my benefit. With earbuds firmly entrenched and the soundtrack to Hamilton blaring, the approaching storm did not even enter her mind. She just very efficiently and robotically brought chairs and bird feeders and such inside, occasionally stopping to belt out a line from the show.
It only took a few hours to make sure everything was as secure as we could make it. Lots of folks asked me if I planned on boarding up or taping the windows. Nope. I brought stuff inside, locked up the house, hit the road and hoped for the best.
When we got home, we were pleased to see that our house had been spared of much of the damage. We had a lot of debris in our yard, but nothing that couldn’t be raked up and hauled to the curb.
The process of moving all of the stuff outside was done mainly by me, as I was in the car with my daughter, and my wife and son were about an hour behind us. My daughter wanted to go see a friend, and I saw this as an opportunity to have the absolute most streamlined work force possible. It probably took me 30 minutes, tops, to get my outdoor stuff out of the indoors.
When my wife and son arrived, he was eager to get on his bike and pedal off some pent up energy, which we gladly encouraged. My wife and I actually enjoyed the couple of hours of yard work required to clean up from the storm, as it was a chance for us to enjoy a beautiful day and spend some time outdoors together.
I’m glad that Hurricane Matthew was not as bad as it could have been for us. But I’m also glad we had a good test run of evacuating our house.
When the next storm approaches, I’m confident we know what to do and how to do it. We’ll send half the family on early and tell my daughter to crank Hamilton, because we’ve got things to do.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.