Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Waiting for the Big Storm

BREAKING: Everything changed drastically late last night with the last shift of track putting us in the bulls'eye. Of course it could change again. We are looking for our safest options.

Ellie Dawg and I walked at dusk tonight, about 48 hours before the expected arrival of whatever portion of Hurricane Florence we receive here. Everything was perfectly still, not a leaf or twig stirring in the slightest. Even the clouds seemed stuck in place, with the moon peeking around the corner of one and just staying there, as if frozen.

It was the calm before the storm.

Most people in the three evacuation zones along the Grand Strand seem to have followed the Governor's order to evacuate. Those are the areas susceptible to damage from storm surge. We are about 5 miles from the Atlantic and not in one of those zones. Nor are we in a flood plain. Our community's storm drains handled 16 inches of rain from Hurricane Matthew two years ago, and seemingly could handle some higher total.

In short, we had the choice to stay or go, and so far we have decided to shelter in place, with our son's support. Our pines trees weathered wicked backlash winds from Matthew of about 90 mph. They bent but didn't break. If the current tracks and forecasts are on the mark, gusts from Florence hereabouts may be about in that range. There are no guarantees, of course, just as there are none when you drive hundreds of miles only to encounter traffic snarls, abysmal housing, and, worst of all, flooding rains from the hurricane gone deep inland, even to the mountains.

If the track changes and we have a Category 4 or 5 bearing down for a direct hit here, we have a concrete encased building a few miles distant to which we -- me, wife, son, two retrievers, and two cats -- can retreat, and hunker down. Right now, it looks like Florence will make landfall near Wilmington, NC, and then slowly head southwest through parts of both Carolinas, spreading tons of excessive rainfall. One blessing here: It's been dry lately and so the ground is not saturated. That's not the case in much of North Carolina and Virginia, where rainfall has been way above normal, putting them at great risk of serious flooding.

Anyway, we have flashlights, batteries, plenty of water, Vienna sausages, tuna fish, corned beef hash, and potato chips. Hmmm, no doughnuts -- maybe I will try to find some tomorrow. The Dunkin' Donuts girls who tell me everything tell me the drive-through will be open tomorrow for coffee and doughnuts. That'll work.

One unfortunate cancellation: Our senior fitness class tomorrow at our Core Fitness Club, which is closed because it happens to be in an evacuation zone. Bummer. I suggested to our teacher, semi-seriously, that we could have class on the beach tomorrow ("Planking With the Sandpipers"), and I could tip off the news media and we could get on TV. But she was having none of it -- and wisely, no doubt, because if she'd taken up any of my goofy ideas the past two years her reputation as a stellar fitness trainer would be in ruins by now.

They say this storm could bring rain all the way through the weekend. That is going to be a big challenge for dawgwalking. Maybe when the winds die down, we will just go walk in the tropical rain and come back and blog about it.

                                             © Robert Gray Holland  (2018)


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