Hurricane Matthew Part I: Prep

Preparing for the worst, hoping for the best.

“When you pass through the waters I will be with you.  
When you pass through the floods they will not sweep o’er you.
When you walk through the fire you will not be consumed. 
You are Mine, You are precious in My sight.”

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When Hurricane Matthew began spinning in the Caribbean it seemed to be such a distant possibility that we, in Charleston, SC, would be hit.  Typically South Carolina doesn’t see many hurricanes, especially not powerful ones, so we believed Charleston was a safe choice for us for the duration of hurricane season.  This year proved us wrong.  Matthew was going to turn, turn, turn again, turn some more, and appears as if it is going to make Charleston its landing location.  The entry below was typed almost in real-time, as it was started and extended throughout the storm.

“They will not fear bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in The Lord.” 
-Psalm 112:7

Monday 10/3/16:

0630. Vivienne and I took TJ to the airport bright and early so he could go to his work meeting in Lake Charles, Louisiana; dropping him off with an abundance of hugs and kisses.  News was starting to pick up with the possibility of Hurricane Matthew to make landfall in the United States, possibly skirting the South Carolina coast.  Being that I am not from the South and have never been through a Hurricane, I was more than a little concerned but trusting that it could spin off and we wouldn’t get much at all.  However, when I left TJ I did so saying that he needed to be ready to catch a flight back tomorrow, just in case this thing looks like it is going to hit us.  By late afternoon I was feeling like he really needed to look into coming home tomorrow instead of Wednesday.

1215. Play date at the park with our friends.  While Vivienne and her friend played, Gretchen and I chatted about anything and everything–including Hurricane Matthew.  I told her we would be moving the boat Wednesday or Thursday if the storm didn’t change tracks yet again.

Tuesday 10/4/16:

0630.  Why am I awake?  The dogs need walked and Vivienne is still asleep.  Silently I slip out the door with Kai and Missi to run them to the grass and let them “go” before Vivienne wakes up.
0700. On my way back to Te Whakapono I ran into my boat neighbors who told me it changed even more on an Easterly direction and Charleston would be hit.  Great.  I called TJ and told him he needed to catch a flight home TODAY because tomorrow we would need both of us to prep our boat and move her off the docks.  Okay, focus Lane, I need to get Vivienne to school and get on the move to buy water, shelf stable food, a generator, fill fuel cans, fuel the car…
0830.  “Come on, Vivienne, you’re going to be late!  We needed to leave 10 minutes ago!”  This is a common phrase in our house on Spanish school mornings.  It takes us 30 minutes to get there sometimes longer with rush hour traffic.
0900.  I dropped Vivienne off at school, telling her very sweet teacher that she wouldn’t be there Thursday regardless of what the state decides to do because we need to move our boat to a safe location.
0905. The clock begins.  I race over to Lowe’s to see if they have a gasoline powered generator inverter that we can use on the boat in the event that we don’t have a dock when we return.  (It is a very real possibility because our docks were built in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo and are rotted.)
0915.  Lowe’s doesn’t have the right generator.  Their fuel cans and water are flying off the shelves.  People were starting to panic.  Even their driving was becoming erratic and pathetic.
0945.  I drove across Charleston from Mount Pleasant to West Ashley to look at Home Depot for a generator.  Drats.  Nothing.  Not a single one. I’m striking out all over and now I’m starting to freak out a little.
1015.  Arrive at Costco.  The fuel line is incredibly long.  I’ll worry about that later.  I grabbed an oversized cart and ran inside.  Flashlights, pull-ups, bread, dog food, Toast Chee snack crackers because TJ and Vivienne love them, rain boots (not on my list but still cute and necessary), and water.  Lots of water.  Gallons, bottles, sparkling, flat.  I took it all.  Others had the same idea.  Holy crap these checkout lines are long.
1100. Okay, I think I have time to drop this stuff off on the boat before getting Vivienne…as long as I can get the golf cart with a dock cart to take me.
1110. Pulling into the marina I realized there wasn’t a dock cart in sight.  Unusual.  I call the office to ask for a cart and a ride.  They don’t have any carts nearby either.  Okay…I’ll come back later.
1120.  Heading back over to get Vivienne my nerves get worse.  Thankfully TJ is getting a flight home today and will be arriving tonight at 2200.  I’m so glad people understand he has things he needs to do. He located a generator that is still available.  Of course it is at Camp World in North Charleston, another 30 minutes North.  Fantastic.
1200. I grabbed Vivienne from school about 5 minutes early and started the drive to Camp World.  Once I arrive I see they only have a few generators left.  Crap.  Okay, they have one that will work for us.  Yay!! I’ll take it!  To the tune of $1,000. At least we will be prepared if this hits and if not…well, we have a generator.  Jeesh, storm prep is expensive.
1330. Vivienne and I ate some to-go Chick-Fil-A before dropping her off at Play Garden to enjoy some more time with friends while I finished errands and prepped the boat.
1400.  Return to boat and throw new purchases inside.  Dock carts are being hoarded by people in the marina and are hard to find.  I called the office and thankfully one of the awesome workers “stole” one for me and picked me up in the golf cart.  I got on the boat, throwing stuff inside, and starting to take down the bimini top.
1555.  My phone rings and it is our priest, Fr. Jamie, calling to ask if I heard Gov. Haley’s address to the state declaring a state of emergency and her plan to reverse the interstates tomorrow at 1500 so all lanes go away from the coast.  Nope, hadn’t heard that.  Now this place is really going to be a zoo.
1700. Bimini is down and in the guest cabin.  Water tanks and cans have been filled.  Vivienne’s clothing and “valuable” possessions have been packed. Oh crap! I need to get Vivienne!  How long has she even been at Play Garden?  I haven’t even got fuel yet!   Now the lines are going to be soooooo long.
1730. Picking Vivienne up, I am amazed by the long fuel lines.  Of course it is rush hour but lines for gas are so long they are holding up traffic even more.  Gas stations have raised prices since last night by $.10-$.20 and are running out of fuel.  Panic is setting in everywhere.
1800. Arrive at my in-laws to drop Vivienne off until we are done with the boat and get her moved.  Hardest “easy” decision ever.  Knowing there is a big storm coming, my motherly instinct wants her with me as much as possible; yet the nature of our home situation makes it unsafe for her to be with us right now.  TJ and I have a long day ahead of us tomorrow and we need to be able to work quickly.
1845.  FINALLY got back to the boat.  What usually takes 10-15 minutes to drive just took me 35.  People are in full-on panic mode.  I’ve never seen so much traffic on the James Island/Johns Island connector.  (the “rush hour” traffic lasted until almost 9pm)  Before TJ arrives I need to continue packing valuables and some clothing for us.  Need to do some laundry too.  I think we have about two weeks worth in my old army duffle…
2225. TJ’s flight is finally here.  I’m exhausted.  I’ve done so much walking up the dock and packing, taking down of things and still have so much to do.
Midnight. Finally, time to get some sleep…for a few hours.

Note: all the sails are stowed, the bimini is gone, and yes, we still haven’t changed the name decal on the back.  It was on our plan this time around but Hurricane Matthew changed that. 

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Wednesday 10/5/16

0630.  Up an at ’em to get the sails down with help from our boat neighbor/friends, Derek and Kassie.
0930. Sails down.  Jib in forward cabin, stack pack (main sail) tied to lifelines until we get situated.
1000.  Hurricane Matthew Breakfast Club.  We need to use up a lot of our refrigerated goods before we leave our boat.  Eggs, sausage, okra, tomatoes, coffee, and mimosas.
1400.  Leave dock for anchorage.  We decided to head up the Cooper River with our friends’ boat and need to make it under one draw bridge before it shuts down at 1500.
1515. Passing through the Charleston Harbor.  There are no boats and the Charleston peninsula is eerily empty.  Big, beautiful Southern homes on the battery are boarded up and left.  No one is milling about in Waterfront park.
1930. Anchorage set for tonight.  We will readjust in the daylight of morning.  TJ is staying with our boat and I’m heading back to his parents’ house to get some things and come back.
2130.  Arrive at in-laws after stopping at our marina to see how many boats were left and get my car.  Our marina is also a ghost town after the hustle and bustle of the last two days.
2245.  Return to parking area near pickup location for the boat only to find out our dinghy motor is having issues and TJ can’t come get me.  Okay, I could drive all the way back to my in-laws OR I could sleep in my car.  Car it is.  Why do I feel like I’m back in the Army?  Seriously.  Sleeping in a vehicle as a storm approaches.  And where is my woobie?

Thursday 10/6/16

0630.  After waking up every 1-2 hours and texting TJ each time I have heard nothing.  That boy is in trouble!  I call him to find out he slept pretty much like a rock and our holding is good.  Phew, that’s a relief.
0730. Finally it is light and I keep hearing radio reports about closing roads and funneling cars to I-26 to evacuate.  I guess I should head back to the in-laws and get more of Vivienne’s stuff and re-organize the car.  Coffee.  I also really need coffee.
0900.  Return to pickup location and wait for Derek, Kassie, and their friend with an center console boat to take us to the anchorage.  Except TJ decides to pick up and come get me in Te Whakapono so we can offload things a little easier.  Then when our friends return we all head back to the anchorage together to finish setting the boats and leave our floating babies.
1300.  Leave floating babies and head back to land to drive to our safe location.  I cried. Maybe I also had a drink on the way back…
1730.  Arrive at hotel in Walterboro.  It makes me feel nostalgic because my first Army National Guard unit was here.  I actually saw one of my former soldiers working road detail when we drove by.  In many ways I wish I could be there helping but now my place is to take care of our child and comfort her.

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******

For obvious reasons we aren’t positing photos of our boat’s location or how she looks at anchor until this is over.  While we feel she is in a safe area we don’t want to encourage any looters who may want to raid her electronics.   Now the waiting game begins.  We have done all we can, the rest is up to God

Te Whakapono,
The McKelveys

~~All things are possible for those who believe. -Mark 9:23~~

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