Friday night we felt Hurricane Matthew’s impact as it made landfall just to the north of Charleston harbor. The afternoon had brought its forewarning with rain bands and wind slowly building to make their point. After 3 days of waiting and wondering, in a strange way it was a relief to finally be in the fight. Perhaps of greater relief was that his journey over an extended coast had generated significant wind shear and as such his strength weakened and in turn, his roar diminished. Writing this in dawn's early rays, the howl of his rage seems hollow.
Tropical Storm Hermine blew through South Carolina a few weeks back, she stripped out the deadwood and the weakening trees in her path. For our Johns Island neighborhood at least, it appears that Matthew was left with slim pickings. His last throw of the dice was at 3:00 am when flying debris hit the house and two downstairs doors flew open. Dawn was soon joined by the scream of buzz saws and we ventured out, lest Johns Island Fire Dept. work alone. Roads were passable by 12:00pm - the glory that is the "all-purpose American truck" has its uses.
Power is out but that’s not unusual on the Barrier Islands. No TV, as you might imagine, has a habit of improving conversation. More worrying was the tidal surge, predicted at 4-6 feet and we live on the marsh, like most of us locally. It’s a combination of the tide height and surge that builds the threat and in that regard, timing is everything. High tide was at just past midnight and Matthew’s arrival was late, hitting us finally at about 2:00am on the falling tide. Having said that, we are flooded substantially, but it's confined to our grounds. The lake to the rear has risen 4 feet overnight, a good deal more than the rain we had, so the tide has been playing its role. The Stono River is brackish hereabouts (a combination of fresh water and salt water) so with all the rain we should be free from salt that would otherwise kill everything.
Reports from downtown on the peninsula are not so good, heavy flooding making it substantially impassable. The major roads are cordoned off and we will leave the investigation of our downtown properties for tomorrow. Most roofs seem in reasonable condition on the pictures we can access so there is hope damage is minor.
Life will soon return to normality but for us the memories will remain. Memories of neighbors coming together, of our hurricane party on the banks of the Stono River joshing over who gets to pick the next song as the wind slowly built, of checking in over the radio as the power spluttered, and helping each other prepare moving and tying everything down that could possibly fly away. Offering safety and shelter should the worst happen. We banded together in our moment of need and it was good.
In circumstances like these it's easy to believe all that matters is your own situation and we have not forgotten those who saw Matthew first, or those locally who may have seen him in a different light, and have suffered more significant damage. In truth, that act of neighborly brotherhood will be my takeaway from this whole episode. Thank you our readers for your messages and support over these last few days.
Welcome to Charleston and the lowcountry. No one ever complains of boredom in these parts.
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