By Sophie Leigh-Jones, Director, Luxury Simplified RetreatsAs a native Brit, I have experienced plenty of rain, many brisk mornings, some fairly serious flooding and a handful of big storms. However, being an island as the United Kingdom is, we count ourselves pretty lucky that we rarely experience the catastrophic natural disasters which occur elsewhere around the world.
A hurricane is not an event typically experienced by Europeans so it comes as a surprise, and with more than a bit of worry, to say the least. To be in the midst of a serious hurricane is a daunting place to be, and as I sit here in my modest West Ashley house, I am considering my options as a rather large pine tree exists just 5 meters from my sofa!
So what is the status of where we are at one day out? The "eye of the storm" of Hurricane Matthew is not predicted to make direct landfall here in Charleston, however, the powerful winds, subsequent tidal surges and high rainfall totals are what makes the hurricane a frightening phenomenon. Tidal surges are expected to be high and as a result, areas at the coast are now under full evacuation order. Whether Charleston is to experience a category 2, 3 or 4 hurricane remains unclear but what we do know is the sheer damage this storm has caused up till now. The storm doesn’t appear to be losing power as it heads northwards and the sluggish speed of Matthew's movement is leaving a devastated path behind. The storm is tracking at an excruciatingly slow 12 mph which has made the waiting for it's arrival all that much more unnerving.
How is Charleston holding up? Well, it is safe to say that those who remain are living in seemingly a ghost town. The daily buzz of this vibrant city has gone and the constant stream of tourists, often joyful in their discovery of Charleston SC for the first time, are nowhere to be seen. Homes and businesses are boarded up, shops are closed and driveways are empty. There are few cars on the roads and the air is starting to swell as winds increase. The temperature is the lowest it’s been for months – but hey, I’ve turned the AC off so every cloud does indeed have a silver lining! We have prepared in all the ways that have been outlined by both hurricane preparedness guides and the advice of friends and neighbors who have sheltered in place before.
What will tomorrow bring? Well that is a question that remains unanswered. At this point, decisions have been made as to whether to stay or to go. This evening will see the last of the evacuees - nobody wants to be in a vehicle when the beast named Matthew hits. I will be moving from here to stay with my family on Johns Island, well away from the towering pine tree in my yard. We will close all our shutters, drink some beer, have our last cooked meal before the power inevitably turns off and brace ourselves until whatever happens, happens. This I suppose, will be the proverbial "calm before the storm."
So we will keep you posted but for now, good luck to our beloved city of Charleston.
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