Back in my childhood, when the world was reported in black and white, my Grandfather sat me on his knee and taught me a story. It was a dark and stormy night, the wind blew and the rain came down in torrents. The Captain said to Antonio, "Antonio, tell me a story", and Antonio said ..... "It was a dark and stormy ...... " A recursive story for a recursive occurrence in the lowcountry. The wind will blow and the rain will come down in torrents and today Charlestonians go about their business of getting ready for it.
Our construction crews were out today doing their rounds of checking on rental properties and those we use for business. Closing shutters, shutting off water at properties where empty, removing fragile, hanging gas lamps, testing cellar sump pumps, strapping down garbage bins shutting doors and widows ... the list goes on. Our Folly Beach properties received the most attention with those located beachfront being boarded up to our owners instructions or our request, whichever happened first. Tomorrow our crews turn their attention to looking after themselves and their families.
Charleston has developed a seemingly "Pavlovian" training response in hurricane prep as a result of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. We know what to do, and go about it efficiently and in good time, though it has brought a strange feeling to the town. Most businesses are now shut, barring a few eateries. Weddings are canceled. Some of Charleston's favorite outdoor events, including Second Sunday on King and the Charleston Farmer's Market, have both been called off. The city offices are putting their wind shutters in place and, in low spots along the downtown streets, the flood barriers. Matthew is still 48 hours out but all now seems prepared. How to prepare for a storm has become a routine of sorts, but knowing just what to do brings a certain amount of reassurance.
Police and national guard are out in force. Bridges downtown are manned and you need a good reason to be allowed through. The same goes for Folly Beach. It is quite a juxtaposition seeing Humvee and flack jackets among the flip flops, tattoos and platted hair of the locals. As Matthew nears, more proof of need will be requested before entry is allowed, the goal to keep us and our possessions as safe as they can. Gas stations are closing, most having reached the state of being out of gas. I'm guessing large freighters in the harbor will slip their moorings on tonight's tide and head out, trading for room on the open sea and pitting their speed of 20 knots against Matthew's 9.
Having secured our properties and closed our main office, it's back home to Johns Island. Water is stocked, the freezers turned to maximum lest the power go out. Candles and batteries in hand. Garden furniture will come in tomorrow, if in a hurry we'll throw it all in the pool for now. Storm shutters will also get closed last minute, no point in living in the dark if we don't have to. We were notified that Bluffton has a mandatory evacuation order and Palmetto Bluff, where we also own investment property, is shut for the duration. Many in town have headed out for Columbia, the Upstate and the mountains beyond. A slow silence will descend where so often there is such life and beauty.
And now we wait.
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