I've never had to pack in a hurry and adhere to a mandated evacuation announcement. Yes, we could have stayed. Many did. But we joined the 75% of Savannah residents that left. There were many reasons we left. A co-worker's daughter put it this way, "If there's even the slightest chance any of us could be hurt why would we stay?" My husband put it another: "Do you really want to live for an indeterminate number of days without electricity, water, functioning sewer system or means to cook the food that will go bad in the dead refrigerator?" Both of these were reasons enough to load the car and join the mass exodus on I-16.
My what big teeth you have! PS: the green dot is where I live.
When I was little, I heard about people not leaving during a hurricane. I thought it was rather foolish. OK, OK: stupid. Now that I live on the coast and have had the choice to leave or stay I understand. I didn't want to go. We didn't want to leave. We almost stayed despite the mandatory evacuation announcement. I mean, they couldn't come and force us to leave. But if something, anything, had happened to us (say, a giant oak tree had blown through our bunker of a house and crushed us) no one would have come to help. No. One. All First Responders were under orders NOT to go out in the Category 3 hurricane to save someone who decided to take a risk and fight Mother Nature's evil offspring. That, I must confess, was a bit disconcerting.
The reason people stay is primal. If I'm at home I'm safe. HOME is SAFE. Also, if I'm at home, I can protect it. Protect myself and my family. My castle = my defense. That's why people stay. Not because they're stubborn. Not because they're defiant. Because our homes are created to be buffers from the outside world. And no 115 mph wind is going to change our minds.
Still. We left. We got home around 2:30pm. We grabbed some clothes, several bags of food, a case of bottled water, and -
- and what?
What else do you take when the worst case scenario is that whatever you take is all you have left? That thought was shuddering. Frightening.
These are the things we carried:
- My husband's computer
- My laptop.
- A stack of my writing drafts and research that is not digitized and cannot be reproduced:
You know you're a writer when THIS is what is in your hurricane evacuation bag!
- A framed picture of our cat.
- A picture of my dad in uniform before he left for Vietnam.
- My copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
That's it. That last one surprised me. It's the only book I grabbed. I didn't dare look at the book shelves. How do you decide on one child over the others? It was too much. I was afraid if I looked at them I'd have a breakdown. We loaded up the car and left after I took a picture of the bookshelves and locked the door.
Honestly, I think the main reason I left them was to give me hope that all would be OK and we'd go back to an untouched home.
As I type, the sun is shining and all is peaceful in metro-Atlanta. We've seen pictures of ancient oaks uprooted and laying across the parks and streets. Bodies of our brave dead. Power is slowly being restored. Friends are OK. Tybee Island is still there and NONE of the homes were decimated. It is a miracle.
And now, we wait. We wait to hear if they are letting residents back into the county. We wait to see if the streets leading to our house are re-opened. We wait. We wait. We wait.
The waiting isn't really the hardest part, as the song says. It's the not knowing.
Yours Most Truly: