October 24, 2016

Hugo 1989 – Charleston Trip

My Trip to Charleston After Hugo

It was a couple weeks after Hugo that I rode up to Charleston with a friend who lived in Fernandina Beach, Florida. His mother lived in Charleston and my friend Sheryl lived in a suburb of the city.

In 1989, Hugo had veered more northeast and mostly bypassed Amelia Island, but it made a direct hit on Charleston. I had kept in contact with my friend until her phone and power went out. The last I had heard was that the authorities were advising everyone to evacuate to near Columbia where there might be accommodations.  I waited and hoped she was OK, but it took a while to hear from her, as you would expect. Keep in mind, we too had evacuated from Amelia Island, and we didn’t have cell phones in those days!

Sheryl had ridden out the storm at home in Goose Creek, and from what she told me later it was something she would never want to do again. One of the reasons she didn’t want to leave home is that she had three cats that she would have had to take care of in a shelter too. I’m sure her thinking was that the cats would be happier in their own home rather than being jolted around in a car and temporarily in a motel. Just for the record, veterans of hurricanes already have a plan on what to do and make their getaways early on. That means, motels fill up mighty fast. You snooze, you lose.

As Rufus and I rode along, closer and closer to the Charleston area we began to see the swath of wind devastation. At one point on SR 17 it looked similar to the blowdown of trees from Mt. St. Helens. Instead of fir trees though, these were pine trees natural in that region. The way they got the highway open was to just cut the trees off near the road and open a path. I had been on this trip before with Rufus and to see these same trees just completely wiped out was shocking. Both of us were wondering just what we would find further on.

I knew from talking to Sheryl that the damage to home in her area of Goose Creek was amazing. When I got there and she and I had a chance to drive around her neighborhood there was debris everywhere. The image that sticks in my memory though is of a tree trunk sticking out of the side of someone’s house. Just like a javelin had been launched into it and it stuck. As you can see from the storm surge map I’ve included from the NOAA site, even far inland the surge had some impact.

All in all, everyone I knew had survived the storm. I did talk to our son about where he was and it turned out he had stayed with a friend in Yulee just off of Amelia Island. After twenty-seven years my memory had failed me. I thought he had gone with us to Tallahassee. My bad.


Escape From Hurricane Hugo 1989

Up Close and Personal with Hurricane Hugo

The Sea Islands, Amelia is the southernmost is...

The Sea Islands, Amelia is the southernmost island. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With hurricane Matthew making a beeline towards the east coast, it brings to mind our own brush with an imminent hurricane threat we had to deal with in September of 1989. We had arrived at our new home base of Amelia Island, Florida in October of 1988. It quickly became apparent that we were in for some different weather conditions than any of us had experienced before. Almost within a week in 1988 we were subjected to the brunt of a tropical storm which set us up for what would be some wild and sometimes worrisome hurricane seasons.

Back to September of 1989…Even after a short time living in Florida we were quickly educated to always keep a weather eye, especially in the fall. We were constantly updated about weather systems coming off the coast of Africa that had the potential to become major hurricanes that could make landfall. So, we had been tracking hurricane Hugo for quite some time when it finally got close enough that we were forced to make a decision to either stay on the island, or leave. We chose to leave. I do think our location to drive too might have been a bit of an overkill, but more on that later*.

For most of the last few days before Hugo made landfall, it was aimed almost directly at Amelia Island. It wasn’t until the day we left and through the night that it’s path was changed and pushed eastward by another weather front pushing east that moved Hugo’s track in that direction as well.

We were living in a rental house that September and all of our belongings we owned were there with us, courtesy of the US Navy who had shipped it cross country for us. That included a big heavy picnic table Jim had built. You know, when you have to evacuate you learn to set your priorities quite quickly. For us, that meant gathering up our important documents, pictures and the cat. It was never more apt a phrase that when you have to get away quickly “you can’t take it with you” applies so well.

When we drove to Florida from Washington in 1988 Jim had put together a small trailer and mounted a cargo container on top. We still had it when it came time to ‘get out of Dodge’ and proved to be a lifesaver so we could add containers, a cooler and tools to it. Inside the car (a Honda Accord) we had us and our cat, along with the cat box and her crate. How quickly we forget…I guess our son Greg rode with our friends in their vehicle.

From that last statement, you can see that we didn’t travel alone when leaving the island. We left town with our old Washington friends and previous next door neighbors, the Hesses. None of us had been in a hurricane before, or knew what to do when we had to leave the island. How far should we go, how far inland would the storm reach? How high could the storm surge be and how far in would it reach? I can tell you, I had visions of our house being swept away and the island being left barren! Hey, I’m a Washington state girl. You know…earthquakes, volcanoes and winter storms.

*Not knowing how far reaching the storm might be, we headed to Tallahassee. It might seem silly now, but because we didn’t get the alert to evacuate until about a day ahead of time most of the motels along the routes were already full. Instead of making tons of phone calls to try to find rooms for all of us close to the island, we just opted for Tallahassee and held our breaths that we would have homes to come back to the next day.

The weather was uncomfortably calm in Tallahassee and in our rooms we were glued to the TV’s hoping for any update about our little island. As I mentioned earlier, Hugo turned northeast and instead hit Charleston almost directly. Amelia Island had been mostly spared from the storm, but we had friends living on the outskirts of Charleston, South Carolina and the wife had stayed in their house with the kitties, while her Navy husband was on his ship that had made its escape from the base and put far enough out to sea to avoid the brunt of the storm. It was about a week later that I found out how our friends had fared in Charleston.

To be continued…

Using Dry Ice To Clean Can Be A Blast

I’m always amazed at the creativity of my fellow humans. When one way won’t work, or is harmful when it’s used, they are brilliant at coming up with a solution that can be inexpensive and eco-friendly. Such is the case when using dry ice blasting methods. Did you know that there are companies that make [dry ice blasting equipment rental] available?

I know what you’re thinking, where can you use such a method? It’s really quite common to see it used in the building and remodeling industry. I’ve even see it used on houses that were eliminating mold from attics and other rooms where it has been found. One episode I watched was of an attic and the operator used a nozzle (many are available, depending on their required use) to quickly and easily remove the black mold that was built up on the sheathing because of inadequate ventilation in the eaves and roof vents.

It was amazing to watch the black mold just disappear and there was no major clean up involved. The dry ice material evaporates and only a small amount of the debris cleaned off the soiled surface is left to vacuum up if necessary. It can be used on coatings such as adhesives, varnish, oil, grease, coal dust, soot, mold release agents and bitumen. As I said, the dry ice material is not left over and there is no detergent type residue either. Industries that necessitate a high degree of hygiene such as the food and pharmaceutical industries will find it very suitable.

Before you begin your next cleaning project you might look into a dry ice blasting rental as an environmentally safe way to go. Operators are not exposed to any toxic materials or fumes, and polluted run-off water is completely avoided.

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Cabinet of Curiosities: Fossils

I love showing off my “curiosities”, although this post may be late to enter in the Blog Carnival Cabinet of Curiosities. In any case, here is my contribution to the show and tell.

My curiosities are millions of years old and they were all found at Main Beach on Amelia Island, Florida between 1988 and 1992. The two teeth are from Great White (Megaladon) sharks and they were found on the same day after a storm churned up the sand offshore and deposited the teeth for this lucky fossil hunter. The more complete tooth of the two was ‘hiding’ under some foam on the beach and as I swooshed my foot over the foam, I could just see a little bit of this big tooth. Now, this isn’t one of the biggest teeth to be found, to be sure, but it is the biggest I am apt to ever find since I no longer live in Florida, but in Washington state.

My friend Ann and I were just strolling down the beach, admittedly hoping to find a huge tooth. We playfully nudged each other out of the way and practically dove to grab any big tooth laying there, which is what we did when I found the tooth on the left. Ziplock bags are a prerequisite for beach combing on Amelia Island, and many days we would haul home a good sized handful of smaller teeth. By the way, yes, that is a full-sized #2 pencil I used for comparison.

The third item in the picture is a fossilized mammoth tooth I found sometime in 1988. It was when we first moved to the island and our friend Peggy, a biology teacher at the high school, identified it for me one night in her living room as we paid a visit after a day at the beach. She slyly said that if I ever wanted to get rid of it, she would love to have it. Ha! Fat chance!

Although my interests for this blog generally turn in the direction of genealogy, I guess we can stretch it a bit and talk about animal fossils instead of my ancestors. If anyone finds my dead end, Miles Yates, I would be happy to trade him for a fossil or two. 😉

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