Hurricane season is a roller coaster of emotions to many people in the Lowcountry. One minute, the storm is heading right toward us, and the next it’s turning back out to the sea.
We can’t let down our guards because oh, look! Here it comes at us again. We hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
We have a past with these monster storms. Those of us who have been here long enough saw what Hurricane Hugo did to Charleston in 1989. We saw the devastation Hurricane Matthew left on Hilton Head Island in 2016. We saw the damage left behind by Irma in 2017.
To me, hurricane season is a reminder that life is uncertain and we never know what tomorrow holds. The threat of a hurricane coming for us gives me a sort of apocalyptic feeling, a sense of urgency and a need to prepare.
We start wondering where our insurance paperwork is, making evacuation plans, and packing up our favorite photos and keepsakes. We load up on water, batteries and hurricane snacks.
We gas up our cars and refill prescriptions. And we ponder the same question every time – should we stay, or should we go?
When the governor issues a mandatory evacuation, we are asked to go on a “vacation” we cannot afford, to a place we never wanted to go, at the most inopportune time.
I usually start experiencing hurricane anxiety, or “hurricanxiety” as I call it, around the beginning of August. I have nightmares about flooded homes, trees on top of houses, and forgetting to pack the wedding album and baby photos.
But this year, I decided not to get emotionally involved in hurricane season. It’s a bumpy ride no one wants to get on, except maybe storm chasers and meteorologists.
So, when Hurricane Dorian first showed up on the radar this season, I did not panic. I did some preparation and packing, but decided to keep on living my life, with the possibility of evacuation in the back of my mind.
The hurricane memes on social media this year were a big help to my sanity. Instead of focusing on all the “what-ifs,” I shared those suckers like crazy, giggling my way through weather updates and alerts.
Unfortunately, the memes were no consolation after Dorian pummeled the Bahamas. The giggles quickly turned to tears and prayers.
And when we were given the OK to return home, we were grateful for God’s mercy and for all the blessings along the way. The safe travels, the free place to stay, the new friends we made and the protection from the storm.
Was it wrong for me to share those silly memes when people were losing their homes or dying? I consider myself a pretty sensitive person and would never consciously hurt anyone.
But my philosophy in times of crisis is that if I don’t have a sense of humor, I will go right back to that place of worry and nightmares. It’s OK to cry, but we can’t stay there in that grief forever.
Plus, if you have kids, you don’t want to pass on the anxiety to them. Instead, make the most of things. If you decide to stay home, break out the board games and make it a hurricane party.
If you have to leave, sell it to the kids as a fun road trip. It might not be so much fun after 15 rounds of “Old Town Road” in a cramped car with two kids, a dog and a guinea pig, but in the end, you will be grateful.
You will be exhausted and annoyed and broke, but you will be grateful.
Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.