My hurricane stash had magical properties | Column
by The Press and Standard | September 11, 2019 10:25 am
As I write this, Hurricane Dorian has blown into the Bahamas as a massive Cat 5 storm and stalled. It’s unclear what effect it will have here in South Carolina.
You know what they say in Charleston: when the Coburg Cow comes down, it’s getting real.
Well, the cow came down and everyone hit the stores to snap up water, milk and bread. My brother, T-Bob (who lives in South Florida) describes it as “Time to make milk sandwiches!” which is funnier when he says it.
I don’t know about you, but in our house, getting ready for a hurricane is easy: Widdle and I just yell, “I thought YOU bought batteries!” at each other for a week.
Back when I was single and treated my body like the town dump instead of a temple, I’d splash out on hurricane snacks every year: Vienna sausages, Fiddle-Faddle, deviled ham, canned ravioli, sweet rolls, Goetze’s caramel creams, etc. And a few bottles of water, just to make it legit.
Every year, we dodged a bullet and I’d devour all the snacks before Thanksgiving. Secretly, I suspected that my hurricane stash had magical properties: If I stocked plenty of emergency food, we wouldn’t have an emergency. (It’s somewhat disturbing that a 40-year-old college-educated woman would think this, but there you go.)
As far as actual hurricane planning, we’re good at one other factor — deciding whether to stay or go. We stay. For me, it’s a combo of laziness and heredity: Living just four miles from the ocean, my family never evacuated. It was never even discussed.
Dad put plywood over the windows, Mom made sure everybody had clean laundry and a flashlight, we filled the bathtubs with water and let the dogs in the kitchen. Nobody got excited, even though once I distinctly remember water lapping under the back door. Mom and Dad had weathered so many hurricanes — Connie, Hazel, Helene and Donna, to name a few — they just figured God was gonna do what God was gonna do, so why panic?
Random factoid: Since 1850, 47 hurricanes have hit North Carolina, compared to 31 in South Carolina, but who’s counting? Anyone who lived through Hugo, that’s who.
My ex-husband Mr. Smith and I moved to Summerville seven months after that epic 1989 storm, thinking we’d rent a house while we decided where to buy. Hahaha! There was not so much as a rental woodshed within 50 miles. We ended up buying a house in 48 hours, which is only slightly less stressful than stepping into a fire ant mound barefooted.
In the years since then, I’ve met many people who stayed for Hugo, and said “never again.” The family we bought our house from squeezed into one bathroom; the dad held a twin mattress over his children for hours. Another man described hoisting his child on top of a dresser while the water rose to his knees, thighs, waist.
After that, I’d probably leave every time the sun went behind a cloud.
Back to Dorian prep: We have friends who grabbed their toothbrushes and split. Others shrugged and said, “Huh, some rain.” We fall somewhere in between. We bring the plants in, move the boat, top up the gas tanks.
Mostly, we’ll watch Netflix and eat little foil packs of tuna and chicken salad. If the power doesn’t go out, Widdle will make his famous Mississippi Crack Chicken in the Instant-Pot.
I did not, however, buy storm snacks. So if we took a hit from Dorian, it’s my fault.
Julie R. Smith, who did stock up on cashews, can be reached at email@example.com.