Tuesday, September 11, 2018

C Sharp, not B Flat

Almost all of the forecasts suggest that the Beaufort Area is going to be in the preferred southeast quadrant of Florence, with the eye of the hurricane far enough north that tropical storm force winds will be about the worst we can expect. We were about all set to go, with the plan to pick up the cars Monday and get them mostly packed, finish up the prep work Tuesday morning, and head off. We picked up the cars and were gliding along getting things done, me in the cockpit thinking about just when I should start pulling the solar panels. It was around 3 PM, with good amps still flowing into the batteries. I wanted them stuffed full before we closed up Kintala and left her to her own devices. Deb came up from below,

“The Governor of SC just issued a mandatory evacuation order, and we are in it.”

We looked at each other for about 10 seconds, thoughts dancing back and forth between us as often happens with people who have been together for a long time. Then we shifted into full tilt boogie mode. Having shuffled out of FL a year ago, one among millions with a killer storm closing in on our heels, getting out of dodge ASAP was the new plan.

It took about 7 hours of relentless effort. At 10:30 PM the kids were buckled in and we pulled out of the parking lot, the rest of the crew of Blowin' In The Wind following in their own car.  Getting away from Beaufort by auto is mostly done on 2 lane roads, roads that were still mostly empty. It isn’t hard to imagine what they will look like over then next 48 hours, but it will be two cars less thanks to the Governor's declaration.

Hotel mirrors are infinitely fascinating.
So we sit this morning in a hotel room, watching Mother Nature do her thing out in the Atlantic, and wondering what it will mean to us. We know a lot of people are going to get hurt, a lot of others will mark Florence as a, perhaps the, major event of their lives. And the amount of physical damage is almost sure to be astonishing. When we sat through this with Irma, just a year ago, the thought was we were likely to lose everything. At the last moment the storm turned away. This time around it appears Florence will land just far enough to the north that Beaufort will seen nothing but a small storm surge and 30 knot winds.

On the one hand, I have little confidence that it will work out that way. This is a big storm and (in my humble opinion) there is way too much confidence being put into one set of models, with only passing mention being made of those models that show the eye of Florence landing further to the South. On the other hand, we had the resources necessary to move out of harm’s way, and now sit in an air conditioned hotel room, dry, comfortable, food and shelter assured for some of those we love most in the world.

There is a homeless man who lives in the waterfront park in Beaufort. We often see his bed made up on one of the swings when taking an evening stroll before heading back to Kintala for the night. I’ve talked with him a few times. His name, he told me, is “C Sharp” not “B Flat.” I didn’t get the story behind the name but, having recently taken up learning music, I had to smile. (I suspect "C-sharp not D-flat was what he meant but, he made up the name, not me.) Like most of the homeless people I have met, he clings to a fierce independence as one of the tools he needs to survive.

We didn’t see him during our hurried prep to get going. I have no idea how he will fare if Florence moves his way, but I know there are thousands of people who can’t make the choice that we did. That is enough to know that we can count ourselves as among some of the most fortunate people the world has ever known. Sure, we have made some good choices. But they were also choices that were within our reach, but were not within the reach of others.  Something Florence, and Irma before her, has taught me to never, ever, forget.


PhilipW said...

Reading about this in the news is one thing, absorbing your very intimate experience of it is sobering and fascinsting at the same time. Best wishes from Brisbane.

Unknown said...

All the best, y’all. We’re watching and hoping for the best for you and yours.

Deb said...

Thank you for your kind wishes. It’s a bit psychotic this watching and waiting. Wishing we come out unscathed means wishing someone else into harm’s way. Neither is desirable.

s/v Sionna said...

So true. Barb, from La Luna, posted during Irma "Not here, Irma. No, not there either..." It's sometimes all you can do. Hugs.