I have lived in Savannah for 18 plus years we have had some scares (2004) and only one evacuation before today that was Floyd in 1999. I did evacuate for Floyd in 1999 it was an adventure to say the least. I was 2,000 miles from home since I lived on my own and not in the dorm, so I was on my own to get out of Savannah. Even though I worked as a front desk night supervisor at a hotel, I was 19 and couldn’t legally rent a hotel room in Georgia, not that I could find one anyways. I ended up driving with a friend to Augusta and we spent three days on his sister’s friend’s floor. Guess what nothing happened. In 2004 I spent almost two weeks in a hotel waiting for the evacuation orders that never came. My husband (then boyfriend) worked for a solid two weeks at the station on around the clock duty. It was always a grand opportunity to rack up on the overtime and boy did we rack up.
In 2005 Katrina happened and changed everything. I worked at a hotel in Savannah and was assisting the Holiday Inn in New Orleans to relocate guests and find them transportation out of NOLA. Then the devastation happened and a whole new ballgame came into focus, finding places for people who lost everything. The most heart-wrenching part was a bus with 50 plus kids and 3 adults ended up in Charleston, SC. The kids were confused, scared and I was getting a phone call from the GM at our sister property asking me to find out what happened. I made several calls to the Red Cross trying to find these kids families. Finally several hours later, the bus arrived in Charleston which was originally routed to Nashville, however the people on the bus were extremely convincing and the drive drove them to Charleston.
When we purchased our house in 2007 we knew we were in a flood zone and would be evacuated if and when the time comes. We also knew there would be a very good chance that our house would not make it through a major hurricane. Savannahians in general joke about hurricanes, we throw parties, we make sure we have alcohol because that is what we do. When Hermine came through earlier this year it was looked at as a joke, every bar in Savannah had hurricane parties. We made preparations securing stuff but many, myself included didn’t think it was anything. It was like so many before it was a quick storm, lots of wind, rain but that was it, business as normal.
The first time I heard anything about Matthew was Monday, as many I laughed and went on with my business. Tuesday night is when everything changed, South Carolina was being evacuated and so was Florida. What? Okay maybe this is going to be bad but Georgia hasn’t done anything and we are in the middle of those two states. Then a State of Emergency is issued, okay but still no evacuations. I talked with Jeff and he agreed to take the kids and get out of dodge. I still had to work so I stayed behind with Reeva. Wednesday, South Carolina has begun evacuations, Jeff and the kids are on their way north and west. The Islands are finally starting to evacuate Wednesday. The word comes out that the Islands will be under a mandatory evacuation beginning at 8am, Thursday. I decide to hunker down at the hotel because it is far safer than my house is. I packed up Reeva, got provisions (wine, wine and doggie drugs) and moved to the hotel.
Word finally came at 9am on October 6, 2016 that CEMA was finally issuing a mandatory evacuation of Chatham County. There are numerous problems with this many people who wanted to leave early couldn’t because their bosses wouldn’t let them without a mandatory evacuation. For the record I could leave at anytime, however having been through several storms and an evacuation I felt my services would be far more useful at the hotel helping others get out of the city. We had to relocate the house, which is quite difficult when 2 states have already ordered their evacuation orders there are no lodging anywhere from Charlotte to Atlanta. I will say someone was looking over us because we were able to find rental cars and hotel rooms for all the guests who needed it.
My family (husband excluded) don’t quite get why I am not leaving. It is currently 5pm on October 6, 2016 all lanes of I-16 are going west, however where am I supposed to go? There are no hotel rooms or gas (yes I have a full tank) but that can only get you so far and you have to fill up again. The rain is starting, it would be more dangerous for me to start driving with the traffic than to stay at a hotel that was built to hurricane code. Would I rather be with my kids and my husband, of course. However I was needed here to relocate guests and to help co-workers who were trying to leave. I can say if that evacuation order was given before today, most of us would have left. I know several people who are riding it out, some in places that concern me, others not so much – I mean I am concerned for everyone but if someone is downtown opposed to the islands, I think the downtown people will be better off because they are higher.
Am I rambling, yes, yes I am, it infuriates me that they didn’t do anything until today. I think if they had issued the warnings before 9am today, more people would have gotten out. For those of us who have decided to stay keep us in your thoughts and keep my beautiful Savannah in your thoughts as well. It is going to be a very long weekend.