Many of you who read my blog or have read my blog know I am a die hard Packers Fan and have been my whole life. I titled this blog 4th and 26th because it is a reminder of how close the Packers to winning the NFC Championship and with 4th and 26th, blew it with a Brett Favre interception and the Eagles won the game. I use this reference when things get really bad, I don’t use it lightly it is a painful memory for a Packers Fan and I don’t like to think about it. However CEMA, State Government and our local officials 4th and 26th Hurricane Matthew.
I touched on this a little bit in my previous post regarding the delay of evacuation and how long it took to give the order to evacuate. The Mayor of Tybee Island, Jason Buetlerman is a rock star and needs to recognized for taking matters into his own hands and not waiting for CEMA to issue the Mandatory Evacuation order. He told his citizens to get out and many did. The school system cancelled schools Wednesday – Friday in the beginning and many thought they were jumping the gun. However both of these decisions were made because they valued people’s lives and really didn’t care if they mad people mad because they were promoting the general welfare!
Friday was a blur, we had evacuatees from Hilton Head Island, SC that were coming to stay at our property because even the essential personal had been evacuated. The Fire Department all week said they were parking boats on our dock, then Friday morning they said no, the boats had been moved to dry dock and the information I was given was wrong. We got over 30 police officers because the Emergency Response Team messed up their reservations in the Historic District. I personally was very happy about that development because we had First Responders at the hotel. We moved so much stuff inside in the rain it was ridiculous. Everything was inside and we even moved some items up, in case of flooding. There was a time I really thought, I think I made a poor decision on staying. I did stay and surprisingly I slept through some of the Hurricane, wind and rain put me to sleep I can’t help it. Saturday morning, I woke up and Reeva had to go to the bathroom, so I took her outside with 90mph winds and rain, she was not happy. Once the sun came up we could start to see damage, the myriad amounts of trees down and trying to figure out if my house made it. I received the first report with a photo around 9am. We had damage, the gutter and the eaves were down in front and the fence was down but my neighbor couldn’t tell how much damage was done.
CEMA reports were conflicting and confusing, the hurricane is over however 97% of Chatham County has no power, flooding and so many trees down people cannot safely get around. Any news conference that was taking place by CEMA, every Local Government Official looked confused and mumbled their way through the conference. On Saturday there was no time table on when Residents would be let back into their neighborhoods. CEMA had begun Stage 1 (First Responders, Electrical Companies, Water/Sewage People) of a 4 Stage Plan. Stage 2 (essential City Personal) would be implemented probably Sunday or into Monday. Everyone waited for news and photos to come in on what the damage was like. As someone who has lived in Savannah for 18 years I can say it was heartbreaking on seeing the photos. Sadly there was one death, a gentleman stayed behind to protect his house from looters, he sent his wife and two young children to evacuate. A tree fell on his home killing him while he slept. I cannot even begin to fathom what it is like to lose a husband and my home in a period of a weekend.
Sunday morning the first CEMA Conference states they are going to begin Stage 3 (Residents beginning to be let back into neighborhoods with ID) at 5pm. Most of the city did not have power when this was implemented. I texted my neighbors and asked if my house had power because I was leaving as soon as I had power. Around 11:30am there was another announcement from County Officials overriding CEMA’s decision stating they were beginning Stage 4 (welcoming everyone, no proof of residency back into the city) at 5pm. The streets in many neighborhoods were impassable, lights were not on in much of the county, and there were still roads that were flooded. This infuriated me, I have not seen my home (or family) in 5 days and now I will have to deal with tourists thinking my house is a tourists attraction (more on that in a moment). Around 1pm I received a text from my neighbor stating we had power. I decided to try to make my way to my house. I drove across a bridge that had not been inspected and proceeded down Oglethorpe Avenue. Driving down Oglethorpe I was shocked there were so many trees down, I actually pulled out my phone and Live Streamed my drive home on Facebook. My normal 15 minute drive took almost 45 minutes between down trees and stop lights not working. I pulled into my driveway and saw the gutter, then I started investigating the rest of the house. The back fence was damaged, the roof was missing caps and had some buckled shingles (my two year old roof, needs repair or replacement), there is water under the house about 6″ which means the sump pump died and the side porch was compromised (I just added shelves and painted it this spring).
We were lucky I have a house that is livable, there are many who do not. I decided it would be in my best interest to take two days off to start the process of cleanup. However you can’t touch anything until the insurance adjuster makes his/her rounds. So I decided to clean the inside of the house. I cleaned my dreaded pantry, I took everything out, sorted and put back what I wanted to keep. As I was doing this yesterday, Reeva started going bonkers. I looked out the window and there was some guy in the middle of my yard taking photos of my house. I went out on my porch and asked him if he was with my insurance company, he said no. Well I kind of snapped, I chased after him, stood in front of his car, pounded the hood of his car, they finally put their car in reverse and left. Not something I am proud of, however 5 days of anger, frustration and betrayal from our local government came out. I am pretty sure the couple from West Virginia in the little white car (didn’t even notice the licence number or the model of the car) will never forget their experience in Savannah. First of all what in the world were they doing there taking pictures of other people’s misery. This is why the city should have waited for Stage 4, give people like me a chance to digest what happened. Instead I am dealing with jerks in my Lantana bushes (one of my only plants that receive no damage) because my house sustained damage and I can’t remove anything until the insurance adjuster comes.
Another conflicting report was CEMA said we had to boil water. City Officials stated these are rumors that CEMA tweeted. I was always told to boil water after any type of Natural Disaster, so I was am still am boiling my water because I do not trust anyone in our government. Seriously are there any adults in charge? Our nonexistent governor is patting himself on the back for a job well done. I’m sorry Governor Deal but I have not seen you in the neighborhoods in Savannah with no power, meeting with residents who had homes destroyed. This is not a photo op, these are your citizens, the people who sent you to office are suffering. It is not fine here, yes the power is back on and things are slowly returning to normal. However there are still numerous people without power and numerous people who need to rebuild everything they have worked so hard for. We don’t want press conferences or photo ops, we want reassurances that we aren’t going to get screwed by our insurance company so we can rebuild.
As for our local leaders, shame on you, the in fighting between all aspects of local government is shameful. We elected you to keep us safe, give good reliable information and to keep a cool head during a crisis. CEMA was a joke, as well as our County Chairperson Al Scott and County Commissioners, expect Mr. Kicklighter because he sounded the alarm on Social Media, Wednesday he disagreed. It was obvious there was in fighting however, it is called being an adult and putting the general welfare before your own self promotion. If I was a State or County Official or anyone in any kind of local government, I would be absolutely embarrassed by how everything with Hurricane Matthew was handled. Honestly, it would not have surprised me if our Governor said, “Brownie your doing a heck of a job,” it has been that big of a FUBAR from a resident stand point. People say we learned lessons from Katrina, it was apparent that our local and state governments were asleep while there was 24 hour news feed of New Orleans. We did have small victories regarding the loss of life, in this area there was only the one gentleman. Which they have already started tooting their horns and making that the focus. It doesn’t matter it was 4th and 26th, the other team scored on the interception and we lost the game. We made it to the NFC Championship Game. This is how I see this whole thing, it was crazy, convoluted and the city I love took a very bad hit and it will take time for her and the surrounding areas to heal. I wish we as a community would have had a couple days to reflect on what happened to us before tourists come by with their cameras taking photos of other people’s misery.