Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Martin, Nicole, Owen, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tobias, Virginia and Walter.
These are the names to be given to hurricanes in the year of grace 2022.
With a bit of luck, not a single one will leave a bad memory.
No Camille, no André.
Hurricanes have not always had predefined names.
There was the 1873 hurricane that decimated Bluffton and the great Galveston hurricane that killed between eight and ten thousand Texans as it charged from the Gulf of Mexico on September 8, 1900.
I remember 1942, the summer I rode a boat down Savannah’s 52nd Street after a most horrific hurricane knocked down many of the city’s ancient oak trees and caused the streets to flood at high tide, blocking the Savannah River sewers.
The only warning we had of bad weather ahead was yellowing skies, no bird calls, and a local broadcaster who had heard another broadcaster in the hurricane’s path.
If they could, the inhabitants of the outer islands evacuated to the mainland where we all collapsed, waited and endured.
Notice there weren’t the energy efficient homes of today, nothing built of plywood and paper, casually reinforced with 2 by 4 lumber planks, sheet metal chimneys, and glass windows that were almost solid enough to resist a speed bullet.
Homes of yesteryear were brick and mortar, single-glazed south-facing windows for evening breezes had wooden shutters, transoms and high ceilings encouraged air circulation.
Some of the things we did then to deal with the oncoming storms apply today.
“The more it changes, the more it is the same thing”, said Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in 1849, stating the obvious.
So can I offer a few suggestions as we enter the 2022 hurricane season.
Pay attention to news broadcasts. TV weather forecasters love hurricanes. They’re all excited and follow that yellow spot and orange flare using words learned in Basic Weather Terms 101. They have no qualms bumping into each other “Jeopardy!” off the TV screen as they describe what happens on an island thousands of miles out in the Atlantic, showing palm trees shedding their leaves, rooftops blowing away and sailing into the afterlife, once calm aquamarine ocean waters whipped into foam. Downright scary.
Know that they should be taken seriously when Jim Cantori shows up.
For starters, even though gas prices are, well, expensive, consider Half Full your new Empty signal to fill up.
If the hurricane exceeds category 2, even if you live in a solid house, consider leaving.
If you live in a paper house. Leave.
If you live where the road is higher than your driveway. Leave.
If you live where the locals used to hunt with snake boots. Leave.
If you have valuables, take them with you.
The only photo of your great-aunt Susie who left you her collection of Confederate money? Bring the money.
Deed of ownership, last will and testament, car registration, birth certificate, DD214, power of attorney, your checkbook, notarized certified hole-in-one verification. Good product. Put everything in the car. You may not need them, but you certainly won’t want to replace them. Battery? Bring them.
Stop at the bank and get cash. Small bills.
Don’t forget your medications and a way to refill your prescriptions.
Understand that when you leave it may be a while before you are allowed to return, the electricity was probably off and whatever was left in the fridge spoiled and became the experimental laboratory of a biologist.
Buy a paper map of South Carolina. If it doesn’t show where Estill is, don’t buy the map.
Understand that there are dead spots in the countryside where there is no phone reception. Don’t panic. Continue west.
If you stay behind, it’s a whole new ball game.
Bring everything inside. Sandbag to divert water around the house. Climb the storm windows, fill the tub unless you plan to sit there rather than in the brick fireplace. Expect the electricity to go out. If you have a backup generator, good for you.
Remember that if your generator runs on gasoline and not propane, you need to have fuel containers handy.
Don’t have access to a gas stove? Get a portable butane stove, manual can opener and matches.
And you’ll want to have battery-powered lamps, candles, a portable radio, a hatchet, a sense of humor, a super dose of patience, and faith in God.
Go or stay.
It’s the Lowcountry.
Hurricanes or gentle breezes, you gotta love it.
Annelore Harrell lives in Bluffton and can be reached at email@example.com.