Hurrication 2019

That little low pressure off the coast of Africa turned into a Cat 5 storm that decimated the Bahamas


Not a picture of which I’m fond

Then, it set its sights on us here in the Lowcountry

A week ago, we watched where Dorian would be headed

We refreshed Mike’s Weather Page, Shea Gibson’s forecast, and Facebook feeds where amateur weather enthusiasts indulge their inner Al Roker

I sent a message to some Charlotte pals that they might see us

Hope that they would not

I checked to see if the Southpark Marriott had availability

As we gathered with friends over Labor Day weekend to watch football, have a cold end-of summer beverage, and lament the re-start of the school year, His Excellency Henry McMaster, Governor of the Great State of South Carolina, came on the news to announce that mandatory evacuations of all coastal counties would begin at noon on Labor Day

Well, durn

He really does sound like Foghorn Leghorn

There goes the weekend

Immediately, I made that hotel reservation in Charlotte

I sent another text to our myriad Charlotte pals

Immediate response from one of them, “Good! You’re coming for supper. :)”

Some down the street neighbors were over at the time

We all had to scatter as there were hotel rooms to book, calls to make to family, limbs to remove, furniture to bring inside

From Sunday at 6 p.m., all of us were on heightened alert

The next day, being Labor Day, made for a less than relaxing end of summer

Lanes reversed starting at noon

Franking out

See, e.g., Franking Out, supra

My parents called

Mary Perrin’s parents called

“Yes, ma’am, to Charlotte, if we go anywhere”

Had it just been me to consider, I would have stayed home

But, with two teenagers and a dog, if the power goes out and there’s nothing to do and no one is home, then, it makes for a long slog

Monday dawned hot and bright

We went to the store

A lot

We ran errands

We went to King Street

We ate lunch

We made supper reservations with pals

We talked to friends

We waited

We watched forecasts

We exercised

We went to the office and set out-of-office reminders and did a little work

I was the only one there

We went to supper, pre-storm, at a local Italian joint, which was proud to tell everyone it was STILL open in spite of the mandatory evacuation

“We have a limited amount of Parmesan”

Damn, if this storm isn’t taking an early toll

Tuesday was an even longer day

We turned over the portable basketball goal

We secured as best we could

Dorian was still a powerful Cat 3 and not moving very fast

We moved cars to higher ground

The updated forecast was for 10.3 foot tide with 10-15 inches of rain. That would have caused Hugo style flooding, the worst

A pal who works for CNN sent me a message advising he was heading our way. Not cool. The only thing worse would have been for Jim Cantore to be coming this way, too

All day there were updates and comments

We made the decision to leave on Wednesday morning


Our children were spending the night out, going out with friends, getting together with pals to combat boredom

We helped move generators

We checked in on each other

The one good thing that these storms and evacuations produce is the innate sense of community kicks into high gear

Charleston goes back to being a community instead of a commodity

“Y’all stayin?”

“Y’all goin?”

“Wanna go get a drink?”

“Does the Pope wear a funny hat?”

The Blind Tiger, in existence since 1893, becomes re-populated with local types, even kids from off like me.

We went there on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. with some other local folks. As we were leaving around 6:00, more of we people began to show up, ages 21 to 81. Really. Some wonderful older folks were coming to the watering hole to commiserate over the latest updates

“Oh, I nevah leave unless it’s a Cat Fo”

“We nevah flood”

“Hell yes I’m leaving. I ain’t sittin round the hewse with my wife and chirren all week”

Cold beer

Warm smiles

Lot of ice

Lots of love

From there to the house of friends in the ‘hood

A farewell drink or two or three

“Oh, we aren’t going anywhere”

“I took a page from your playbook and am roasting a chicken”

Always a good plan to roast a chicken, storm or no storm

As we returned home that night, we confirmed that we have the nicest friends

We just do

Friends here, there, and everywhere

We won the friendship lottery

We planned to leave on Wednesday morning after a spend the night for one child and cross country practice for another

We packed the car

The dog food

The dog bed

In 1999, when we evacuated for Floyd, we took silver and artwork with us

This trip, we took bourbon and vodka with us

With age comes wisdom

On Wednesday morning, we went through the first couple of outer bands with dumping rain. Tide was low, but winds were already whipping

Fifth year in a row with named storms hitting us

2015 Joachim

2016 Matthew

2017 Irma

2018 Florence

2019 Dorian

It never gets any easier. See, e.g., Tenuous, supra

We left for the Queen’s City around 9:30 and pulled into the Shake Shack at the Park Road Shopping Center at 1:00 p.m.

Dogs allowed outside

Shack Burgers, Fries


Wish we had a Shake Shack in Charleston

Text to our hostess for supper

“When you want us?”


“Perf. Comin at ya”

To the hotel we went, where they could not have been nicer about waiving the 48 hour cancellation policy and the pet deposit

It’s always good to be in the Old North State where this lady greets us in every elevator:

We took our pooch for a long walk, then, it was off to Capitol

If you’re ever in Charlotte, go by

You don’t have to buy a thing, but it’s so pretty and the ladies who work there are lovely

It does help when the owners are pals

It really does

It also helps when the same owners happen to be at their house preparing our evening repast. It was they who stated we would be coming for supper days before the storm

It also helps when you can just stare at the garden wall in a moment of quiet contemplation

As I chatted with one of the lovely ladies who works there, I heard, “Is that Hamlin O’Kelley’s voice I hear?”

Guilty as charged, Ma’am

I have to apologize to our Capitol pals, as, usually, I am more of a conversationalist

I kept refreshing my phone’s weather app to check the radar

High tide at 1:30 p.m.

All was well

So was the mother of a super famous b-baller who was in there trying on a mauve Grecian goddess get up

She rocked it

After a couple of hours at Capitol, a few purchases, an alteration appointment, and a great time, it was time to leave that high touch experience and go to….Southpark




LuLu Lemon’s

Yes, I call it LuLu Lemon’s

I might add “the” in front of it from time to time

All the usual mall rats

As we walked through that dying shopping medium, our eldest looked at me and said, “It’s hard to go from that immersive experience to …well…this…” as she swept her arm left to right in a gesture reminiscent of Loretta Young entering a room

We looked at everything

We walked a billion steps

We bought nothing

Recon only

We said we would be back the next day

We drove to Whole Foods for some snacks

From there, it was back to the room for another walk of the dog

After refreshing, it was time to head to supper where our host and hostess and their daughter welcomed us as only they can do

Thirty plus years of friendship really does help

I highly recommend it

There are always

Laughs galore

Shared side glances

Amazing foodstuffs

Beautiful tables

Hyperbolic conversations for effect


Bon mots

Side jabs

Golden nuggets such as

“I told one of my friends that I was going to Capitol. She said, ‘All they have there are statement pieces’. I told my friend, ‘What do you know? You only wear shorts and t-shirts.’ Really, I said that to her.”

High fives on that one

“I think there are like 5,000 students at her school”

“[So and So] says it’s the most soulless place on earth.”

“Lizzo? You like Lizzo? Oh, yeh, that makes since, you love Posty.”

“It was $94 worth of salmon. I had to check the balance in our account before I bought it”

“Do you give everyone from Charleston that accent, Hamlin?”

“You know I don’t let anyone help in the kitchen”

“I think these are a little frost bitten, but I think you’ll love them”

“Red or white?”

“How about a little brown?”

“I like the way you think”

“You know, we entertain the same way”


Literally, there is only one person I bro-hug, and he happened to be our host that night

On such evenings, usually I’m the one to keep the wine flowing, but not on a school night with potential Cat 3 about to strike the Lowcountry

More water, please

Hydration is important

Water served in a silver goblet remains one of the highlights of human existence

Putting said goblet against wrists and forehead also remains one of those highlights

We reluctantly said our goodbyes and bid each other adieu

“Send me that list of places to eat”

“Gimme thirty”

“Love y’all”

“Love y’all”

“See you shortly”

“Can’t wait”

Thank you


Thank you

Then, it’s a 5:30 a.m. wake up call from the dog

Walk down to Co-Cola office with said canine

No one is up that early in that part of Charlotte

Not even the paper delivery man

At least it was cool

No humidity

Back to the hotel and a couple more hours of sleep

So louche

Then, I drove to the Starbucks at the Taj-Mah-Teeter on Colony Road

So many wonderful conversations overheard

“Y’all know the [So-and-so’s]? They have a house at Deb-ah-doo and it’s probably going to be destroyed!”

“Ya’ll know the [So-and-so’s]; we hope their Kiawah house is o.k.”

“We just LOVE Charleston”

“[So-and-so] just came home from [The College of] Charleston”

“Well, if he’s at [The College of] Charleston, then he’s gonna come back at Christmas wearing Redwing cowboy boots, kahki’s, Johnnie O’s”

“We just LOVE Charleston”

“Y’all, Charleston is great”

“We just LOVE Charleston”

Yeh, so do we

While we got ready, I checked the radar all morning, especially right before we went to breakfast

We drove over to The Little Spoon on Selwyn for breakfast

Pretty good in spite of its hipness

Highly recommend

The two men behind our table were discussing their respective houses at “the Beach”. As though there were only one beach. One had a house at Kiawah. One at DeBordieu.


Little Spoon satisfied everyone, especially with that big bowl of coffee

When I was growing up, no one would have named anything “little spoon” due to a specific connotation.

I’m not talking demitasse, either

From there, it was over to Tabor, Capitol’s brother store

Another old-home-week-immersive experience

A few purchases for Dad, an hour of great conversation with the folks who work there

Another customer called “Ham”

What are the chances?

More laughter

Purchase of a couple of books at SoCo Art Gallery next door

My children are trying to get us to be a little bit more hip

One accoutrement at a time

We hated to leave those folks, too

Driving through Charlotte’s nicest neighborhoods, we noticed a lot of white paint over brick, large copper lanterns, big leaded windows

Did Sir Edwin Lutyens’ Ghost design all of these renovations?

I think this architecture has had its moment

But, may be not

Then, it’s back to Southpark, and over to the Container Store

“I think we definitely need that,” I say pointing to something

In response I get a wide eyed look of shock

“We got to get out of here, Dad. This place is dangerous for us,” said the youngest child

From there, we took our eldest to meet a friend so that they could be found at fine stores everywhere all over Charlotte

Meanwhile, texting with friends, updates on social media, checking the radar

“Think the storm’s going to come in with the wind out the good side to keep the water out of the harbor”

“Less rain than forecast”

“Starting to blow”

“Gonna be bad between 11 and 2”

“Trees snapping”

“There goes that crappy water oak”

The worst trees ever

Back to South Blvd. area that is up and coming

Coming Soon: West Elm! Sephora!

There goes the neighborhood

Wherever Warby Parker establishes a beachhead, other stores will follow and the funk will depart

We decide on lunch at Superica, Tex-Mex goodness

It being the South, we run into a lovely lady whom we know and her children who have evacuated from the coast, too

One of the best

She has cousins in Beaufort

Hugs all around

“LOVE this so much, seeing y’all”

“They let anyone in this place, even kids from Beaufort, SC”

“Such a treat”

Pretty tasty Tex Mex indeed

Especially that salsa

And that cold unit

We go back for one more round at the mall where purchases are finalized

“O.k., I’ve had enough Southpark”

“Me, too”

We then go and have an extended rest period

We run into some Charleston folks who tell us they went to this super nice store called Capitol

“Do y’all know it?”

May be

May be

They recommend another store

We go there

Should not have

More of an extended rest period

More updates

More news

And, then, this guy. He lost the hurricane for sure

More updates

“How’s the neighborhood?”

“Messy, but dry”

“Not too many trees down”

“Your house is fine”

Off to supper at Bar Marcel

So many Charlotte Moms there

It’s a trope to be explored in full at a later time

They don’t look like our Charlotte friends

But, they look a lot like each other


Good supper, but we’re ready to go home


It’s time

Storm has already moved on

Thought about driving after supper

Up early the next day

The Governor had not lifted the evacuation order, but we’re fighters

We fly down the road as fast as we can

We pulled into our own driveway by 10:00 a.m.

Only a little bit messy around Orangeburg, SC

Everything is a litte messy in and around Orangeburg, SC

Obviously, we weren’t the only ones to leave Asheville, Greenville, Flat Rock, Charlotte, Atlanta, Columbia early

Glad to be home

Glad to have power

Glad to have no loss of life in the Palmetto State

As the old saying goes, “September, we remember”

Snark notwithstanding….hurricanes are existential crises for those of us who are privileged enough to live on the coast. Port towns. River cities. We’re all bonkers, but we send all our love, sympathy, prayers and donations to our friends in the Bahamas.

Oh hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril [who leave near] the sea

3 thoughts on “Hurrication 2019

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