At first when we heard that another hurricane was heading for Jacksonville, we weren’t in too much of a panic. These threats happen pretty frequently here along the coast, and having lived my whole life in the southeast, I’ve gotten pretty used to them. Update the hurricane-preparedness kit, swing by the store for non-perishable food items, stock up on batteries, candles and lighters, load up the cooler with ice in case you lose power, fill up gas tanks, and load up on bottled water. Easy enough, and done. However, that was not the case this time. Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti, following quickly with the Bahamas, and was showing no mercy as it headed up the coast into Jacksonville, FL (where we live), Savannah, GA (where my friends and family live) and the Carolinas (where more family and friends live). Schools were closed Thursday and Friday, as was my office, grocery stores were running low on supplies, and gas stations were running out of gas. On Wednesday night when it was reported that the storm was still going to be between a category three and four when it made landfall, and that they eye was coming straight for us, we made the decision to pack our important documents, irreplaceable items and clothes for a week, pack up the car, and prepare for the worst. We woke up at 5 a.m. Thursday morning, finished gathering our belongings, secured the house, and hit the road to Atlanta. We had friends who, last-minute, agreed to host us evacuees, pup included, so we figured we’d make the best out of it. We’d been trying to plan a weekend for almost two years to go visit them, so this was our chance, planned or unplanned!
The weather in Atlanta was absolutely beautiful, which was a very welcome change. We spent the weekend visiting some of Alex and Jessie’s favorite spots, sight-seeing, eating, drinking, walking the dogs, and enjoying some much-needed relaxing time with one of Jimmy’s best friends from high school and his wife. (P.s. So crazy to me that they went to high school in Chicago and both ended up living in the southeast. I love it!) I was, of course, obsessed with all of the street art and Living Walls throughout town, and had to get a picture in front of as many as I could!
The drive there was long, but the drive home on Sunday was brutal. We were both exhausted, traffic was horrible, and it took us nearly eight hours to get home. We documented most of our road trip, so if you want more, here you go!
Driving back into town, we noticed several trees that had fallen, fences that didn’t make it, and overflowing ditches. We finally made it home around 9 p.m., and fortunately couldn’t see any damage done to our house or neighborhood. The only obvious changes we noticed right away was the soaking wet door mat in the foyer and the giant spider that welcomed us as we walked inside.
The next morning I did notice that the fence in the backyard didn’t make it, several shingles had blown off of our roof, and our old charcoal grill saw its last day. I took a drive out to the beach with my friend Amanda to see the damage and see if we could help clean up, but surprisingly it didn’t look too bad. The dunes were eroded, sand piles covered the streets, fences and tree limbs sat at the end of the driveway of nearly every home, and the pier had been torn apart, but it was apparent that people had busted their booties to get that place picked up as quickly as possible.
I am so thankful to say that no friends or family were injured, and, for the most part, everyone’s cars and homes are okay (though I can’t say the same for their boats). I am so happy that we got out of town, as did most of our friends and family, and didn’t risk our lives to “watch the house” or “wait it out.” Believe me when I say that even though we did have a nice time on our evacuation trip, I do not take lightly what happened to those who were greatly affected by this storm. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who wasn’t as lucky as we were, and I hope no one has to experience anything like this again.