I’m back home, and earlier than expected.
We spent a lovely week in Tybee Island, off the coast of Georgia (about a half hour from Savannah). We ate shrimp, hung out on the beach, and played a lot of games. It was delightful.Then, Wednesday night, some of the folks in our group started worrying about the hurricane that seemed to be coming right at us. I wasn’t worried- after all, it was days away, and we were supposed to leave before it even got near us. (And, I’m from the Midwest, where we tend to under-estimate the threat of extreme weather. Oh, there’s a tornado siren going off? Let’s go outside and see if we can find it!)
We all went to bed on Wednesday, (me, convinced that everything was fine, and everyone else convinced the opposite) and got up the next morning for a nice trip into Savannah for brunch, a nice wander through the little shops and maybe a beer or two at one of the local brew-pubs.
But, Savannah was dead… like, creepily empty. We were the only people in the restaurant we had lunch in, and we saw tons of people outside of hotels with their suitcases packed, grabbing taxis to get the heck out of there.
While we were having lunch, our waiter informed us that the governor had declared a mandatory evacuation for the whole area, starting Saturday. Crap!
We all scrambled to get new flights out of Savannah, with varying success. (My husband couldn’t get through to the ticket counter, so we ended up just buying new tickets. Luckily, the airline refunded those later.) One couple managed to get flights out of Savannah, but everyone else had to drive to Atlanta (4 hours away when there isn’t evacuation traffic) before we flew home. (And then, on Saturday the couple flying out of Savannah ended up having to drive to Atlanta, too, because the Savannah Airport closed!)
It was crazy, driving down the highway in bumper-to-bumper traffic with cars filled with families and pets. We tried a couple times to stop for breakfast, but every time we did, the lines were insanely long, so we grabbed bad gas station coffee and made do.
After a stupidly long wait at the airport (I think we were there about 6 hours early, since we had to leave Tybee early to beat the 8 AM evacuation order), we flew back home. (Our bags didn’t make our flight, so we had to go back to the Seattle airport on Saturday to pick them up, but we were just happy to be home.)
It was a surreal ending to a nice beach vacation. I’ve never been a part of an evacuation like that. The weirdest part was that the weather on Tybee kept getting nicer and nicer as the warnings became more and more dire, so it really felt like everyone was worrying more than they needed to. Of course, I suppose the Georgia officials know more about hurricanes than I do.
I’m glad everyone in my group made it out unscathed, and except for being a little bummed out about losing the last few days of vacation, we’re totally fine. I can’t help worry about all the nice people we met, and all the locals living and working on the island, and wonder what they’re doing during the storm. I hope they make it through all right. (I’m writing this on Sunday, so Irma hasn’t made it that far yet, and maybe she won’t- the current predictions have moved her path a little further inland from where we were staying, so maybe they’ll be OK. I guess we’ll have to see.)
If you want to help with what will surely be a tough recovery, think about donating to the Red Cross, or a local food bank in the affected area.