Hanna stressing you out? You're not alone

September 3, 2008 

They say the novelty of riding out a hurricane ends about the time the water rises to your Adam's apple.

Maybe that's why a Walgreens on Hilton Head Island was filling prescriptions Tuesday at three times the normal pace, and why there was a run on water and batteries. That's how we act when a hurricane is swirling out there and the National Hurricane Center projects its path to basically end right at our front door.

We dig out South Carolina road maps, looking for towns we can occupy. Is Yemassee too close? Is Aiken too far away? What are the nice hotels in Bamberg? You know, elegant places where dogs and cats are welcome.

I've been going through this turmoil since we evacuated for Hurricane David in 1979. I hate to report this, but it never gets any easier.

The stress is now fed by round-the-clock television pictures of hurricanes spinning into land masses. It doesn't help that one of the weather television guys now wears swimming goggles while he reports from the eye wall of a hurricane. This tends to alarm parents who call to ask when we're going to flee to the Rockies, only to be told we're staying close by to cover the story.

Several times, we've evacuated as a Packet team, even setting up a complete, computerized newsroom in a Best Western motel.

One time our motel was full of gnarled tree-trimming crews. They apparently get dispatched from one potential disaster to another. It was like a drunken chainsaw convention. After a while it dawned on us, "You know. This has all the ingredients of a horror movie."

Lately, Beaufort County has dodged the real horror show that hurricanes can be. There were some big blows before the island got developed. And the great storm of 1893 killed thousands in Beaufort County and ruined what little economy there was, but gave us the first national recovery effort led by Clara Barton.

We've seen what Hurricane Hugo did right up the road in 1989. We saw how helpless mankind is when water starts rushing in. We saw shrimp trawlers tossed ashore like toys. We saw flat lots where houses used to be. We saw forests full of pines snapped in two.

That's why weeks like this are so stressful. It's hard to cope with the idea that our world could get wiped out -- like, tomorrow. And you wonder why you'd spend your last day in paradise standing in line for a pack of AA batteries. So you pack up the dogs and cats and Xanax and head for Bamberg.

Always live to see the sun shine again.

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