As Hurricane Matthew howled outside early Saturday morning, EviCore, the temporary base at the University of South Carolina Beaufort for some of the Bluffton Fire District, was quiet but with an underlying tone of anticipation.
Firefighters began to move about the building around 4:30 a.m. after a restless night.
Some walked to a window shook their heads and turned away.
Others cracked jokes to pass the time over coffee.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
All were eager to get outside to assess the damage.
“... I don't want to speak for everyone but we are trying to be optimistic and hope for the best," Capt. Randy Hunter said around 6:30 a.m. That’s when the decision was made around that time to move back to the district's main headquarters on U.S. 278.
The firefighters were ordered to evacuate to EviCore Friday afternoon after wind speeds reached 45 mph in Beaufort County.
From there, command staff will continue to monitor the storm and send firefighters out once conditions are better.
"Our minds are basically in three places right now," Hunter said. "The job, our neighbors and our families, so we are talking about that.