Hurricane

One man stayed in his Daufuskie home that vibrates like a bass fiddle in storms

It’s a cracker house, one he designed and built himself, one that stands on a bluff on the marsh side of Daufuskie Island overlooking downtown Savannah.

It sits on 46 dock pilings — drilled down till they couldn’t be drilled anymore — and is weighted down by 1,100 pounds of hardware.

“Not counting the nails,” Roger Pinckney said Saturday morning, after he’d survived Hurricane Matthew, the Category 2 storm that’s still plodding along South Carolina’s coast — the storm that prompted tens of thousands of people to evacuate Beaufort County.

The storm that S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley worried would leave the Daufuskie underwater.

“Got a neighbor with some water oaks down,” Pinckney said of the damage he’d assessed so far. “I’ve got about 10 million little limbs down all over my yard. ... It upended my dog kennel.”

He hasn’t yet checked on the storm surge — winds of “30, 40 knots” are keeping him close to the house. When they die down, he’ll go check on his neighbors.

Many of those neighbors elected to stay on the island, despite Haley’s pleas, despite two “last” ferries — one at 3 p.m. Thursday, the other at 10:30 a.m. Friday — that departed Haig Point.

Nine people and some pets took Friday’s ferry, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Capt. Bob Bromage said Friday. The island has about 400 residents, and the only way on or off is by boat.

Pinckney reckons the eye of the storm passed over him sometime between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.

It was quiet then. His house — the roof of which is held on by 50 threaded rods — vibrates in bad storms.

“It shakes some,” he said, “but it vibrates, almost like a musical instrument. A bass fiddle.”

A porch wraps around the house. There’s a room on each corner so there’s a cross breeze between them — the house is designed to function without air conditioning. The cracker house design originated in southern Georgia and northern Florida, Pinckney said.

During the storm, winds battered the home. The noise kept him up.

“It’s bad when a storm like this comes through at night,” he said. “It could be racket, it could be nothing.”

Pinckney, who’s lived on Daufuskie 20 years, has written ten books, and he says he’s already started writing about Hurricane Matthew.

“It’s not about the storm itself, but the anxiety that proceeds it,” he said of his work in progress. “The decisions you make. And there comes a time when you’ve got to live with the decisions you make. Because you can’t get off the island anymore. And you hope you’re right.”

As Pinckney talked about the home he designed — its materials, its ability to weather storms — he paused.

“My point is I built it so we could stay here,” he said.

And, on Saturday, Roger Pinckney will stay, until the wind dies down.

He’ll put on a pot of grits.

Get some sleep.

Check on his neighbors.

Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston

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