Hurricane baby born after young parents evacuated Hilton Head

Annslee Carlyle Poosner
Annslee Carlyle Poosner Submitted

Matthew Pooser’s Hurricane Matthew story has a biblical plot.

He evacuated from Hilton Head Island to the land of his upbringing with his wife, Lee, great with child.

And it came to pass that they had a hurricane baby.

Annslee Carlyle Pooser was born in a hospital in Huntersville, N.C., at 8:17 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7.

She checked into this world at 7 pounds 6 ounces at the same time Hurricane Matthew started knocking in earnest on their door back home in Heritage Woods in Sea Pines.

Tuesday morning, as the couple prepared to take the baby to an unknown pediatrician for her first check-up, the Poosers still did not know how their house fared in the hurricane.

But the hurricane baby who arrived right on her due date was just fine.

“This is going to be one heck of a story in a few years,” Lee said.

It started brewing a week before the evacuation. Matthew started worrying when he saw models of Hurricane Matthews put Hilton Head in its path.

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, they had their scheduled visit with their obstetrician.

That’s the day Gov. Nikki Haley warned everyone on the coast that they’d need to flee by 3 p.m. the next day.

The doctor laid out a couple of options.

They could check into the hospital immediately. They could induce labor. And they’d have a baby in hand for the evacuation.

Or, they could evacuate and find a room near a hospital.

The Poosers opted to head to a friend’s house in North Carolina, near where she grew up in Mooresville and he grew up in Cornelius.

Evacuation was new to them. They moved to the island in June. He checked whether their insurance was good in North Carolina, and they opted to leave Tuesday night as lines started snaking from every local gas station.

When the two boys — Stephen Gaskins, 12, and Peyton Gaskins, 10 — got home from school, they heard the plan.

“How come you didn’t tell me we had a Category 4 hurricane coming at us,” one asked, starting to cry.

“I think it was the not-knowing about what was to come,” Matthew said. And it was a concern for the fate of his video games.

They all loaded into the Ford Explorer, with food and water in case they got stuck in traffic: the father, the mother great with child, two boys and two 3-year-old rescue dogs, Doc and Cash.

By the time they got to Columbia, Lee was having contractions. And they hit a backup in traffic due to nighttime roadwork on the freeway.

Matthew was fretting and Lee, who has been a nurse, was timing the contractions.

She was grabbing her stomach, but insisting they press on.

“We had heard that a change in barometric pressure could do that,” she said later. “And it could have been the stress and anxiety.”

The arrived north of Charlotte between 1 and 2 a.m. Wednesday.

“We all held it together,” Matthew said.

Two days later, Lee’s water broke.

Now the oldest brother is “smitten,” she said. The younger one is overly excited.

And as Lee ponders these things in her heart, she says, “Hurricane Matthew brought us pretty much back home. It was actually nice to be here with family and more friends.”

David Lauderdale: 843-706-8115, @ThatsLauderdale