Celebrating the Quick Return to Normal

Celebrating the Quick Return to Normal

We wanted to take a few minutes to celebrate the fast return to normal island life after hurricane Matthew.  The storm passed through on Saturday, the island re-opened to those with their own boats Sunday evening, and both ferries were back in service by Wednesday.  Although this wasn’t a category 4 hurricane when it hit, we prepared for a direct hit from a Category 4 hurricane, and undoing all that preparation takes time.  The ferries were removed from service and taken to the boatyard in North Charleston where they would be more secure.  The buildings were secured with boards and shutters, even on top floor levels.  The vehicles were all removed from the dock area. The utility prepared for outages. (And they were incredibly prepared for repairs: it was AMAZING how fast they got Lake Timicau lane back open.)

hurricane Matthew
Landings building shutters

The staff came over to the island on Sunday to assess damages and make a plan for getting things back to normal.  They found roads that had been overwashed, trees down on several roads, a washout deeper than the pickup truck on Lake Timicau lane, and debris around.  Screens were blown out at Huyler House, but otherwise the buildings seemed in good shape.

hurricane matthew on Dewees island
wrack on the main dock

Myrtle dock and Timicau dock, as well as the floater at Lone Cedar, were all unusable. The main dock, fresh from last year’s repairs, was in excellent shape. (My post from Sunday evening shares our vast relief that the storm hadn’t hit at high tide, and our continued appreciation for the good engineering design of the roads and homesites of the island.) And on Monday morning, when we headed over to the island, the staff was already hard at work.  The Parker was back in service, and returning residents were on the first run.

grateful residents returning from Hurricane Matthew
grateful residents returning from Hurricane Matthew

The crew and volunteers cleared the ferry dock of the washed up debris that was on the seats and surface of the dock landing.  The shuttles were back at the dock almost immediately.  The staff was out with the pick-up and the chipper getting fallen trees off the roads.  Barges were scheduled with 18 truckloads of road repair material, which arrived over three days.

hurricane matthew

Residents organized a few work parties to clear the parking lot of fallen debris, and Joey Riser, a deckhand, brought his truck to get the debris out to the road for pickup by the town.  He also stayed very late after his shift using a leaf blower to get the parking lot incredibly clear. We put together this quick video showing all the teamwork, and we know we only saw a tiny percentage of what was accomplished:

Over at Dewees Rentals (and elsewhere on the island) they were busy getting shutters off houses and making sure everything was up and running for a full house on the weekend, because there was a wedding scheduled for Saturday.  Golf carts had to be retrieved from safe spots, shutters had to come down, screens had to be secured and hopefully repaired, etc.  Given that my house STILL isn’t put completely back together (more than two weeks later) I can’t imagine the stress of getting this done.  The whole staff was also busy getting things ready: repairing screens, getting Huyler House prepared, etc. Everything came off without a hitch, which is pretty unbelievable considering that the ferries weren’t back to regular use (all of them) until Wednesday. Even the weather was perfect.

So, by the end of last week, when the dust had settled and everyone had gotten some sleep, we needed to celebrate.  An impromptu thank-you lunch was thrown together (on behalf of all owners) for the staff, and a few homeowners helped put it together and served.  Here are some photos from that event. (photos courtesy A. Anderson.)


It was a delightful day!  Balloons “shouting”  Thank You waited at the front door where 16 of our staff were guests by Dewees owners.  The dining room was set with tablecloths and decked with flowers.  Aproned owners served a fitting Low Country BBQ with all the trimmings.  Desserts were key lime pie and a trio of home baked goodies by Jan McAlhany–always a very special treat!
A jolly atmosphere filled the conversation around the table.  As the last bits of cookies were enjoyed, Anne Anderson expressed appreciation for all owners of the commitment to Dewees shown by all members of the staff over the past 2 weeks and acknowledged their hard work and long hours spent in readying the island after the storm.  Cecily Hines and Tom Pettus thanked them for the extra burden they shouldered in preparing for the wedding on top of the cleanup required by Matthew.  Each person introduced themselves and told a little bit about their position.  Kim expressed his appreciation, commenting that this team can always be counted on to go above and beyond whenever duty calls.
We all felt the warmth and mutual respect that is such a part of Dewees.

Hurricane Matthew appreciation party

And if you wish you could have been there, or you want to show appreciation for the staff, don’t hesitate to send in your gifts for the staff holiday fund.  This is how we show our beloved staff, each year, how much we appreciate them. Renters and guests are also welcome to contribute: send your donations to the Dewees Island POA, Staff Holiday Fund, 273 Old House Lane, Dewees Island, SC 29451.