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Prepping for storms

At the moment, all eyes are on hurricane Dorian. I get asked a lot of questions about hurricanes, and normally when we’re prepping to leave or hunker down, everything is so frantic that I don’t have a chance to write about things. As the track moves a little north, this post may be abbreviated.  We’re a big fan of Channel 2 news, and here’s their latest track:

Dewees has to plan ahead for storms, and we usually evacuate before the other islands do. When we managed rentals, visitors were often confused about why there would be a voluntary evacuation order so early. I had a few minutes to chat with David Dew, the island manager, as we prepared for Florence last year, and he can sum up the entire evacuation timeline with central point: the crane. The ferries are the highway to the island, and essential to protect. In order to protect them in a potentially catastrophic storm, they need to be pulled from the water at the boatyard by a large crane. The crane needs to be scheduled in advance, and once the winds pick up, even in advance of the “real” storm, the crane can no longer safely work the boats. So everything works backwards from that date. We’re not being hysterical; we’re being strategic.

Even if an evacuation isn’t necessary, there are a number of things everyone can do to make their homes more hurricane-ready.


Basically, anything on porches or in garages can become a projectile.  Birdfeeders, wicker furniture, porch swings, potted plants, fishing gear, and bicycles need to be stored.  If you don’t pick up all that stuff, you can find yourself with a situation like this:

or this:

It usually takes us an hour or two to get all the stuff inside, and we often roll up the rugs and push everything all together.


Hurricane protection, like fire protection, is an essential part of the design process when you are building a home on the island.  There are a LOT of different options people use on the island.

Bahama Shutters

Bahama Shutters provide shade during the summer months and can be lowered and locked to protect those windows. These are always attached to the windows and can be pulled in and secured from the inside. Before getting new windows, Huyler house had bahama shutters.

Corrugated Shutters

Corrugated shutters come in metal and polycarbonate, and are usually panels that slide into a top track.

The panels are usually stored in a box on the deck, and are the size that one person can slide the top into the track and then secure the bottom with bolts and wing nuts.

One advantage of the polycarbonate is that they let light through, so if it’s a high window you can often leave them up for the whole season.

They can also cover doors:

storm shutter

Rolldown shutters

This house has bahama shutters on the left and rolldown shutters over the large windows.

Rolldown shutters are usually mounted on the outside of the house and can be operated manually from inside or outside the house, depending on the particular setup. Some are electric and some can even be operated remotely.

These rolldowns are operated with a wand, which allows the user to crank the shutters down from inside the house.
these rolldowns are operated with a crank from outside the house, but the last one can be controlled from within the house.

Custom Wood Shutters

Some houses have custom wood shutters that make closing up fairly simple as the shutters are attached to the house and only need closing.

these shutters slide across the windows
these shutters fold in from the outside.
these shutters close over the french doors
Inside view of custom shutters that flip down
These hinged shutters drop down from a panel in the porch ceiling. They have smaller windows in them so you can let light in if you need it.

Fabric Shutters

One different kind of storm protection that is relatively easy to store and lightweight is hurricane fabric. These are panels that get stored inside and mounted over windows and doors.

These are secured with pegs and wing nuts.

you can move them aside when you need to reach the door.

Hurricane proof glass

Homes with hurricane proof glass are easier to close up: lock the windows and doors and head on out. They are more expensive up front though.


Plywood is one choice: pros are price; cons are storage and difficulty of installation. This home along the waterway uses plywood to board up:

Go ‘way hurricane cookies

When I first moved to the lowcountry, I was totally addicted to a Post and Courier Column called Good Morning Lowcountry. When they took out the column, I canceled the paper subscription, though we still read it online. But I digress. Island friend Harriet McLeod was the writer of that column, and you can still get copies of her columns in her book Good Morning Lowcountry, Lessons from the South Carolina Swamp. It is totally worth the read Here is an article about the reactions in the P&C newsroom when Harriett delivered the cookies.Last year, Harriett put a set of her famous hurricane cookies into our auction for the Lake Timicau project, but then she was out of town when Florence started bearing down on us. Rich with caramel, chocolate, and a little gris-gris, these cookies have magical properties to ward off storms. The mantle of baking them fell to me, so I threw them together as we got ready to evacuate last year. Well, the first batch of 2019 has been baked, folks, and I am happy to bake the second in the morning. Here’s hoping that storm fizzles on out.

Here’s a shot of me delivering the warm cookies to people securing their homes last year.