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The Wallop We Didn’t See Coming

Everything that really matters is fine.  But if you are headed to the island for the holidays, you’ll see the weariness in your neighbors eyes.  This was a biggie.

The recap:

The forecast was for wind and a couple of inches of rain, and with the northeast wind we expected the tide to be higher than usual.  (Predicted tide was 5.6″) By the time the forecasters were calling for flash flooding and 4-6 inches, we were hunkered in, expecting the ferry to shut down for a few hours and the lights to flicker.  In short, a regular nor’easter.  What we got was the most substantial impact to the island since I’ve been here.  IOP residents say it was the worst since Hugo. 

On Saturday night, the rain and wind picked up a little, and it rained through the night.By Sunday morning we’d had a few inches of rain, and the wind was blowing a little.  A single clap of thunder rolled through.  And then our phones screeched at us with this: 

We weren’t even worried much about that. Our roads are not paved, so water dissipates fairly quickly.  We settled in with some music and some books.  Outside, I heard a ruckus of oystercatchers, and found them flying past the window, which has never happened before.  When I looked down, I realized  that the reason the birds were flying was because there was no place to land.

Watching the Water Rise in Real time

The impoundment was filling with water, fast.  I looked at our purple martin pole and there were a few wood storks resting nearby.  I snapped a photo, and then came back in the rain to snap subsequent photos: within 10 minutes the water had risen a foot, and another within the hour.

Calls and texts began to circulate between neighbors.  Most of us had water under our homes.  The homes on the north end of Pelican Flight had over three feet of water underneath. Ours had 4-6 inches.  

When Toni and Mark went out to check on their neighbors, they found a lot of water under their house and Pelican Flight completely impassable:

And it wasn’t just us: the Isle of Palms seemed to also have a problem.  Our car kept sending us messages via text: the doors are unlocked, the alarm is triggered, the windows are down.  I can only assume that the car does not have a pre-programmed notification that involves drowning.  Apparently Palm Blvd had so much water that the roads were non-navigable: someone sent the photo below, and the police were adamant that people stay off the roads.

By the time the rain stopped and the tide began to abate, we still couldn’t venture out of our driveway, but Reggie put the drone up the see what it looked like: the impoundment was over its banks, and the dock causeway was covered in wrack, and it seemed like the carts had moved off the line.  

Both Chapel pond and Huyler House pond were over their banks.  Water covered roads, and the ocean had breached the dunes.

Monday Dec 18

On Monday, the ferry began running at 7:00 am: residents were able to verify that their cars did, in fact, have water in them.  This was Old House Lane at 7:00 am: the road was still relatively impassable.  The staff arrived for a long day.

Throughout the day, we assessed damages and began clean-up.  The weather turned much colder, so the staff worked long hours on roads and drainage, clearing trees and debris from paths.  We watched the water dissipate far more slowly than we expected: Downtown, cruise passengers returned to find their cars flooded too.

I’m going to wrap up this post with the promise of more photos to come~ it’s currently Christmas eve and I have a few things to take care of.  But know that we’ve got this.  What we have together is stronger than the challenges we are facing.  We need to remember to treat each other (and ourselves) with kindness and grace. If you’re headed to Dewees and you don’t have transportation to your house, please text me~ we have volunteers who can help.  Happy holidays.