A Hurricane Hit Home

I was a hurricane neophyte. That’s why last Tuesday I was shopping at Home Goods on Hilton Head Island, oblivious to the reports that Hurricane Matthew was heading our way. When I called a friend from the parking lot to see if she wanted to take a walk on the beach later, the tone of her voice told me I needed to take this category-four hurricane seriously. Trying to remember what I’d read about hurricane preparations, I headed to Whole Foods for food. After all, I am a foodie.

Try to think of allergy-friendly foods you can eat that don’t need an oven, a stovetop, or a microwave. Now think of some that don’t require refrigeration. Not easy, huh? I came home with a bunch of perishables and canned goods. I forgot the water. I would have been really hungry and thirsty after a few days.

By the time I unpacked my canned tuna and apples, the South Carolina governor was ordering mandatory evacuation My husband was away on business so it was up to me to secure our outside furniture, pack our clothes and our dog Zoe’s food and toys, load up the car with our computers and important papers, and turn off the gas and water. Wanting to avoid traffic, Zoe and I left at 5 a.m. on Wednesday (evacuation was 3 p.m.). My heart raced a little when I saw how many cars were waiting in long lines at gas stations. This was the real thing.

During the five and a half hour drive to Atlanta I thought of all the things I should have packed and questioned whether I’d locked all the doors. Should I have unplugged all the appliances? I kept thinking about the rotisserie chicken I’d forgotten in the refrigerator that would spoil and smell should the power go off.  But I told myself not to worry: I was certain I’d only be gone a few days.  Hurricane Matthew  would stay off the coast and pass by our beloved island  as so many other hurricanes had over the years.

I was a hurricane neophyte.

My husband met me at a hotel in Atlanta (we couldn’t get reservations any closer). Ever the optimist, he reserved three nights.

Thinking this was an opportunity to review some Atlanta restaurants, I messaged a fellow foodie from Atlanta for some recommendations (reviews to come). Truthfully, after watching the Weather Channel 24/7 and seeing the devastation Hurricane Matthew was causing to Florida coasts, we weren’t all that hungry. I bought some peanut butter and bananas for my hotel breakfast and Zoe and I nibbled on turkey and ham throughout the day.

Our vacation home is in Sea Pines, the oldest of the Hilton Head communities founded in 1957.  Our children learned to ride bikes on the packed sand of the five-mile beach and to swim in the pools of the houses we rented. After many years of summer vacations there, we took the plunge and bought a house.  Over a year ago, with our children now adults and retirement approaching, we sold the first and bought another closer to the beach. We’d just finished remodeling and decorating and were looking forward to Colorado friends arriving on October 12 for our member-guest golf tournament. They anxiously watched the Weather Channel, too. “Hilton Head has been lucky so far,” I told them.

Sea Pines Beach: Before Hurricane Matthew

Sea Pines Beach: Before Hurricane Matthew

Our security system notified us we lost power at 4:05 a.m. on Saturday, October 8.  We learned later that morning that Hurricane Matthew, downgraded to hurricane-2, hovered over Hilton Head from about 2  a.m. to 5 a.m.  While the Weather Channel reported on Savannah and Charleston, no reporters shared news about our inaccessible island. By Saturday afternoon, folks who’d stayed hunkered down during the storm shared photos on social media of massive pines, palmettos, and live oaks crossing roadways like a child’s game of pickup sticks. Soon we’d learn Sea Pines had been hit the hardest. The worst had really happened.

Of course we were concerned about our house, but ours was newer and built to withstand a hurricane’s wrath. Ours was a second home and didn’t contain our cherished belongings or irreplaceable keepsakes (except for the preserved and mounted shark my husband and children had caught). What we did worry about was our older neighbor who had stayed in a ground-level house without a cell phone. We worried about our beloved landmarks, including the “Liberty Oak” in Harbour Town where our children heard Greg Russell sing and where the founder of Sea Pines Charles E. Fraser is buried.  The golf courses and the piers could be rebuilt, but not that tree. We worried about our friends who had to stay evacuated while we returned to our primary residence.

Live Oaks line the roads in Sea Pines

Live Oaks lining a Sea Pines road before the storm

On Saturday evening we took a direct flight back to Colorado Springs. Not knowing if it would be two days or two weeks for cleanup, we didn’t want to stay in a hotel room watching the Weather Channel any longer.

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I’m posting this on Tuesday, October 11. It’s amazing what the first responders, the cleanup crews, law enforcement, the community organizations, utilities, and others have accomplished in three days. Evacuees have returned to the island. While not encouraged to go back to Sea Pines because of the safety risks, residents are now allowed back on. According to our security system texts, our power has gone on and then off again several times.  We still don’t know if we have water, nor do we  know anything about our home’s condition. What we do know is our neighbor is safe, and the Liberty Oak is standing strong among massive amounts of debris. We’ve seen heart-wrenching photos of enormous trees on roofs, of golf courses and parking lots under water, and we’ve seen the worried faces of distraught people, including a boat captain whose boat was destroyed. How will he make a living now?

We’ve been told had Hurricane Matthew stayed a category-4 our beloved island would be gone. So while we incurred massive destruction, we are fortunate to have an island to return to. My husband and I along with Zoe will return as soon as it’s safe (I’m particularly worried about the alligators and the snakes who were displaced!). While we are sometimes referred to as “part-timers” by the locals and the full-timers who have retired on Sea Pines, I have a feeling we’ll come together to restore the island we all love.

And I’ll tell you this: I’ll always pay attention during hurricane season. I am no longer a hurricane neophyte.

You may also enjoy a previous post about Hilton Head.

A Hurricane Hit Home” originally appeared on Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside

Beach Ride

Every day in Hilton Head I ride my pink bike to the beach.  Every woman over 30 should have a pink bike.

My Pink Bike

I am twelve again, pedaling down the mossy tree-lined road.

Road toward beach

No cares in the world.  Just the goal of getting to the beach while the tide is low.  I pass the alligator whose lived in the same lagoon for as long as anyone can remember

Alligator

and I smile at the prehistoric-looking birds sitting on the rocks.

SC bird

I coast down the wooden beach path and park my bike in the sand.

Bike at beach

Watching the shrimp boat bobbing up and down, I take a moment to breathe and be thankful.

Ocean

Never in a hurry, I eventually resume my ride, splashing through the tide pools and avoiding the somewhat scary crabs that have washed onto shore.

crab

The wind at my back, I pedal and pedal. I scan the waves for dolphins and jumping fish and marvel at the birds diving into the water.

The day is perfect.

When the tide creeps up, I ride home on my pink bike. Low tide will come again tomorrow.

Bike shadow

Beach Ride originally appeared in Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

An Allergic Foodie Goes to the Farmers’ Market

For the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging, beaching, biking—as well as food shopping, cooking and dining–in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, one of my favorite places in the world. If you’ve never been here, close your eyes and imagine expansive blue skies, long sandy beaches, and breathtaking sunsets.

Sunset at SPCC

Now picture yourself hopping on your beach bike–mine is bright pink–and joining me and my friend Edna as we pedal down to the local famers’ market in Sea Pines Center.

You should know by now that this allergic foodie never passes up a local farmers’ market!  Never know what you’ll discover. . . like this guy wearing the lobster hat!

lobster guy

Yes, I know, there’s wheat in those lobster rolls he’s serving, not to mention I overheard “Joe” from Joe Loves Lobster say he dribbled butter on top of the lobster. Just those two ingredients would send me to bed for a week.

However, I can guarantee you my husband will be stopping by Joe’s next Tuesday. We don’t get lobster rolls in Colorado. In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can reinvent the lobster roll—free of wheat and dairy, of course.

After passing on the handcrafted goat’s milk soap (ingredients include soybean oil!), Edna and I spoke to a talented artist named Nancy Mitchell who happens to be the mother of not one but two local musicians we’ve followed for years, Steppin’ Stones and Luke Mitchell.  How about that!

Never know what you’ll discover . . .

At the end of the shopping plaza, we met Matt Frommer, the owner of Frommer’s Natural Foods.  Okay, so the cool guy in sunglasses wanted to know why this not-so-cool lady was taking photos of his booth.

Wasn’t it obvious?

Frommer's Natural Foods

I asked Matt why no gluten, expecting he or someone in his family had a wheat allergy or celiac disease.  Matt said he simply wanted to make the healthiest product he could.  (A side note:  Matt uses Bob’s Red Mill GF Oats and wasn’t aware of the recent brouhaha concerning Bob’s GF products being tested and containing gluten. He knows now.)

Matt Frommer

Matt Frommer of Frommer’s Natural Foods

Since the granola bars contained vanilla, one of my oh-so-many allergies, I set them aside for my GF son who’s coming to visit next week.  The GF Orange Agave Granola sans vanilla will probably have disappeared by then.

It’s a pleasure to meet someone like Matt, a young chef and entrepreneur with a desire to make simple healthful food. The food allergy/celiac disease community need more like him.

Never know what you’ll discover at the local farmers’ market.