Wednesday, June 6, 2018

EDITOR'S NOTES: Hurricanes are no places to ride motorcycles


on My wife likes to say that we have two seasons here in the South, the green season and the greener season.

As a relative newcomer to the area, I was happy to see some snow last winter and I was even more thrilled to actually use the four-wheel-drive on my SUV. The vehicle wasn’t so thrilled and did not like shifting into four-wheel low. It had a been a while since she had seen any real action.

So, when the weather turned a little warm, I traded her in for a motorcycle, thinking I was just driving my rig to work and back anyway. No use in throwing away gas money on a vehicle that gets 16 miles per gallon (21 highway).

I love my motorcycle. It’s fast and uses very little gas; and as a bonus, I never have to buy windshield wipers when it rains — which it does, mostly on days when I drive my bike.

I won’t lie, I do miss air conditioning and cup holders, and I’ve had a few near misses with “cagers,” slang for drivers of vehicles with four or more wheels. But riding a motorcycle has made me much more aware of things happening around me.

For instance motorcycles are all but invisible to everyone else on the roads - except for other riders, who give a friendly wave when passing.

I’ve also become keenly aware of the weather. I check it the night before and the morning of my ride to work each day -- especially now that we are in hurricane season.

June 1 marks the beginning of Atlantic Hurricane Season, which last year produced 17 total storms, 10 of which became hurricanes. Six of those were considered major hurricanes of Category 3 or above.

You may recall last year when Hurricane Irma skirted by us, but left plenty of people underwater from the heavy rains. Irma was a Category 5 storm when it moved through the Caribbean and came ashore in Miami, Florida. It was originally forecast to push up the Florida panhandle then skirt back out into the Atlantic before coming ashore again at Savannah or even Charleston.

The trajectory would have run right over Summerville, but by the time its effects were felt in South Carolina’s Lowcountry on Monday morning, it had been downgraded to a Category 1 storm or severe tropical storm.

Nonetheless, it generated flash floods on the Ashley, Edisto and Santee rivers as well as French Quarter Creek in Huger and Turkey Creek in Hanahan. Some trees were uprooted and power was cut to about 4,500 people between Berkeley and Dorchester counties.

Most businesses closed and many boarded their windows and doors. Tuesday arrived with partly cloudy skies and normal temperatures as residents worked to clean up downed limbs and other yard debris.

Most residents said they felt as if the storm wasn’t as bad as they had prepared for.

Preparation, of course, is mandatory from now until the end of November. That’s something we, as a community are getting better at every year.

In today's edition of the Journal Scene you'll find a story about how local and state officials are working to better prepare for disaster when the next hurricane strikes.

When Gov. Henry McMaster visited the area last week, he met with local mayors and county emergency departments, saying we must extra vigilant because of the unique nature of our location here in the Lowcountry.

Our proximity to popular tourist attractions can bring visitors to the area that may not know what to do when a hurricane warning is issued.

Regardless on if you are new to the area or have a long history here, now is the time to get ready.

You can get a good start on that by doing some simple things now. The Red Cross released a simple checklist that every family should work through in the coming days.

Here is their list:

• Build an emergency kit that will last everyone in your family at least three days.

• Talk with household members and create an evacuation plan and practice it.

• Learn about the community’s hurricane response plan.

You probably have some ideas as well; here are a few that I’ll add from experience.

• Get the car tuned up and keep it full of gas and ready to go.

• Have enough cash on hand to get you wherever you need to go to find high ground and shelter.

• If you plan to stick around, fill your outdoor grill’s propane tanks now. And maybe pick up an extra tank now before they disappear.

• Put up three days worth - or more - of drinking water. We use those clear 5 gallon jugs and keep them upstairs.

My wife’s father used to tell the story of the lazy man who complained about the rain coming in through his broken window, but when the rain stopped he complained that there was no need to fix his window on such a nice day.

Don’t be the lazy man. Get ready now.

David Kennard checks the weather daily and plans to trade in his motorcycle for a car. He is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at dkennard@journalscene.com or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.

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