Moving On, Learning From Florence/Flooding

Finally, some normalcy.

Today, students reported back to class here at Coastal Carolina University. A few miles away from campus, Sidney reported back to work at Palmetto Bays Elementary. Although she will be without students today, Mrs. Reser will be joined by her second graders tomorrow as Horry County Schools will resume instruction across the district.

It has been quite the 21 days, a passage of time that definitely did not fly by. But we made it. In tonight’s blog post, I wanted to share 10 quick tidbits from this unprecedented Hurricane Florence/major flooding period.

* Sid’s students have been out of class longer than they have been it. She says that they will be essentially starting over.

* Our President at CCU organized a “welcome back” gathering for our students today. Hosted on Prince Lawn, we provided lunch and had all of our campus services available to help our students get back into the swing of things. These cool #CCUStrong shirts were handed out as well  

Today we had a welcome back event on campus. We gave out these #CCUStrong t-shirts.

* The weekend that Hurricane Florence hit our area (Sept. 15-16), my parish, St. Andrew, took the extraordinary step and canceled all masses for that weekend. With the church extremely close to the ocean, it was a necessary decision. Luckily, thanks be to God, our beautiful place of worship received little damage.

St. Andrew canceled masses during the Hurricane Florence weekend. Thankfully, the church was unharmed.

* Hurricane Florence/flooding didn’t keep Sloan’s daycare out of commission for long. Seriously, Oxford Children’s Academy is the best. Although its policy is to follow the lead of Horry County Schools, our daycare opened up on Tuesday, Sept. 18, and stayed open the remainder of the month.

Thanks to Oxford Children’s Academy for offering great hours and doing what a lot of other daycare centers wouldn’t.

* Sidney’s school came to the rescue. Not wanting its students to feel disconnected from their teachers and classmates, Palmetto Bays staged an event at a Bojangles location for the school community. Families were encouraged to attend for free food and the opportunity to say “hi” to the teaching staff.

Sid and some of her other teachers back at school after the Bojangles event.

* Local and regional businesses helped out. Many hotels in the Grand Strand area offered reduced room rates to people displaced by flooding. Organizations around the South offered perks for those impacted by Florence. For example, the Atlanta Braves and Florida Gators both offered FREE tickets to North and South Carolina residents. The Jacksonville Zoo provided our family with discounted admission passes.

The Jacksonville Zoo offered us discounted tickets.

* Our football team made headlines. The Coastal football team was on the road for nearly two weeks, spending a bulk of the time in hotels in the Jacksonville area. The Chants made the best of it, winning two games, including a Wednesday afternoon matchup that was changed at the last minute. Out of all the articles written about the experience, I enjoyed the USA Today story the best.

* My relatives reached out. Things started to look pretty serious when the national news networks started to forecast a direct hit on Myrtle Beach. I had relatives and old friends reach out to check on us. When the forecast turned especially bad, my poor mom had a tough time keeping it together at work when people would ask her how we were doing.

* We were so fortunate. I can’t say enough how lucky our little family was. Things were looking pretty bleak at one point so to come away unscathed was truly a gift from God.

* We are #CarolinaStrong. I learned a lot about the resolve of this area. People and groups have gone out of their way to help others, demonstrating how special this part of the country is. I couldn’t be more proud to live here.

I am proud to be #CarolinaStrong!


Although our family can move on, many others must rebuild. As we continue to live our lives, it is important to remember those not as fortunate as us. Don’t Blink.

Our Return From Evacuation

We are back, safe and sound.

After a seven-hour drive that consumed most of our Sunday, the three of us arrived in Myrtle Beach yesterday evening. As we traveled back, we weren’t on pins and needles about what we would find once we pulled into our driveway. Thanks to the kindness of family and friends, we had multiple people check on our house over the weekend. Each report indicated that except for debris in the backyard, our home escaped Hurricane Florence unscathed.

We had a nice time at our evacuation location, Jacksonville.

However, although I wasn’t really sweating it, I did experience a satisfying sense of relief when I walked through our door and saw our perfectly intact house for myself. God is good and the power of prayer is real.

In the end, it was obvious: If we had stayed in Myrtle Beach instead of evacuating, we would have been fine. Hurricane Florence didn’t impact the area as anticipated. With that said, what choice did we have when confronted with the trusted information from meteorologists and emergency management personnel? If the storm had changed its track slightly, we would have been in trouble. In my mind, the only viable decision was to evacuate.

Regardless of whether leaving was the right call in hindsight, our little family made the most out of our time in Jacksonville. Instead of dealing with dark skies, heavy winds, and pouring rain, we enjoyed the sunny and blue skies of Florida. Although I did have to work remotely, we still managed to do a lot during the time we spent “down south.” While driving in a car for nine hours (Wednesday) and seven hours (Sunday) might seem like a drag, the three of us enjoyed the time we got to spend together in close quarters. However, I would be lying if I said we didn’t prefer the three full days we spent together out of the car at our evacuation destination.

Like I mentioned, we stayed busy. We made trips to Disney World (future blog post coming) and the Jacksonville Zoo. We explored the neighborhood community we stayed at and sampled some of the local cuisine. Between the activities and my CCU duties, we also managed to relax a little bit as well; something we surely would not have been able to do if we stayed home.

As we settle back in at our house, a new threat is looming over our heads: flooding. The street in front of our house is already underwater. However, I much rather face this than a massive hurricane. We will be just fine.

The street in front of our house is flooded.

What a story we will have to tell Sloan years from now! With enthusiasm we will fill her in on how we escaped Hurricane Florence by evacuating to Jacksonville. We will then show her the photos and video of how an unfortunate weather event allowed us to take an unexpected trip to Disney World. Talk about an adventure! Don’t Blink.

Hurricane Florence Thursday Rundown

Greetings from Jacksonville, our home until further notice. Hurricane Florence might make us leave our home but it won’t stop me from writing a Thursday Rundown. Let’s get right to it…

Evacuating – Yesterday at noon, we set off for Jacksonville. What is normally a six-hour drive took us almost nine. We pulled up to Sid’s aunt’s house a little past 8:30 p.m. As I alluded to in yesterday’s blog post, it was the evacuation traffic that delayed us. The congestion was heaviest around Savannah. Although she had a rough final 45 minutes, Sloan did extremely well for most of the drive, smiling and laughing as we escaped Hurricane Florence. As we traveled away from the hurricane zone, we counted (yes, literally counted) over 300 linemen vehicles going the opposite way, right from where we were coming from.

Sid and I at a random rest stop during our evacuation to Jacksonville yesterday.

Current Outlook – The latest Hurricane Florence outlook isn’t as dire as it was yesterday. The storm has weakened a bit and the Myrtle Beach area can now expect less severe winds. Nonetheless, a HURRICANE is still going to hit the Grand Strand. What is supposed to really send our area into a frenzy of disarray is flooding. Massive rain totals and storm surge will combine to flood the South Carolina coast to a degree of biblical proportions. The wet conditions will soften soil, leading to further problems. Although the wind speed has decreased, gusts will still be strong and they will be sustained, lasting for at least 24 hours. Persistent, strong winds will wreak havoc on trees that are planted in the softened soil, leading to widespread vegetative damage.

This flooding business is not going to be good.

First Day in Jacksonville – It has been a relaxing, low-key first day in Florida. We are technically staying in a place called Fleming Island, a suburb of Jacksonville. After I finished my work this morning, the three of us took a drive around our new surroundings, scoping out the sights. We picked up some groceries and enjoyed lunch. A little later we went out on this long, skinny dock that overlooks a body of water called Doctors Lake. After enjoying the scenic view, we went to the playground in the community we are staying and let Sloan run wild. We are excited to see what the evening will hold!

It has been a good first day in Jacksonville.

Non-Hurricane Florence Topic – This week, the 35th season of “Jeopardy” debuted. It started off with quite the surprise as Alex Trebek trotted onto the stage with a beard! Although famous for the mustache he has sported over the course of numerous seasons, the beard was an entirely new thing. You know what? I like it!!

I am a fan of Alex Trebek’s beard!

Tomorrow’s Surprise – Well, well, well, Sloan is in for a big surprise tomorrow. In order to give her a special experience and to take our minds off Hurricane Florence, we will be taking our little girl to a place that is quite popular in Florida. I can’t say much more than that, but if you don’t know what I am alluding to you must consider somewhere else the happiest place on earth.


We are safe and sound, so don’t worry about us. However, please pray for the millions of people who are still in the path of Hurricane Florence. We can only hope that the storm will continue to weaken and that it will have mercy on the great East Coast. Don’t Blink.


The time has come. We are activating our family evacuation plan.

We are on our way to Jacksonville to stay at Sidney’s aunt’s house. Going to Florida will get us far away from Hurricane Florence. Words can’t describe how awful this storm is supposed to be. State leaders have called it “a monster” and “a beast” while meteorologists have forecasted the impact to be “catastrophic” and “devastating.”

In addition to God, we are praying to St. Medard, the patron saint of storms, to help weaken Hurricane Florence.

Unfortunately, the hurricane shifted southwest last night, putting the Myrtle Beach area in line for a direct hit. As we watched the gloomy news in bed last night, I told Sid we had no choice. We were getting the hell out.

This is a tough situation. We are leaving loved ones and friends behind. We have to say goodbye to our beautiful new home, completely clueless about what will happen to it while we are gone. The timetable for how long we will be out of state is anyone’s guess. This hurricane is supposed to pound our area for the entire weekend. Once the punishment is done there is no telling how much recovery work will have to be completed before we can even enter the city again. Things look bleak.

We are praying to God that our house is protected.

But with Myrtle Beach now in the rearview mirror, I am starting to feel more positive. We are off to a secure place and we got Sloan riding comfortably in the backseat. Evacuating can be tough and scary, but it is a no-brainer when the well-being of your daughter is at stake.

We appreciate all the prayers and support. Please pray for us as we make the six-hour drive to Jacksonville. With evacuation traffic, it could be a lot longer. If need be, we will cut the trip in half and stay in Savannah overnight before completing the trek to Jacksonville on Thursday. Most importantly, please pray for everyone who will be severely impacted by Hurricane Florence. It is going to get ugly. Don’t Blink.

Putting Hurricane Florence In Perspective

Yesterday evening, I was in my office building bagging up my computers and packing my belongings in preparation for a Hurricane Florence hit. It was announced a couple hours earlier that Coastal Carolina University would be closed until further notice. The next time I would set foot in my workspace would be well after the storm hit. What would I come back to?

In the office next door our photographer and my friend, Judy, was packing up her office. I poked my head in her door and we started talking about how quickly things change. Just a few days prior we were stressing over a couple university events that would be happening this week. With a massive hurricane now on the horizon, we remarked at how insignificant those events (obviously canceled) now seemed. Talk about perspective.

But today, my perspective is completely reversed. We are one day closer to the arrival of Hurricane Florence but I am not as deflated today as I was yesterday. Why? Today is 9/11.

Hurricane Florence is awful, but it could be worse. Just take a moment to reflect on 9/11.

You see, this major weather event, which has the potential to obliterate the coast of the Carolinas, pales in comparison to the unjust tragedy that occurred 17 years ago today.

By the grace of God, the art of meteorology has advanced to an incredible and high-tech level over the past several generations. We know well in advance of when these natural disasters will hit. In fact, in most instances, we know the exact hour of reckoning. We are forewarned and free to make our own decisions based on the information that is freely given.

The passengers on those planes and the people inside those buildings didn’t have a clue about what was about to happen that morning on September 11. They had no Weather Channel or no Ed Piotrowski to tip them off two weeks ahead of time about what was to come. Sadly, they weren’t even given an alert on their phones 10 minutes before the ultimate act of evil was about to take place.

I will take nature-induced hell over manmade-induced hell any day. Being tipped off about Mother Nature destruction is better than being sucker-punched by brainwashed scum of the earth destruction.

Many of us Carolinians find ourselves in an awful situation this week. However, things could be much worse. To understand this, all we need to do is remember our fellow Americans who perished on this date in 2001. Don’t Blink.


Past 9/11 blog posts:


Nervous About Florence

I am used to it by now. Having lived in South Carolina for well over four years, we all know what September means: Start of college football!

No, you idiot. It means hurricane season.

Hard to believe, but this is the fifth September I have spent in Myrtle Beach. Each one has brought with it some type of hurricane threat. I survived the first four Septembers so why should I be concerned about this one? The hurricane that is lingering off the coast right now is just like all the others, right?

Not so fast.

I never allowed myself to get too worked up about past hurricanes that flirted with–or even impacted–our area. However, Hurricane Florence is a little different. My stress level for this one is more elevated than the others.

I wish it would stay away, but our area will be impacted by Hurricane Florence in some way.

Two years ago, I experienced Hurricane Matthew. It impacted our area quite a bit. Our doors flew open, our fence posts toppled, and our power went out. It wasn’t too enjoyable. But here is the thing: When Hurricane Matthew met Myrtle Beach, it was a Category 1 hurricane.

If Hurricane Florence hits us, it is supposed to be a Category 4.

Now I am sure most of you out there can guess what that means. If not, let me give you a hint: hurricane intensity doesn’t lessen as the category climbs higher.

A Category 4 hurricane brings devastating 133-155 MPH winds and a storm surge 13-18 feet above normal. To say the least, it can be devastating. But don’t feel as if we are on a collision course with doomsday just yet. According to the forecast, there is a 50% chance that Hurricane Florence will hit our area with that intensity. Are you an optimist or pessimist?

Other factors besides the sheer strength of Florence get me nervous too. We are in a new house. We have Sloan. We have a large lawn that is prone to flooding. But all that doesn’t even cover the aftermath headache that we will face once the hurricane rips through the area and the recovery process begins. As you can see, my focus is divided in a few different directions, especially since I am in charge of the Coastal Carolina University social media response to the hurricane (there are thousands of students and parents depending on us for accurate and updated information).

Bottom line, there is no escaping the fact that Hurricane Florence will impact the Grand Strand in some way. The question is just how severe her punishment will be. Don’t worry about us because we will be fine — we have an evacuation plan in place and our little family will stick together. Don’t let my nerves about our personal situation concern you. Instead, let’s turn our attention to those who have nowhere to go nor the means to prepare. A lot of people will be in the dark (literally and figuratively) when Hurricane Florence hits. Let’s pray for them.

I will keep everyone updated on the track of Hurricane Florence.  It isn’t a particularly fun time but we will make the best of it. Let’s hope that it is less severe than what we are preparing for. Don’t Blink.