Before we left our condo in Pawleys Island last week to return to Connecticut, my wife asked me: “Should we bring in the patio furniture?” “Nah,” I responded as quickly as I always do when long odds and physical exertion intersect. She, of course, was thinking of the ever-present threat of hurricanes on the southeast coast this time of year; I did my usual snap calculation and estimated the chances of a significant storm affecting our condo were about 1 in 20+ years (the last one being Hugo in 1989).
We will be calling our neighbors later this morning to ask them to take the furniture in for us. As of 6 a.m. today, our community of Pawleys Plantation is dead center in the projected path of Hurricane Irene, whose winds have now topped 100 mph as it barrels past the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Conceivably, the Atlantic gulfstream could deal us a double blow, bringing the storm up the coast to Connecticut and dropping significant rainfall on the entire state, with the inevitable flooding of rivers and streams. Even though we are 90 miles from Long Island Sound, high winds are possible as well; back in 1989, Hurricane Hugo’s winds reached almost 100 mph in Charlotte, a three-hour drive from Charleston, where the hurricane made landfall.
Fortunately, we have flood insurance for our home in Pawleys Island, as well as the easier-to-secure and cheaper wind and hail damage protection. One of our neighbors called us the other day to ask about our flood insurance policy because they don’t have one and started thinking what if. With a 60-day waiting period, their new policy won’t cover them for Irene. For their sake and ours, I’m hoping the odds are with them and others along the eastern seaboard, and that Irene wobbles her way out to sea. But it does not look good.