Staying Put and Hunkered Down for Hurricane Matthew

Following up on Brian’s post regarding our experiences with the biggest Hurricane we’ve seen in over a decade on the Eastern Carolinas, I decided to stay put at my condo (also above the Blue Ion office). Several of my friends chose to stay in town, and really we were waiting it out to see if this storm was going to turn, hit landfall early, dissipate, in hopes of deciding we wouldn’t need to evacuate. Unfortunately, Matthew was somewhat unpredictable in that it wasn’t until midday Friday that it appeared it would be coming for us. And still unsure as to how hard it would be when it hit.

While everything turned out in the end, my experience was a week of considerable amount prep work and stress, culminating with a very slow moving storm to wait out. My video cam recorded the full episode, and I sped it up to be a timelapes. From preparing, to overcast, to storm conditions, and finally, beautiful skies.

While my girlfriend was headed to Atlanta, my friends, Paul and Katherine, chose to ride it out with me along with our two cats. We prepared early in the week by pulling furniture, plants, fire table, outdoor rugs, and any other objects of concern, from the outdoor decks. I also began pulling out the Hurricane “Fabric” system that was integrated with the condo for this very reason. The only problem was, no one ever showed me how to install it.

Paul and I attempted to work on it on Wednesday, but one issue after the next, over the course of hours working on it, had us giving up. The bolts and anchors already in the deck, which the track system would be installed with, were fused together and couldn’t be separated. My GC was able to bring a crew on Thursday and we found a way to secure the track to the deck using new self-tapping screws. It seemed like this might work with our shortened timeframe, since most people had already left town and finding the perfect fix wasn’t going to happen this time around.

Once installed, I felt a lot better about the windows and the storm. This fabric system is actually pretty interesting in that it’s a kevlar-type material, and non-porous, capable of shielding from strong winds, excessive wind-blown rain, and reduce impact of projectiles. When they were up, it was noticeably different being behind these during the high winds.

However, once the storm started rolling in on Friday, things got a little hairy. Starting at 8pm that night. The wind managed to loosen the bolts from one 15ft span of track, and suddenly with 40mph winds already beginning, we were dealing with 3 fabric shades being blown against the glass with a large metal track attached.

Acting frantically, we went out into the storm, careful to not get hit by these swinging shades and track, held them back while unscrewing the shades from the bottom track. This seemed to be the best solution rather than having that track swinging around and potentially crashing into the glass. But, without it secured, the 3 shades flapped in the wind and would still beat against the glass with it’s metal grommets. Was that really the best approach?

We relocated downstairs in Blue Ion rather than being in my living room and potentially having the glass break with us in there. Or at the very least, the noise was a bit unsettling.Throughout the night, we would go up to the condo to check on things and continued to find everything intact. Paul and I decided to attempt to zip-tie the 3 shades together (thru metal grommets on the sides) in hopes that it would keep it as a single unit and flap a bit less. We also used some tensile rope to attach the combined panels to a steel post on the deck. Less than an hour later, that rope had snapped. Oh well.We stayed up, drinking coffee and trading off between watching the storm news and many episodes of Seinfeld to get our minds on to something else. By the time the storm’s “eye-wall” was moving in at about 8am, the increased winds managed to work 2 other tracks out of the deck. We were faced again with more of these shades, attached to metal tracks, swinging high in the air and coming down potentially hitting the glass and breaking it. We got to work to release the shades from the tracks.After the storm had passed us, I was expecting the winds to die down, but due to the backside of Matthew, we dealt with high winds for most of the remainder of Saturday. I was able to take my first nap since Friday morning, at about 2pm Saturday.In the end, the shades were probably not needed this time, but we really couldn’t have known. We also now know what the issues had been and they are correcting the track to make it permanent in the deck. The tracks that came loose, and the shades flapping throughout, did cause some minor scuffs on the deck, glass and paint, but thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it felt that night. Being out on a 3rd story deck in the middle of a Cat2 hurricane, getting drenched and being concerned that something is going to fly at you and kill you…. or a giant Hurricane shield or track is going to knock you off… is not something I’d like to go thru again.