In the Colonial period tropical storms and hurricanes were known as “September gales,” probably because the ones people remembered and wrote about were those which damaged or destroyed crops just before they were to be harvested.
Charleston was hit on September 25, 1686. It was described as “wonderfully horrid and destructive…Corne is all beaten down and lyes rotting on the ground… Aboundance of our hoggs and Cattle were killed in the Tempest by the falls of Trees…” But this gale also prevented a Spanish assault on the city by destroying one of their galleys and killing the commander of the Spanish assault.
Hurricanes and tropical storms are irregular visitors to coastal South Carolina. Starting in 1851, there is more information about each one. In the period, 1851-2016, 24 hurricanes have made landfall.
Hurricane Hugo attacked South Carolina and North Carolina 27 years ago, but for us that lived through its assault have not forgotten its sound and fury.
“The weather on September 21st, 1989 started off not much different than any other late summer or early Fall day. But that all began to change quickly as nighttime approached. For those that decided to stay it was certainly a night they will never forget.”
Today the Eastern shores of Georgia and South Carolina await another hurricane named Hermine. It made landfall early this morning in Florida with a furious mix of rain, whistling winds and surging waves. As it continues to move, it has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Hermine’s toll has yet to be determined.
We don’t have to wait for storms to come into our lives; strong winds of hurt and loss can make us stumble during any day or month. But as Gandalf said, ““All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
I watched a DVD series last month called the Winds of War. It was a 1983 miniseries based on books written by Herman Wouk. The plot follows an American family as they face the history before World War II. Even though the circumstances are the same, each individual has different reactions and chooses his own path, just as in life.
In her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott tells this story.
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
When we encounter someone who is buffeted by hurricanes, let’s choose to encourage them. In fact, we can walk beside them. That is what friendship is all about.
September 10 – Pioneer Day in Gray Court, SC
September 16 – Revolutionary War History Museum in Simpsonville, SC
September 17 – Bethabara Apple Festival in Winston Salem, NC
September 22 – DAR Chapter in Bishopville, SC