Hurricane Matthew: Two Weeks Later

Life after the hurricane

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for The Lord has been good to you.”
-Psalm 116:7


Two weeks ago today we were arriving back in Charleston after hiding out in Walterboro and anchoring our floating home away from us and up the Cooper River…

As we drove down US-17 the road was lined with debris; downed power lines and trees, some of which had already been cut to re-open the roadway by SCDOT.  Wide-eyed and camera in hand we surveyed the damage as we drove closer to Charleston; well aware that our marina had been hit hard and we needed to look for a new docking location.  Reviewing text messages from people we knew with private docks we decided to head out to Wadmalaw Island first and look at the dock at our priest’s parents’ house.  The further out out toward the end of the island we got the more impassable the roads.  Water flowed across Main Road, one of two entrances to the island, and we made the decision to drive through it.  Crews worked to free power lines entangled with pine tree limbs but we kept driving, desperate to find a place to stay for the night…if our boat was truly okay.  Weaving around downed trees a limb fell and hit the roof of our car with a thunk.  Turning onto the little dirt road leading to the house we saw devastation.  Trees and limbs everywhere.  As we weaved our way down the driveway it was nearly impassable due to all the destruction of the old oak trees.  Their house was completely fine but as we rounded the front of the house we saw the dock was no longer usable.  We took some photos and sent them to our priest and made our way back off Wadmalaw Island and toward Saint Johns Yacht Harbour to see the dock damage for ourselves. 

Leaving Walterboro, Driving down I-95, Johns Island

Main Road, crossing onto Johns Island.
The water was rushing across the road a little further up. 


Arriving at Saint Johns Yacht Harbor we saw Bill, the manager, scurrying to survey damage and helping secure the mess of floating docks.  Wide-eyed we looked at what had once been the outer six slips of our dock in photographs that had been shared on Facebook.  We didn’t visit out slip as our stop was brief and only to inquire about when we might be able to return…if they could find space for us. 

Our friends who anchored out with us called to say they had their boat and would take us to ours.  She was still floating!  My heart raced with excitement but we were still anxious to lay eyes on her for ourselves.  Hearing she is okay is one thing but seeing her is another.  We arrived at the pickup location and our friends hustled us out to our boat in a small center console power boat.  Rounding the curve of the creek I have never been so happy or relieved to see our sailboat mast rising above the marsh and bobbing in the waves.  She survived!  Overjoyed we could not get onboard fast enough to survey for any potential damage.  We didn’t make it out completely unscathed; TJ’s fear had come to fruition and our anchor chain jumped the track making big, ugly scratches on the aluminum cross beam (the part that connects the two hulls at the bow).  Cosmetic damage, not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  I moved quickly inside and down below to check for water and/or water damage.  Excitedly I yelled up to TJ, “Nothing in the galley!” I ran down to our cabin, it was also safe from any water leaks.  Then I crossed to Vivienne’s cabin… her bed was SOAKED completely through.  Books were wet and damaged, toys were sopping…it was a mess.  Again, a small price to pay but a hassle nonetheless.  I went on deck to help TJ pick up the anchor chain and Vivienne even helped by pushing the button and bringing it up.  This is where we #boatbaby.  Some other boats that anchored in our location did not do as well as we did…case and point, the Carolina Belle, a large tourist boat and a few sailboats.  We also learned five sailboats sunk at a different marina in Charleston. 

Seeing our boat floating high and happy.
Bringing in the anchor chain.   

We took our boat to a temporary dock location so we could put all our stuff from the car back on the boat before Vivienne and I left to go to the grocery store and run errands before TJ was to pick us up at the fuel dock of our marina.  Poor TJ had to deal with a runaway dinghy and a line the fouled our propeller before he could really get underway; meaning Vivienne and I were far ahead of schedule.  We arrived back at SJYH to wait for TJ when we saw our boat neighbor.  We chatted for a few minutes about their experience anchoring out up the Edisto River and staying on their boat for the duration of the storm.  Near the end of the conversation they said our slip was still open and stable and we should just tie up for the night and see if the office wanted us to move in the morning.  Praise God!  

Vivienne and I walked with the dogs down to our slip to wait for TJ to arrive, ecstatic we would have a place to stay.  Finally, around 9pm I could see the navigation lights emerging from Elliott Cut nearby and hear the engines of our boat heading our way.  My boat neighbor came out to help us tie up and his wife was the welcoming committee.  It was like a reunion.  Everyone was happy, smiling, and grateful to have floating homes and a slip.  Our boat was now on the outside slip so sleeping was a different experience, as the waves slapped our hull and we rocked and swayed more than usual.  It is something I am still getting used to.  In the days that followed we put our sails and bimini back up.  We stowed the items in their proper places that had been thrown into the salon.  I cleaned all the laundry and sheets that had been left before the storm.  Our boat was returning to normal.  The entire event–prep, anchor, and return–took 11 days.  Those 11 days were an absolute blur, as we were running on little sleep and lots of stress.  

TJ and I had a 24 hour young adult retreat already planned with our church on the Friday after the storm.  We debating going, as we felt we had hardly spent any time at home as a family, but decided it would be good to go.  Walking around Seabrook Island we were amazed at how quickly  Camp Saint Christopher had be brought back to life.  The dunes protected the camp and God’s beauty was everywhere.  It was a great ending to so much stress, as we were reminded that God’s hand is in everything and He is always there for us.    However, I sincerely hope that was the finale to the 2016 hurricane season!


Te Whakapono, 
The McKelveys 

~~All things are possible for those who believe.  -Mark 9:23~~

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