The following is a short story(written in stages) based on a pub easily found in every one's imagination. All characters and the places are in the imagination as well...
Waterston, South Carolina, the setting for this story, is located on the South Carolina shore between Myrtle Beach and Charleston. It is a sleepy, off the beaten path sort of town, that in order to get there, you have to be going there. Waterston had that small town flavor that one would expect to see in an old 1960's Walt Disney movie with white picket fences, beautifully landscaped lawns and clean white sidewalks with all the trimmings. Scott Paper Company, employed over half the town's residents, and the fishing industry, which most of Waterston had been influenced by, in one way or another, took care of the rest. As the older towns folks liked to say, 'If the fish are running, so is Waterston'.
Historically, The Civil War came calling in 1864 making a brief stop near Waterston. "The Battle of Three Forks", which started with such promise, quickly faded to a skirmish, and by mid morning a truce was declared, giving both sides just enough time to make it home for lunch. Tailgaters, who were there to observe and watch a good battle, loaded up their wagons and left very disappointed. After that, most events with any significance(except The Barnum & Bailey Circus), seemed to slip by Waterston, on there way south to Charleston or north to Myrtle Beach.
The storm continued to blow and gain strength as it fed off the warm water typically found in the Caribbean. To this point, it had chosen to stay offshore, missing the major land masses full of natives and tourists, which obviously, had the most to lose in the event of a direct hit. It was tracking in a WNW direction, and with its winds approaching fifty miles per hour, by late Monday night this storm had officially been named TS Cathy.
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
|BATON DOWN THE HATCHES|
|BEARING DOWN ON EAST COAST|
Hurricane Donna was not only the most powerful hurricane to strike Waterston, Donna was one of the strongest storms to ever hit the continental United States. On September 1, 1956, Donna slammed into the South Carolina Coast with winds exceeding one hundred fifty miles per hour. In it's wake it left a path of destruction miles wide, a death toll in the hundreds and a price tag of 600 million dollars for its trouble. Not until Camille hit the gulf coast in the fall of 1969 had a storm been more formidable.
Meanwhile, in Waterston business at The Watering Hole was good. Storms always did tend to bring people together, and 'hurricane parties' were responsible for as many death's during a storm as the storm surge itself. But although the mood was jovial, there was a quiet caution associated with this storm, that was unlike any before. So, to get the latest pulse, both Audrey and Rick met at the bar to chat with patrons, get the latest weather updates and have some beers. It was Tuesday afternoon and Cathy's numbers were starting to get serious.
Hurricane Cathy's numbers were becoming serious. As of late Tuesday night her wind speed had climbed to ninety miles per hour, and with landfall expected in several days, people were on edge. There was plenty of time to evacuate, problem was, evacuation routes ran north and south, not east and west, and this made it more difficult to move at the last minute. Because of this, Audrey and Rick were staying put, at The Watering Hole. There was a small group of regulars that decided to ride the storm out as well, but this small group seemed to sense the danger that existed in struggling against mother nature. But The Watering Hole needed them, and it was time to stand up for this little bar and preserve the many memories that had been created there. 'Rally round the Hole', became the new battle cry. The Watering Hole needed protection and that is just what town folks aimed to provide. There numbers increased from a few regulars, to several dozen people, all there to do whatever they could. Besides, this was a local landmark that had been around as long as most people could remember, so Audrey and Rick just appreciated the help.
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
On Wednesday around noon, The National Weather Service declared hurricane warnings from Savannah, Georgia north to the Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Winds had reached one hundred ten miles per hour, and landfall was forecasted for late Friday afternoon. The only salvation was the gulf stream, which may reposition the storm's direction, putting it on a more northerly path and cause Cathy to miss the east coast entirely. But the current path the hurricane was on had taken it out of harm's way, away from more populated areas and therefore casualties had been low.
At least the storm was waiting for the Friday to make its appearance, thus allowing people time to gather and help one another get ready for Cathy's havoc. They needed the weekend recover both physically and mentally from the storm's assault. But even with the growing number of helpful volunteers, Audrey and Rick felt overwhelmed by the work still needing to be done. The windows needed to be taped, anything that wasn't bolted down needed to be moved inside(tables, chairs, umbrellas and furniture,etc.) and any openings boarded up with plywood. But the biggest job (and the hardest) was protecting The Watering Hole from the storm surge. The bar was lucky, sitting several hundred feet above sea level, helped to avoid some of the surge naturally and sand bags would do the rest. The Watering Hole would be well protected. Just bring on the sand!
Finding sand would certainly not be an issue, but getting it to the bar quickly might pose a problem. They needed trucks, and the two things Waterston had an abundance of was pickup trucks and good ole boys. Matter of fact, Waterston may have more pickup trucks, per capita, than any town in the entire state! Subsequently, when good ole boys get together (a twelve pack in tow), things just seemed to get done.
Cathy was bearing down on the east coast like a predator stalks it's prey. Churning and feeding off itself, lapping up the warm water in the North Atlantic, the storm seemed to have a mind of its own. It was a little over a day from landfall, and Cathy showed no sign of slowing down or changing course. It appeared destined to strike between Georgia and North Carolina with a vengeance.
Thursday, 1 September 2011
The good ole boy network reached out for for help, and help soon help arrived. Sixteen more pickups, and close to fifty more abled bodies showed up to work. Building walls of sand was a priority, and by Thursday afternoon, close to one hundred people were helping, or had helped, build these walls, board up windows and doors and help fortify the bar's defensive posture. Audrey and Rick were both running on sheer adrenaline, but they had no time to spare. They were both exhausted, but they had things the way needed them and the bar seemed well protected. Though some people had returned home, many of the folks that had worked so hard on Audrey's property stayed behind to gauge the effectiveness of their handy work. They would roll the dice and 'ride the storm out' hoping for the best, but expecting the worse.
Friday, 2 September 2011
The Weather Channel referred to it as the 'calm before the storm' when it began it's coverage of Hurricane Cathy early Friday morning, and although landfall was forecast for later that evening, there was little hint of things to come. By noon on Friday, the rain had started, the winds had picked up significantly and the dark clouds had started to gather. The regulars had also started to gather as well, and business was brisk at the Watering Hole.
Mother nature plays it's hand...
You know, just when you think you've got something figured out, the game changes, and that's exactly what happened. The storm had found itself tangled up in the gulf stream that miraculously changed it path. Just ninety miles out, mother nature had redirected this storm, complements of unforeseen high pressure system nudging it in a slightly more northern trek, taking Waterston completely out of Cathy's sites and redirecting its fury further up the Atlantic seaboard, and although Waterston had to deal with some bad weather, it had escaped the worst of it, as Cathy skirted the Outer Banks of North Carolina, up the east coast, finally making landfall near Nantucket Island, but by then the storm been down graded right off the scale.
These things happen. This was not the first time nor would it be the last time Mother Nature would have the final say in Waterson's normally balmy climate.
As you might imagine, the folks of Waterston were delighted, and although there was cleanup work to be done, it was much less than the town folks had anticipated. The Scott Paper Company ramped back up to three shifts starting the following Sunday night and the trawlers went back to sea looking for that big catch that usually follow big storms such as Cathy.
|Good Ol Boys|