The Dorian decision: Did you stay or did you go?
When Gov. Henry McMaster ordered a mandatory evacuation of people along the South Carolina coast on Labor Day, Daniel Island residents faced a tough decision - stay or evacuate?
As Dorian loomed, residents were bombarded with a multitude of media predictions. With forecasters unsure where the storm would hit and the uncertainty of Dorian’s strength, residents remained on edge. Many locals decided to stick it out and weather the storm, while others braved traffic and headed to higher ground for a “hurrication.”
Lt. Patrick McLaughlin, commanding officer for the City of Charleston Police Department’s Team 5 on Daniel Island, reported that he didn’t have data on the exact number of people who may have evacuated, but it appeared most decided to hunker down.
“I believe a lot of folks stayed in the area,” he said. “I saw a lot of people out and about immediately after the storm.”
Stephanie McManus, along with her parents Steve and Rita, decided to pack up their pets and head to Hendersonville, NC.
“The decision to stay or leave the island is always difficult,” explained McManus. “The scope of the storm this year left our family uneasy and our dogs in complete panic. When a family member’s healthcare needs and work meets a natural disaster, you pack the car with the dogs and a few essentials then go. Thankfully my job with Rodan & Fields allows me to work from anywhere there is WiFi and therefore the flexibility to leave.”
After keeping an eye on storm coverage for days, the Belcher family made the decision to remain on Daniel Island.
“We decided to stay once the forecast called for a Category 2,” said Becky Belcher. “Had the forecast called for a Category 3, we would have evacuated. We feel very fortunate that we experienced only minor tree damage.”
Daniel Island newcomer Natalie Perry and her rescue dog, Manny (featured in last month’s Daniel Island News) decided to stay. Perry was anxious because she had never experienced a hurricane, but her happy hound help ease the situation.
“Since Dorian was my first hurricane I was pretty nervous, but Manny’s indifferent attitude helped me stay calm,” said Perry.
Chance Harridge, owner of the local mobile healthcare company GoMed, stayed to support people remaining in town. The DI resident’s business was able to provide locals with needed medical services throughout the hurricane.
“We know people deserve quality healthcare despite the conditions and were willing to go the extra mile,” exclaimed Harridge. “We are DI residents…we are on call seven days a week and can even schedule around hurricanes.”
According to Daniel Island officials, the island sustained minimal damage, including downed trees and debris. By Friday, relieved residents returned to life as usual, busy cleaning up damage or relaxing at re-opened local restaurants.
Daniel Island mom Heidi Perez felt fortunate she escaped the wrath of Dorian and wanted to help others. Perez reached out on Facebook and posted the following message, “We got lucky over on our pocket of DI, but I know others didn’t fare well at all. I’ll be free around 3 and would love to help clean up! Let me know if you need an extra set of hands or if you know someone on the island who isn’t able to clean up.”
The following day, Perez and her young daughter, Vera, happily helped with clean-up and voiced the sentiment of most locals, “I love our little community.”