The post on Facebook made it all too real –Manditory Evacuation. That un-planned moment when you begin to realize everything all at once. The mental process flows through your brain like your own personal hurricane. Where to go? What to take? How long will it last? What about the house and belongings where I live on Tybee?
The first urge is to run around like crazy and start to grab things and put them in the car. Wait a minute. You can’t take it all so take a deep breath and get it together. After determining the essentials are all in the car it is time to head out of town. The plan is to leave early, as soon as possible, to be ahead of the traffic. Nine hours later in the wee hours of the morning the nice weather and welcome arms of family awaits. In this case- Alabama. Next time is spent with the Weather Channel, CNN, streaming feed from the Savannah local TV stations which are combed non stop in efforts to know what is happening. Don’t forget those people who did not evacuate and choose to stay in Savannah and now have become social media “correspondents” sharing video and information faster than the main stream media can.
Birmingham is far enough away from Savannah to be safe. In fact, it is far away in many ways. No ocean (a good thing at this point), and to its credit are rolling hills and valleys, green trees and grass, less humidity and no sand. But then again…No beach, No fresh seafood. No River Street. No City Market. No Ty bee Island And …no moss on the trees. It’s very much the rest of the world and that is what separates Savannah Georgia, to me, from anywhere else in the world. Birmingham is called the magic city. However, I should not compare. After all ,it would not be fair to Birmingham or the great people that put out a great experience for their patrons.
Savannah, too, is a magic place that in some ways time forgot. Old homes, pristine squares, great attractions and restaurants. Time seems to forget Savannah and up until now the hurricanes seemed to forget it too.
Somewhere between realizing I don’t have enough socks and underwear and realizing my social media amateur correspondents are so drunk now that they are calling it hurricane Michael instead of Matthew I realize it is well…OK after 36 hours of this it is time to get out and see something in Birmingham Alabama. It is where I grew up.
Brookwood Mall is in Homewood which is a suburb of Birmingham. It borders the wealthiest section of town with the finest homes. It became the destination. Across from the mall itself is a restaurant called Bio, Tuscan Grille. Outside are tables and even a outside fireplace and inside are high ceilings, white table cloths and an upscale fare. It gives a slight sense of Savannah. At least an echo of familiarity. Lobster bisque,bruschetta in numerous varieties and lots of balsamic vinegarette. The service was great. The atmosphere seems good. The food was probably great too. In fact, the only thing that kept it from being excellent was one underlying truth. It’s not in Savannah and neither am I.
So at the risk of being sappy, what have we learned? “No place like home”. I don’t want to use endless cliches to finish this blog. Instead, I think I realized the disappointment comes from within when you realize an evacuation is not a vacation. Also it brings home in many ways the realization that in times like these people decide what is important to them. Some stay. Some go. Some play Some pray and some just have a party and get drunk. My exceeding gratitude to all the people who stayed as well as volunteers from other states who worked tirelessly to restore power, services and feed and shelter us all . You are made of gold!
See you back in Savannah because our sturdy oaks trees and fine old homes have seen hurricanes before and stood the test of time. Soon the restaurants will be cooking and hotels back up to steam so we will be ready for you to come home if you live here and if you don’t live here take a real VACATION not evacuation!