Ordered to Evacuate

There was something I didn’t count on when I settled into my second travel assignment in Savannah, Georgia. Hurricane Dorian was making its way up the Florida coast and my new campsite was in the evacuation zone. I was at a loss as to what to do or where to go. I had only been at the hospital for two weeks when I learned about the hospital’s hurricane plan of action. 

     The hospital implements putting two teams into action. Team A comes in prepared to stay for several days, working in 12-hour shifts, and remaining there until the hospital is released to open for outpatients once again. Team B then comes in as relief to also work 12-hour shifts, but they could go home after their shifts instead of sleeping at the hospital. I wasn’t on either team so I volunteered to be wherever they needed me in the department to help out. I still needed time to learn the ropes, but I wanted to prove that I was there to help in any way possible. I’m not sure the supervisor knew what to do with me so she told me to take the time off and I would be called back in when all clear was given.

     My concern turned to what I needed to do to protect my tiny home and myself. I kept wondering if the campsite would be safe. I didn’t know where I could go with the trailer if I had to move it further inland. There were other campsites not far from where I’m located, yet they were all full at the time I moved down to Georgia. Perhaps they wouldn’t be any safer than where I was now. 





    I wanted to stay in the trailer, but with the calls for evacuations, I decided to get a hotel room for a few days. I was lucky enough to find a room at the Holiday Inn Express, which was only two minutes away from the camp. The campsite notified me that the front office would be closing down for as long as necessary as a precaution. The next thing to do was pack strategically. I packed important files, a firesafe, extra water and food, and scrubs for work. To be honest, I felt foolish checking into a hotel when the weather was so perfect. The day was typically hot for the area, but the sun was shining brightly against a beautiful blue sky.

     At first, I tried to treat the hotel stay as a mini vacation. I could watch movies on the big screen tv while relaxing in bed, play on my iPad, or write on my laptop. By the next day I was ready to go back home. The skies were just starting to cloud up and the trees were gently swaying in the breeze, but once again it looked like any other day. I was surprised to see cars at the KFC when all the other fast food chains had closed their doors. I needed to get out so I walked to the TA gas station for a new phone charger. The woman working the register said there were no plans to shut down the gas station so they kept working. I thought a hot meal sounded good so I made my way back to KFC. All the cars were now gone, yet I still took a chance to open the door. The door was locked, but I heard a voice call out from the pick-up window around the corner of the building, who said I could just order something from the window. The young woman at the window said there were only four workers left with no idea of when they were going home. I was struck by their friendliness and humor at making the best of the situation. They are one of the reasons I took this assignment in the south. They were a true example of southern hospitality.

The rain and higher winds came later that night. I knew there were possibilities of the power going out or damage to homes and local business, but that didn’t scare me. I just didn’t want to lose my little home. I wasn’t able to move it out of the line of the trees standing tall behind the trailer. I prayed that I wouldn’t see one of those trees crashed down on the top of my trailer. I actually slept through the storm. Probably because it only was a summer storm and not category winds as were feared. The cleared up skies greeted me as I opened the hotel curtains. I quickly dressed and drove over to the campground. I was so relieved that the trailer was still standing that I admit I cried when I got inside the door. Water was running, the A/C was working, and I had electricity. I rushed back to the hotel to pack up and was back at the slightly deserted campsite within 45 minutes. 

     As grateful as I was to unpack and relax once more in my small space, I knew I had been lucky this time around. The hurricane winds didn’t go inland as first suspected, the campsite was spared damage, and everyone I met from the KFC to the Holiday Inn Express were helpful, friendly, and giving. I’m certainly learning, on a daily basis, that a traveler’s life is full of unexpected surprises. Tomorrow I head back to work and intend to learn as much as I can until my next assignment rolls around.