Last week when we decided to evacuate Savannah as Hurricane Irma approached, I wasn’t happy. The next day as we drove west to Macon, GA, we found out Rivers End Campground on Tybee Island, where we had been staying, had issued a mandatory evacuation. Soon after, the whole island was ordered to evacuate.
When an evacuation is ordered, power to the island is turned off (this happened with Hurricane Matthew last year). All that to say, we couldn’t have stayed even if we wanted to. At least this way, we were leaving when we wanted to, and at least a day ahead of the traffic.
The Drive Out of Savannah
Speaking of which, our 200ish miles due west were a breeze. It was a Thursday, so we assumed most people would wait until they were out of work on Friday to evacuate their homes. Sure enough, just a day later, the interstate was a parking lot.
This is the traffic view of Google Maps when we were on our way to Macon:
Finding a Place to Stay
We pulled into Claystone Park, a county campground on Lake Tobesofkee, without a site reservation. Our reservation didn’t start for three more days, but we were told we could dry camp in the boat ramp area until then.
After a long wait at the entry gate, the gentleman in the booth announced he had a site for us right away. The people who were planning to stay there had cancelled.
We proceeded to pull into the most beautiful site in the campground. We were on the far edge of the campground with an unobstructed view of the lake. Though it wasn’t the wilderness, it was its own kind of stunning. And it beat parking lot camping any day.
In the midst of all this, I was humbled. I had thrown such a fit about having to leave Savannah, and here we were in a beautiful, safe place with hookups.
Weathering the Storm
We stayed in Macon for nine nights. What was left of Hurricane Irma came through on Monday, Sept. 11. The rain wasn’t too heavy, but the wind gusts were strong. We ended up taking in our slides for a few hours, and of course everything outside had been stored.
Video (hover over it for play button):
The power went out during the storm, and we didn’t get it back until the wee hours on Wednesday. But that was the worst of it for us. Macon as a whole suffered quite a bit from the wind. Trees were downed all over, and I think pretty much everyone lost power. When we were out at dinner on Thursday the 14th, there was a family there who still didn’t have power back.
Getting Back to Savannah
Our reservation in Macon ended this morning, Sept. 16. We had nine days’ credit to use at Rivers End on Tybee Island, but we weren’t sure we could get back in. Inspectors had to examine all the bridges to the island before anyone was allowed back on, and that took a few days. After that, the park staff had to do some assessment and cleaning up.
Earlier this week, the phones were still down at the park. So we emailed requesting a reservation of Sept. 16-30. When we heard back, we were told they couldn’t accommodate us for the full two weeks. So Eric started for a state park 40 minutes away, where he could buy a Georgia State Park Pass. Plan B was to stay at a nearby state park and bide our time to get back into Rivers End. Just a few minutes after he left, I got a voicemail from Rivers End, saying they could get us in for our dates!
We left Macon around 10 a.m. this morning. Including a quick stop for fuel, the trip was smooth and uneventful. Rivers End was still pretty vacant when we arrived–weird to see, since it was practically full when we left. But people should be coming back in over the next few days.
The Story Isn’t Over Yet
We registered with the sweet staff in the office, came out to be escorted to our site…and the Jeep was dead.
We were the afternoon’s entertainment for the guys on staff, as well as a few guests, as we blocked traffic right outside the office for the next couple of hours. AAA eventually came and confirmed we needed a new battery. But they didn’t have one because Hurricane Irma wiped out their inventory. Fortunately, they at least jumped the Jeep so we could move out of the way and into our site. The Jeep had to be jumped twice during the short jaunt.
Long story short, Eric reached out to the local Jeep club for help. A guy named Dustin picked him up from Rivers End and drove him to buy a battery he had found for us. They’re outside in the gathering darkness, installing the battery right now.
Funny enough, Savannah didn’t flood, get heavy winds, or suffer any damage to speak of. Based on what we heard in the office, we got more of the storm in Macon than they did here.
But I’m glad we went through what we did. As cliche as it may sound, I learned from it. Moving forward, I’m going to try to silence my complaints, knowing there’s something in store for me that I don’t know about. This time it was a beautiful lake view and a lot of kindness in the hearts of strangers.