SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – When Matthew appeared to be headed right for us, the order came down to evacuate.
But not everyone heeded that order and decided to stay, for various reasons
They now have different opinions on whether they would ride out the next Tropical Storm.
“There’s an 8 hour period when this was a horrible decision,” says Marc Stuckart.
A decision Mark Stuckart had to make on his own inside his Spanish Wells home while caring for his cancer stricken wife and his son’s two infant babies.
“Because Joan was sick we came up with a hard stop,” said Marc Stuckart. “stay or go Friday morning.”
“I said even if i’m wrong, we’ll just leave on Saturday. Except that I forgot the trees were down from here to Cheyenne.”
“It was a silly decision. We’ll never do it again,” smiles Jeff Wilson.
That’s what Jeff Wilson says now.
But as Matthew arrived, he stayed with his wife Gerri and two other couples in a townhouse right on the water in Harbourtown.
“We were thinking we are way up above water problems in a concrete steel building,” said Jeff. “We didn’t think we were in harms way.”
“They were projecting the winds to be about the same as Hermine,” thought Gerri Wilson. “So we thought, its not going to be that bad.”
But both Stuckart and Wilson determined early on that it would be bad.
“It sounds like a freight train, the wind is rolling all off the place. every pine cone, pebble and rock is bouncing off the windows.”
“It was about 12:30 when the power went out and I said, oh no. Now we are in trouble,” explained Gerri Wilson.
“What was the moment when you thought, this wasn’t the smartest thing ive done?”
“When i heard the tree hit the house,” said Stuckart.
A tree crashed through his roof, right into the master bathroom.
“When the tree hit it was a large crash and the house shook.”
“What goes through your mind when you see the tree?”
“Uh oh. This wasn’t a good idea.”
“You know something big is happening, you can feel something big is happening, but then when you have an opening to it it enhances it it makes you scared.”
Meanwhile the Wilsons had a different problem, rain and water.
“The water that came from the north had nowhere to go,” said Jeff.
‘We were shoveling until 7 a.m. Pretty much non stop,” said Gerri Wilson. “The three of us with towels, brooms, mops and buckets from the front out to our emergency exit trying to swish it down the stairs.
“We had everything back here, everything folded up and there was about an hour when we were hiding back here as the winds picked up and the doors were buckling.”
Both families made it through the storm without major injuries. But does that mean they’d stay the next time?
“I am glad we stayed, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything,” said Gerri Wilson. I know it sounds odd, but just an incredible thing to watch the force of nature. Knock wood we were safe. But it really was an amazing experience. I don’t know if i’d stay again.”
“The tornadoes, i wouldn’t stay again because of that,” said Jeff Wilson. “The hurricane damage wasn’t that bad, its the storms that came off of it.”
“You are faced with the exact same situation, what do you do?”
“Exactly the same thing,” said Stuckart. “I had a special situation, a terminally ill wife, i couldn’t really move here, and because of that i chose to stay. the only thing i would do differently is buy a bigger chainsaw. If I didn’t have the same situation with my wife being terminally ill, I would leave, because there’s no.. there’s substantially more devastation than you think about for the relatively small inconvenience of going to Augusta.”
“I was monumentally overconfident, incredibly overconfident in my abilities to understand how storms work, my ability to react to the storm and change my mind later. that overconfidence luckily didn’t hurt me,” said Stuckart.