CAMDEN, S.C. — For the Eastern Seaboard, Dorian has become the Godot of hurricanes.

Barely moving after hovering over the Bahamas for what seemed an eternity, the former Category 5 storm has occupied weather watchers and coastal observers for several days now. It has potentially forever altered the topography and shape of some Bahamian islands, killing at least five people. In the U.S., Labor Day vacationers to coastal communities from Florida to North Carolina spent the holiday weekend boarding up and moving inland.

But, still, like the two tramps in Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot,” we wait, and wait, and wait, and wait.

I left Pawleys Island on Monday after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation of several coastal counties, though mostly because I had other reasons to head toward higher ground. Most people who have lived through multiple hurricanes tend to wait a bit to see how the meteorologists’ models hold up. Dorian’s, alas, have been a mess.

Admittedly, I’ve kept the television set on the Weather Channel for the latest updates, so I’ve been somewhat over-informed of developments that have varied little over the course of several days. Along my section of coast between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, the weekend weather was mild and sunny as tourists left and many locals dug in. The seemingly premature, pre-emptive evacuations had many with whom I spoke scratching their heads.

Members of my extended family in Charleston were planning to stay in place. Battening down the hatches and weathering hurricanes is a point of pride that seems to have become part of the city’s DNA. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 was the truest test of such confidence. My brother-in-law, who holed up for Hugo, reported watching a large tree “hopping” down his street, which had become a swiftly moving river. He swore he and his family would seek higher ground in the future.

How soon we forget. Or, is something else in play when people become dismissive of official warnings? As of this writing, Dorian’s intentions are nowhere near clear, although it has diminished considerably and is bending northward. Also on the minds of many non-evacuees is last year’s non-event with Hurricane Florence, which failed to keep its date with calamity. On Monday, when I asked a cashier at a Litchfield, S.C., gas station if she was worried, she quickly replied “nope.”

She did all her worrying last year and she’s not allowing herself to become so agitated this time around. “I’m not

doing that again,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere.” Debbie Smittle, a rental agent in Litchfield with whom I spoke Tuesday, was similarly disposed. “I’ve been here 19 years. I’m not going anywhere.”

Partly, such intransigence is surely attributable to hurricane news-fatigue. One can only sustain a sense of white-knuckle urgency for so long. The weeklong Dorian coverage, magnified by the worst-case scenario taking place in the Bahamas, has been exhausting to watch — much less endure.

Another factor here is last year’s massive preparation for Florence, which, after punishing North Carolina, essentially skipped the areas in South Carolina that had been flagged as likely disaster zones. The large-scale flooding expected in the coastal village of Georgetown, where three rivers converge, thankfully didn’t materialize.

Even if such preparations should prove for naught, what’s the alternative? Understandably, government officials want to get everyone to relative safety under the banner of better-safe-than-sorry. Given the high-density population along the coastline, sooner beats later.

But when storms such as Dorian begin losing intensity — and weather models prove (yet again) to be fallible — skepticism becomes cynicism and caution is just a blinking traffic light. By midday Tuesday, the hurricane had diminished to a Category 2 storm. Its outer rings were barely brushing West Palm Beach 100 miles away. Models were showing it heading north along the coastline, and possibly avoiding landfall.

From experience, this much we know: Nature has a will of her own. Sometimes, as with Hugo, she makes a right and cuts a swath through the central Carolinas. Other times, as in Beckett’s existential romp, Godot never shows. The paradox within the dilemma is that we humans seem to gravitate toward the tragic and the absurd, often at once. Thus, we thank God that the hurricane missed us and yet feel strangely disappointed — all that for nothing! — and then beset with shame and compassion for others less fortunate.

There but for the luck of the draw, we console ourselves — this time. Or maybe not. In “Godot,” the curtain falls without an answer.

Kathleen Parker’s email address is

Kathleen Parker’s email address is

(4) comments


And nothing about Alabama? Trump isn't going to like this.

Comment deleted.

And Moscow Mitch, the Russian enabler


East Carolina University is closing at noon tomorrow. Some classes have been cancelled before that and students have already left. . It's not the wind so m as the rain. Some locations could get 15 inches of rain. Even if you get through the storm okay you are left without food, water and the ability to go anywhere. Staying is just not smart.


I was in a hurricane in N Charleston 1978 (?) after my husband shipped out from the Naval base. Only Agnes 1972 was worse in my mind, because I had finished all my handwritten wedding thank you notes finally and a lot came back mangled and some never did and weren't received either. Calls about that dribbled in and thank you rewriting became a lifestyle for awhile after. I was surprised how often "I did send one" was unacceptable. The people who got them apparently shared them and so "everyone" wanted one, according to my MIL. Everyone already had, though, said the 20 year old I was, who had literally labored over personalizing each one as was done back then. I was alone in a Charleston motel watching my car bob around in the parking lot and it was scary. But I still hate Agnes.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!