Why I'm staying put during Matthew

Story highlights

  • Lolita Huckaby: As a former reporter, I know the best way to know the story is to be on location
  • But I respect decision of my friends who load up their vehicles and head for the hills ahead of Hurricane Matthew, she says

Lolita Huckaby has been a resident of Beaufort, South Carolina, for 38 years and is a former reporter for The Beaufort Gazette and Savannah Morning News. She's a native of the flat lands of North Carolina -- Robeson County -- where tornadoes are a much bigger threat than hurricanes. The views expressed are her own.

Beaufort, South Carolina (CNN)The hardest part is always the waiting.

Coastal South Carolina residents have been waiting since Tuesday for Hurricane Matthew to make up its mind and move north. Hurricane season is not something to be taken lightly when you live in the Lowcountry, but it's been a number of years since this part of South Carolina, land of the swaying moss and white columned homes, has experienced a direct hit.
And we don't know at this moment -- Thursday afternoon -- if we'll get that hit. Our governor, Nikki Haley, told us Wednesday to head west, but the multiple weather forecasts were not so convincing. Since Wednesday, the chief topic of discussion has been, "Do I stay or do I go?"
    Lolita Huckaby
    I'm staying.
    I'm here because that's what I do. As a former reporter, I know the best way to know the story is to be on location. I'm not a thrill seeker, one of those adrenalin-pumping individuals who like to walk on the beach when the winds have already ripped the warning flags from the poles.
    I evacuated the Lowcountry in 1989 for Hugo, which veered at the last minute and came in north of Charleston, destroying thousands of homes, including a beautiful one owned by some people I cared very much about. The anxiety of waiting to know what the storm was going to do, waiting in a location 200 miles away, was excruciating, and I swore I'd never do it again.
    But there are plenty of good reasons others are leaving. As with any major decision, there are factors to consider. Are you making that decision for just yourself or is a family involved, a family perhaps with small children who have been out of school since Wednesday and are already going a little stir crazy? Are you responsible for older parents or perhaps a medically frail neighbor? How secure is your home -- do large trees loom over the roof that might topple if winds reach 100 mph-plus? Can you stand being without electricity for an undetermined period of time? How easy would it be for you to evacuate pets -- dogs, cats, horses?
    It's not an easy decision. Gov. Haley reminded her constituents that if you don't evacuate to a safe location, you could be jeopardizing the life of an emergency response person who might be called upon to rescue your sorry self if things get bad. That's a guilt trip that's already motivated some folks to head out of town.
    But for those who are still here -- and while it's impossible to tell how many folks have ventured out onto I-95 and headed away from the coast -- Beaufort is a lot like I imagine other waterfront communities along the Florida, Georgia and Carolinas coast are right now -- something of a ghost town. Stores are closed, gas stations are shuttered, not so much because they are out of gas but because some store executives elsewhere made a call and ruled on the side of caution.
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    The moss is blowing gently in the breeze (really, "gently"), the sun is shining intermittently and more sailboats than usual are anchored out in the Beaufort River, part of the Intracoastal Waterway.
    I respect the decision of my friends who load up their vehicles and head for the hills. It's a personal decision and from listening to the conversations of those who are still here, I know it's sometimes not an easy decision.
    If a Category 5 storm were barreling down on my part of the world, with all the projections calling for a direct hit, yes, maybe I'd leave. But maybe not.