Ouch! Hurricane Matthew Whacks Hilton Head Island

I’ve lived on Hilton Head for 38 years. For a while we evacuated once or twice a hurricane “season”; Lynn and I got used to closing the door and saying “goodbye” to our house and our “stuff”. It’s been (I think) 17 years since our last evacuation and I was out of practice, it didn’t seem as easy saying goodbye this time as it was then. The reports we got back post hurricane didn’t look good and pictures of our neighbor’s house covered in fallen trees left us pretty sure that we wouldn’t have much in the way of “stuff” to come back to.


I made the sign and offered to split the profits with my neighbors after the cost of repairs… who knew rubberneckers would be so tight with their money? Believe it or not, even this house is habitable; no structural damage and only a few relatively minor leaks… they even have cable service!

One of the things we learned from Hurricane Hugo hitting Charleston is that, post-hurricane, storm-chasers arrive even before a lot of residents return. They are looking for work and there’s plenty of work to be found. The problem is, especially when it comes to skilled labor such as carpentry, roofing, electrical, plumbing… the kind of things you really want to be done right the first time, these storm-chasers and your money are gone (along with any hope you might have to recover it) by the time you realize you have a problem. The seemingly obvious solution- hire established local contractors, can also be problematic as they quickly become overwhelmed and start sub-contracting labour to these same storm-chasers. When the inevitable lawsuits start, their insurance limits are quickly exceeded, they go under and you’re still left with a construction mess. My advice is to wait… leave that blue tarp on your roof until you find a local contractor that can fix your damage with his REGULAR crew. This will take patience and steely willpower, but hold on! Things will get better and if you follow my advice, you will thank me after you hear the stories your neighbors will tell.

The projects we have been working on have understandably been but on hold until damage assessments are complete and our clients have recovered from their PHTSD (post hurricane traumatic stress disorder), a term I just made-up to cover a real issue. In the mean time, we’re trying to keep our business solvent while we take care of repairs to our own homes. We are offering to work at half our standard hourly rates until our business recovers. Call us if we can help!


About More Than Architects

I’m Rick Clanton. Michael Ruegamer and I are architects and the principals of Group 3 Design on Hilton Head Island, SC. We provide architecture and interior design services for homes in the US and the Caribbean Islands.
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