My New Dentist Life: Hurricane Joaquin

Editor’s note: This is the latest article in a New Dentist Now blog series, My New Dentist Life, following a new dentist’s first year experiences out of dental school. The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author and are not intended to reflect the views, positions or policies of the ADA or the New Dentist Committee. To read previous articles in the series, visit ADA.org/mynewdentistlife.

Dr. Hobart

Dr. Hobart

Today started off like any other day. I woke up to the sun shining through my window, I went to the gym and monotonously ran on the treadmill, I took my dogs for a walk, I took a shower, and I started doing some chores around the house. All the while I was anxiously awaiting a text message from my office manager to tell me whether or not to head to work this morning. The text came. “Don’t come in until Wednesday,” she said.

Another day off of work. This didn’t surprise me, as the torrential downpours from Saturday up until yesterday had left much of Columbia completely flooded, roads and property destroyed. I spent yesterday at home catching up on things that I normally do not get to do during the workweek (and Netflix). We have even had two nights in a row of curfews from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and if you were seen out and about, you could be arrested! My office manager was adamant that the doctors, staff, and patients remain safe until we are given the go ahead.

What I didn’t expect was the next email that I received from my apartment complex with the subject line “EVACUATE.” According to the email, a dam breached at one of the lakes near where I live (the Arcadia Lakes area) and there is a flash flood warning in effect. It was MANDATORY to evacuate. I panicked. I ran to the window, expecting to see a disaster movie-caliber scene unfolding. Nope. It was sunny and dry.

Growing up, my mother constantly mentioned her two fantastic pieces of advice: 1) Be Nice, and 2) Don’t Be Dumb. The second means that if somebody tells you to evacuate, even if it doesn’t look that bad outside, you listen. It also means that if you see floodwaters, you don’t try to drive through them — you abandon your car. So I took my mom’s advice, packed a small bag with clothes and plenty of water, grabbed my dogs, and got the heck out of there! Not immediately knowing what to do, I first called the kennel to drop off my dogs and keep them safe. After that, all I could think to do was to go to a Starbucks out of town and use their free WiFi to write this article until I hear word that things are okay. I have to say, hearing information about your neighborhood’s unfolding emergency situation on NPR is little surreal. Since I left, the evacuation has been taken down a notch from mandatory to voluntary and I may get to return home tonight.

With Hurricane Joaquin, South Carolina has seen rains that it hasn’t seen in years. According to one article that I read, it has been 1000 years — but really, who was collecting and meticulously recording rainfall 1000 years ago? Another article stated that one area of Columbia experienced the rainiest day in one spot in the United States in over 16 years. That’s pretty impressive.

I experienced this rain while driving from Columbia to Beaufort and back on the highway over the weekend. I had experienced rains like this during monsoon season in Arizona and when I briefly lived in Florida, where you can’t see a foot in front of you and hazard lights are your friend, but I had never been evacuated or instructed to boil my water before drinking or cooking with it. Many areas of the city are completely devastated and the University of South Carolina campus still does not have water and students are forced to use port-o-potties. Public schools and churches are closed the rest of the week. I feel very fortunate that I haven’t been affected too badly by this. My biggest worry so far has been whether or not I will be able to pay my bills this month with not being able to work. I know that many people have much bigger problems than that—like severe property damage. There have even been 11 rain-related deaths in the state so far. Please send your positive thoughts this way.

Dr. Emily Hobart is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and an estranged Canadian who grew up in Glendale, Arizona, where she attended dental school at Midwestern University. She is now finding her way as a new dentist in Columbia, South Carolina. In her free time, she loves running, rock climbing, pub trivia, karaoke and traveling!

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