Wednesday October 5, 2016
Swarming around a box of pizzas, a hungry group of international interns were settling in Wednesday night at The Greenwood Building after finishing an evacuation bus ride that lasted more than four hours.
“We had to leave everything behind — even our shoes, even my PS4,” Vhon San Miguel said with a chuckle. “But now I don’t care. My life is more important.”
Among those fleeing the coast as Hurricane Matthew approaches were interns who work for Greenwood Communities and Resorts at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resorts in Hilton Head. The parent company is housed in The Greenwood Building, and staff frantically worked to ensure the evacuating interns had a place to stay.
“They live on company property there, and all of their families are overseas,” said Lesley Lane, an executive assistant at Greenwood Communities and resorts. “Hopefully it’ll be more like a vacation than some sort of evacuation.”
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, they boarded buses provided and driven by volunteers from the Bradley-based company Wright Travel and drove for about 4 hours on country roads — avoiding the congestion on I-26. Aileen Acosta — from the Philippines — said she enjoyed seeing the farmlands and smaller cities they passed through. She, along with fellow Philippines-natives Audrey Tacaldo and San Miguel, were eating the pizza provided by staff at the temporary shelter.
Deborah Gould, corporate director of human resources with Greenwood Communities and Resorts, gave the interns a rundown of the area — advising them that the nearby Mill House had plenty of beer if they wanted to grab a drink. She told them to stay within a few blocks for their safety, and let the group know they’d be driven around Greenwood in the coming days to get out of the shelter for a while.
Some in the group dined while others checked out their living quarters: rooms outfitted with donated air mattresses and bedding. Jovan Tanasijevic and the other four Serbian interns he was with Wednesday night had never had to evacuate an area before.
“It doesn’t seem real, you know,” he said. “We don’t have the feeling it’s going to hit us. Back home we don’t have any hurricanes.”
Contact Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.