Slaves & # 039; the descendants have a long history of endurance …

John Brown is behind a fence for his cows outside his home on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, on Tuesday. Thousands of black residents of the island trace their ancestry to slaves in West Africa and are deeply rooted in the tradition

While a potentially catastrophic hurricane Florence was headed toward the Carolinas, Josh Dais looked at the weather reports on his barbershop TV and listened to updates from emergency officials.

But when it comes to deciding whether to flee from the island of St. Helena, where thousands of black residents trace their ancestry to West African slaves who worked in nearby fields, the opinions of the elders of the family may carry as much weight as the of professional meteorologists.

"If Mom does not leave, most people will not leave," said Dais, 29, recalling how she emerged from Tropical Storm Irma last year and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 with relatives at her mother's house. & # 39; If mom and grandma go, then many people go away.

John Brown is behind a fence for his cows outside his home on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, on Tuesday. Thousands of black residents of the island trace their ancestry to slaves in West Africa and are deeply rooted in the tradition

John Brown is behind a fence for his cows outside his home on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, on Tuesday. Thousands of black residents of the island trace their ancestry to slaves in West Africa and are deeply rooted in the tradition

Respect for tradition and deep cultural roots have persisted for generations on the island, which is the largest community of Gullah on the coast of South Carolina.

It is estimated that some 5,000 or more people living here descend from slaves who worked in rice plantations in the area before being released by the Civil War.

Smaller enclaves of Gullah, known as Geechee in some areas, are scattered along the southeastern coast from North Carolina to Florida.

Scholars say that the separation of the continent meant that the Gullah retain much of their African heritage, including a dialect and unique skills, such as fishing with gillnets and weaving baskets.

Destructive hurricanes have not been very frequent in St. Helena Island's past. But the so-called Hurricane Sea Islands of 1893 devastated the area after rolling on land in Savannah, Georgia, and caused the death of some 2,000 people.

Hurricane Florence will bring waves of 83 feet, four feet of rain, a swell of 13 feet and a destruction of 170 billion dollars when it arrives Thursday night. Meteorologists say it could last for days.

A service pole sits in the middle of a swamp at sunset on Sapelo Island, Georgia, a Gullah-Geechee community that is used to running large storms. In the photo on May 16, 2013

A service pole sits in the middle of a swamp at sunset on Sapelo Island, Georgia, a Gullah-Geechee community that is used to running large storms. In the photo on May 16, 2013

A service pole sits in the middle of a swamp at sunset on Sapelo Island, Georgia, a Gullah-Geechee community that is used to running large storms. In the photo on May 16, 2013

The island of Sapelo (pictured in 2013) has been repeatedly hit by hurricanes and is vulnerable to the swells that come from the sea

The island of Sapelo (pictured in 2013) has been repeatedly hit by hurricanes and is vulnerable to the swells that come from the sea

The island of Sapelo (pictured in 2013) has been repeatedly hit by hurricanes and is vulnerable to the swells that come from the sea

Emory Campbell, descendant and scholar of Gullah, recalled riding as a child in an old car on Hilton Head Island, when Hurricane Gracie struck in 1959 and tore off the roof of a hotel.

"We saw some hurricane remains here when I was growing up," Campbell said.

"The wind would blow, you would put some tin against the window, but you would not know much, except for the harsh sounds on the radio coming out of Savannah."

Hurricane Matthew destroyed and felled trees in the vicinity of Beaufort County in 2016, but largely bypassed the modest ranch houses, bungalows and mobile homes on the island of St. Helena.

John Brown, 54, said it was two weeks after Matthew cut down trees with a chain saw at work for a municipal public works department. A giant live oak uprooted by the storm remains intact across the street from Brown's house.

"If my job did not require me to stay, I would be out of here in the blink of an eye," Brown said after giving his four cows fresh water on Tuesday. "I think most of the older people are a bit stubborn, but the younger ones, not so much.

The residents of Santa Elena said people began to fill gas cans and buy supplies on Monday when the governor ordered the evacuations for the entire coast of South Carolina.

People in the Carolinas have been asked to evacuate their homes before the storm arrives. In the photo, a hurricane shelter at Trask Middle School in North Carolina on Tuesday

People in the Carolinas have been asked to evacuate their homes before the storm arrives. In the photo, a hurricane shelter at Trask Middle School in North Carolina on Tuesday

People in the Carolinas have been asked to evacuate their homes before the storm arrives. In the photo, a hurricane shelter at Trask Middle School in North Carolina on Tuesday

Things calmed down on Tuesday when the order for Beaufort County was lifted, although some restaurants and local businesses remained closed.

Florence's footprint remained uncertain on Wednesday. The National Hurricane Center said the storm is expected to decline as it moves toward the Carolinas and may even change direction before it reaches land.

Bertha Bradley was not worried. She and her husband grew up on St. Helena Island and own Bradley's Seafood, a small cement block store where they sell shrimp, plaice and whiting, all captured by their son.

Bradley said he has never favored evacuation before the hurricanes, in part because his great-grandmother never did.

Bradley and her husband missed Gracie in 1959 because they were in Savannah after they got married. A later storm, not sure of which, frightened them enough to leave the island.

But the traffic, she said, was horrible.

"I said," Why get out on the road like this? "They'll kill me on the road," Bradley said. "I should stay at my house, where I have water and If God comes for you, you can not run away from Him.

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