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Those who stayed, those who left
Crews continue to work on removing downed trees across Bryan County. - photo by Ted O'Neil

Two nextdoor neighbors in the Buckhead East subdivision made different choices ahead of Hurricane Matthew and say they are happy with their decisions.

Raphael Brooks said he and his wife Melanie were stationed with the Army in Korea from 2009-2012 and experienced a typhoon that he said was far worse.

"It was one of the worst typhoons to ever hit Korea, so I've seen what a huge amount of water can do, and we survived that so we decided to stay," he said Sunday afternoon. 

His neighbor, Rei Osorio, left town Thursday with his wife, mother and mother-in-law. He said it took them almost seven hours to reach Perry, then Friday they continued on to Atlanta.

"We didn't think the risk was worth it, especially in our situation," he said. "It's definitely an expense, but it's something people should probably build in to their long-term budget."

Brooks, who stayed along with his wife, their son Shaquan and his wife's mother, said they took steps to prepare on Friday, including checking flashlights and buying canned goods.

"We lost power at 8:15 p.m. Friday and it was back on at 11:10 a.m. Saturday, and we still had water," he said. "It got pretty loud and it was pitch black outside, so we just listened to the gusts."

Brooks said when daybreak Saturday came and a small tree in his front yard was still standing perfectly straight, he knew everything would be fine.

"We didn't base our decision on the news or what the governor said, we just went by experience," he said. "When I saw it (Hurricane Matthew) go from a category 4 to a category 3 by Flordia, I knew we were staying."

Osorio and his family, meanwhile, arrived back in town Sunday afternoon. They had to exit I-16 eastbound at Highway 301, then snaked their way through Claxton to Glennville and eventually to Highway 144. He said Glennville appeared to be hit much worse than Bryan County.

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