Sliding Patio Doors Help Carolina Home Withstand Hurricane Matthew

No matter where you live or what kind of house you live in, there are natural forces we can't control. Out west, mudslides, earthquakes and wildfires wreak havoc on homes. Tornadoes and thunderstorms are known to torment the Midwest. And out east, it’s no surprise to see a tropical storm or hurricane in the forecast.

Despite the risks, we buy and build homes in the hopes that they will outlast whatever weather may come our way. Everything is fine – until a natural disaster strikes.

When a weather threat becomes imminent, we fear the worst. We wonder if our homes have what it takes to stand up to Mother Nature’s siege.

When Guy Thomson heard that Hurricane Matthew was approaching earlier this year, he wondered if their beloved Fripp Island, S.C., home would survive in one piece. Two days before the hurricane hit, the Thomson family boarded up their windows and sliding patio doors and headed for shelter in Atlanta.

“After the storm hit, I expected the worst,” Thomson says. “I expected everything to be flooded and lots of water damage, because those were the kind of reports we were hearing from every other house on the island. But the inside of the house was completely untouched.”

Sliding Patio Doors - Guy Thomson

Pella sat down with Guy Thomson to learn more about his family’s experience with Hurricane Matthew and how their house weathered the storm.

Pella: Tell us a little bit about your home. How did your family come to live on Fripp Island?

Guy: Our house was the first home to be built on Fripp Island back in the 1960s. It’s very sturdy by comparison to other houses because not only is it brick, but it also has Pella® sliding doors. We are not the original homeowners, but we came to own the home about 17 years ago when I became involved in the island’s resort business.

P: How did it feel to hear that your home was safe and sound after Hurricane Matthew went through?

GT:  I remember that one of the first responders who came to our house had told me the watermark was three feet up the basement door. With a three-foot water surge, I was sure the downstairs would be flooded. I was heartbroken just thinking about it because we had just remodeled. But later that afternoon, the first responder was able to get inside and said everything was fine. I was shocked. You can’t imagine how relieved we were to see that our home was still intact, especially with so many people who were not so fortunate. This storm came in at high tide, and the floods on the island were as high as eight feet. A lot of people lost everything underneath their first floor. The island had an entire parking lot full of all the belongings that were damaged.

sliding patio doors - Fairiage Back

P: Why do you think your home was able to stand up to the storm?

GT: I mentioned earlier that the home has a sturdy brick foundation, but the previous homeowner also installed Pella Designer Series® sliding patio doors. I think those two elements played a big role in protecting our home. I always wondered why everyone talked about Pella, and now I know why, because the product is high-quality and durable.

P: I understand that Hurricane Matthew interrupted a special family occasion? How did that turn out for you guys?

GT: My daughter’s wedding was actually originally scheduled for Oct. 22 – just two weeks after Hurricane Matthew hit. Because there was so much damage to the rest of the island, we had to move it to Nov. 12. But it still worked out wonderfully. We had it on the back patio, just as my daughter had planned, and the band was actually set up right in front of the Pella patio doors that helped keep our home damage-free. The wedding was beautiful.


Choosing the right building materials can help when weather strikes. Contact your local Pella sales representative to learn more about Pella’s hurricane-resistant products.

This article was written by

A self-proclaimed Social Media Geek and DIY aficionado, Nicolle is a member of the Pella Marketing team, focused on content creation and curation. In her free time she can be found pillaging thrift shops for furniture projects, attempting to rationalize with her 4 year old daughter, and editing her husband’s honey-do list.