I’ve noticed that a lot of people liked my first “Oh, We’re Fine” post that I wrote back on September 3rd. I just hope all of you realize that I was talking about another Hurricane that hit last month: Hurricane Hermine.
Yesterday, it was another hurricane’s turn, this one named Matthew. The eye of Matthew was much farther away, missing me by some 200 miles. The storm was a much bigger deal for the east coast of Florida as it was here on the west coast of the state, as Category 4 winds were being projected along the coastline north of West Palm Beach all the way up to Jacksonville.
I’ve been watching these storms come and go since Hurricane David in 1979 when I was almost eight years of age. But on Thursday afternoon, I saw someone I had never seen before. Newsmen like Shepard Smith at Fox News and weathermen like Brian Norcross on The Weather Channel spending airtime making urgent appeals for those in evacuation zones to do just that: evacuate. Then yesterday, National Hurricane Center director Rick Knabb made another such appeal.
Usually, the reporters and weather people give you the information and the public officials make the appeals to the public to flee as needed, and each side usually stays on their side of that hypothetical road. However, there were scattered reports that the people weren’t taking matters seriously, especially in northeast Florida where (as is the case here in Tampa Bay) major hurricanes don’t usually visit.
Even though the storm wasn’t scheduled to hit here, people took the storm seriously in my area. Schools were closed in the event the track did the unthinkable and moved much closer to Tampa Bay. A trip to Walmart I took late Thursday morning was unusually packed for such an hour and day, with a huge bottleneck in the northwest part of the store where water was available for purchase. Unlike a viral video that has made the rounds, the gathering of water bottles at my store was orderly.
I spent the day peering at nearby trees. They shook a bit in winds the gusted to minimal tropical storm force, but as the day progressed, the winds died down.
Life went back to normal here. They will clean up the East coast, might take some time. But things will go on. I do wonder if someday lawmakers will throw fines or imprisonment at those who don’t evacuate, but I give it a few years before that sort of thing becomes law even if lawmakers are so inclined. We don’t think about emergencies until there is one.