In Matthew’s Wake



Sitting at the computer, listening to the wind in the trees and the rain against the windows, I say a quiet prayer of thanks. Hurricane Matthew, the media’s “monster” storm, is passing us by, leaving no visible damage in our town.

The fridge is stocked with food and water, enough to last a week. Yesterday afternoon the supermarket and hardware shelves were bare. Our neighborhood Publix was out of bread. Dollar General had no bananas or flashlights. Ace was out of lanterns…

This morning, at the end of Post Lane, potted plants are in the garage, waiting to be returned to the outdoors. Flashlights. lanterns, candles and matches, carefully assembled on the kitchen table, will be packed away again, never to be found when we need them for the next hurricane scare.

Sandra was up most of the night, worried about Willie and Harry, the two outside cats, who refused to come indoors. And no wonder. The TV was issuing dire predictions of death and destruction, and Governor Rick Scott was telling us the storm “will kill you.”

But just in the nick of time, Matthew made a slight shift to the east, and moved us out of its path. As the most dangerous storm in decades skirts the east coast, power lines are down and trees are falling.

The storm has claimed its first fatality, a 58-year-old woman in St. Lucie County, who had a heart attack.  But, so far, the predicted catastrophe has not materialized.

Of course, the worst may yet be to come. Jacksonville and the Carolina lowlands are bracing for historic floods and killer wind.

I am left pondering the randomness of disaster. For no apparent reason, Jamaica was spared but Haiti was devastated, the Bahamas was hammered but South Florida escaped this time. Now, it’s the coastal area to the north that’s in danger.

Next time? Who knows? Nobody, not even the experts at the Weather Center, can predict the future.

So, as the shelters empty and the roads are filled with evacuated families returning to their homes, we who were spared should be grateful, not irritated by another “false alarm.”

As someone observed a long time ago, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

More on Matthew

More on the fatality