My first thoughts when I awakened this morning were associated with an unwanted guest. Hurricane Matthew’s arrival has been anticipated for the past several days. Unfortunately, he’s not the kind of guest that leaves things the way he found it. The carnage followed by flooding can be deadly. Even when the causality count is minimal or non-existent, the wind damage and damage associated to flooding can leave families displaced for weeks or months. I guess in reality, for some folks Hurricane Matthew could result in a permanent change of address.
That certainly was true of folks displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Texas received many of those who were on the run for their lives. The record shows that eleven years ago, the storm displaced more than a million people in the Gulf Coast region. Many people returned home within days, but up to 600,000 households were still displaced a month later. Reportedly, 200,000 people that were dislocated by the fury of Hurricane Katrina continue to reside in Texas.
I was mesmerized by news coverage last night associated to the pending threat of Hurricane Matthew. Across the years, I’ve known a number of people named Matthew and all seemed level headed, personable and non-threatening. This Matthew is different. He is in a category all his own. I think Category IV is the label he was given on last night’s news.
We have a lot of extended family residing in Florida. In addition, I have a friend who is currently on a badly needed vacation. You guessed it. She opted for a Florida excursion. In addition, I have another couple of friends who moved into their Florida retirement home a couple of weeks ago. The same is true for the General’s sister and brother-in-law.
As I watched last night’s news coverage, I had the thought: “Why would anyone choose not to evacuate?” When the headlines flashing on the television screen indicate that Matthew’s arrival would bring a threat unlike any seen in the past century, surely that would serve as a wake-up call that it was time to turn off the lights and head elsewhere.
Actually, by the time that level of alert was being broadcast, it was already too late to leave town. At least it would be a slow trek out of town. Isn’t that always the case? By the time you determine to heed the warning, you find yourself surrounded by everyone else that was opting to take “a wait and see” approach.
At any rate, I drifted off to sleep last night with thoughts and prayers for those who would host Matthew’s unwanted arrival. Seriously, every channel I clicked on the television last night was predominated by news coverage associated with the storm. It was non-stop coverage. That even heightened by anxiety and concern associated to what daybreak would bring.
I awakened at 5:00 a.m. this morning and instead of turning over and going back to sleep, I opted to turn on the television expecting to see more of the same. My first thought was that last night’s news associated with Matthew must have been a dream. Instead of coverage associated to hurricane force winds in Florida, this morning’s televised news carried tidbits of information associated with everything. There was even mention that visibility in Brenham was almost none due to the fog. For that matter, it was also foggy in Houston.
I changed to a different channel and found regular programming in place. I then selected another and found some mention of Matthew. Apparently Matthew opted for Jacksonville, Florida as his initial location of choice. Thankfully, he didn’t arrive with the fanfare he previously had been given. He had been downgraded to a Category III Hurricane. No doubt, that had to be a slap-in-the-face to his self-image.
I turned off the television and went back to bed with thoughts of the storm still in my head. News of Matthew’s arrival reminded me of opting to stay in Houston on a work assignment when Hurricane Alicia chose to grace Galveston and Houston with her arrival. She, too, was an unwelcomed guest.
In 1983, I was young and dumb. It didn’t take me long to get my fill of Alicia. A hurricane party works best when the electricity stays on and everything seems normal. However, things changed when Alicia crashed the party. Consequently, I foolishly chose to drive out of town when the eye of the storm was over Houston. However, as I recall, there was absolutely no traffic congestion. I had the roadway all to myself.
Instead of driving directly home, I opted to go back to Austin through San Antonio. After all, surviving a hurricane was a good excuse to buy a new car. I had previously purchased a car at the Buick dealership in San Antonio. Why not get another?
Hopefully folks in Florida will fare as well. No doubt, everyone will breathe a sigh of relief when Matthew leaves town.
All My Best!