The past month has felt like one incredibly long period of time—
and one not soon forgotten for most of us living in the Caribbean/southeastern United States. We will be living with the aftermath of a hurricane. A monster storm that for some obscure reason, our society likes to give name s to;
This one was called “Matthew”.
We would spend hours each day tuned to radio, phone, and television updates. I used to joke that when you spend time in a place like Florida, every television you come in contact with-in your home, your hotel, lobbies, businesses and restaurants—will be tuned to the Weather Channel. It just comes with the territory and becomes a part of the landscape.
But as you tune into the situation, you try and get an idea of exactly how much this weather is going to affect you and your loved ones. You try to evaluate what to do, who to call, where to go and what to take. You follow the path of the storm and watch as the “cone” moves over your home. You tune in again and again to see if it’s moved. You try a different station to see if you get better news.
You pray. You cry. You pray. You swear.
You second guess your decisions. You pray some more. And then you prepare as best you can.
Those of us who have been through them before know the drill—you gas up your car, visit the ATM, stock up on water and non-perishables (and make sure you have a manual can opener!), charge items up, you locate your flashlights and check them, and deal with a myriad of details on top of trying to sort out the rest of your life as though nothing is happening.
When you speak to folks in other places in either the US or abroad, even given as “connected” as people seem to be, many know nothing about the impending storm-or how it impacts you.
I think that’s where hurricanes, given the technology we now have, differ than many other natural disasters. You do have time to prepare and make decisions.
And then you start to think about things on another level:
People who have no options who are already displaced due to other natural disasters or matters beyond their control. People who make poor choices and choose to stay when really they should not. Or those that do not get to make a choice—small children, pets and livestock, even animal residents in zoos and aquatic parks–those who rely on someone else to be making the right choices for their care and survival.
As I write this, looking back on the days just prior, during and right after the storm that seem to stretch on forever, I am very thankful. For those that have asked, yes, we have suffered loss due to the storm. But not the kind that can’t be fixed. That’s what’s important.
I also want to write a quick shout out of THANKS
–to the many people who work in the hardware stores, who have their own families and lives to look out for, that were there in the wee hours of the morning with a smile and plywood/supplies to sell, or gas station owners who kept the pumps going and didn’t double their prices, to the first responders who ALWAYS put others before themselves and lastly to the weathermen and women on all the networks and the Weather Channel who are behind those desks and in front of those maps—hour after hour, day after day as the storm tore through country after country. They would repeat over and over important information, forecasts and were the calm in the storm.
The aftermath will be felt for a long time
Although the storm is gone, it’s presence will be felt for a long long time by many people in many places. So too will the lingering effects of debris be felt by those that either visit or live in the sea. Please be extra vigilant, pick up any debris and residual garbage from the water and beaches, both for your own safety and for those creatures who cannot look out for themselves.