If you do not know about Hurricane Matthew and what it is doing, then stop reading this blog post right now and check out this link on the weather channel:
This is one of the most devastating storms our nation has ever faced. Hurricane Matthew is a Category 4 of 5 hurricane. This ratings are done by the wind speeds observed in the storm and these are currently at 130 miles per hour, enough to tear the roof off a house. It is not terribly uncommon for a hurricane to achieve this category. What makes the potential for damage so great in this case is the path that this hurricane is likely to take. It will travel straight up the populated Florida coast, passing over Cape Canaveral and onto the southern part of the Eastern Seaboard. These are low lying populated areas.
We are told the main hazards are wind, as wind, but also as a fringe of tornados at the edge of the hurricane. Other hazards are the sheer volume of rain and flooding, powerful waves at the coast battering the shoreline, but even more so the so called storm surge, which is like a monstrous high tide coming far higher and more inland than it should, amidst everything else, complicating the task of dealing with buildings compromised by wind and falling debris.
Power will be lost, and food likely spoiled. Tap water may not necessarily be safe. Food will be a challenge. In the aftermath, people may eat the spoiled food and get sick. Water born illness may spread, as may common maladies like pneumonia, since people will either be without shelter, or in crowded shelter where illness is easily acquired.
The Red Cross is the preeminent organization for disaster relief in this country. For this reason I have devoted food Friday to a link to direct you to their donation page. I was going to talk about Kombucha, a delicious probiotic drink, but I cannot get my mind off the hurricane and its victims.
When I was a little girl, ages 6-12, I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida. I lived through hurricanes Agnes and Camille. Camille was class 5, though it merely sidelined us. I have many vivid memories of being in a hurricane. Oddly, all of them are pleasant.
For kids, a hurricane was all excitement. There was no school. It was 1967, and everyone gathered around the TV to watch Meteorologist Roy Leep track the storm. He was kindly but authoritative, with the air of a scientist. Where the colorful and dynamic realtime satellite images are now, there was a large very much analog wall map full of symbols, isobars and moveable pieces. Almost all children had a hurricane preparedness booklet. I even had a felt map of Florida, and had cut out the official symbols for tropical depressions and hurricanes so I could move them along the map. I was familiar with the tracking terminology. I tried to predict time and place of landfall.
Once during a hurricane my mother made me sit on the couch in the middle of the house with her and would not permit me to get near the windows as I wished. In that same incident, large lightning strikes caused sparks to come out of the wall outlets. Eventually the power went out and we lit candles, which I though was wonderful. We got to eat snack foods, which were normally not allowed.
Once, when I lived on a small residential island on a bayou, we had a tremendous hurricane related storm surge. I slept through it, and the next morning it was bright sunshine. I, together with all the other children in the neighborhood took to the streets... in boats. There were also pool toys like floating seats. Everyone got out and had a grand day, and were all the happier when we learned that the one bridge had washed out. We all swam like fishes in the first place, living there. We all had pools, and seawalls, and boats. But now, our boats banged awkwardly against their pylons whose lines had been slacked, and our pools had all become contiguous with the ocean waters which had come over the seawall and across the lawn.
Somehow I think the adults did not have the same experience. As I got older, more toward two digits, I didn't either. I learned in retrospect, that during Camille, two states away, many had lost life. Our Florida houses were made of concrete and screened porches, but in the old south, they were made of wood. Homes and lives had been lost, and would be again and again.
I got to where I could readily discern that strange green light in the sky which precedes the hurricane and occupies the eye. I could literally feel the lightness of the fall in barometric pressure. Once here in Montana my daughter and I were taking our groceries to the car during a bad windstorm. Though it had been over 40 years, I remembered that green light in the sky, so beautiful. I told her if I didn't know better, I could feel the lift of the whole atmosphere. I told her about the funnel clouds I'd seen over the Gulf of Mexico, and how they started as a dark grey V shaped little buds off a big cloud. We looked around and thought maybe we saw one. As we got home, ten minutes away, we passed by what had been a stand of massive old cottonwood trees. Now there was just a giant pile of sawdust and twisted roots. The three homes in proximity including ours were untouched, though people in the neighborhood said the wind had been a deafening roar. We later learned that two small tornadoes had been believed to touch down. I was heartbroken for the magnificent trees, but then ashamed of my sentiment compared to what victims of violent storms must feel.
By morning, the Red Cross will be badly stretched for resources of all kinds. We all need to do what we can to help. Here is their link.