Most of the United States has four seasons, while south Florida has three. A dry pleasant winter and spring, a hot humid summer and a windy season when most are experiencing the turn between summer and fall. Currently, we are at the height of hurricane season. The recent threat of hurricane Matthew awakened many Floridians to our susceptibility of location, the sub-tropics. We keep our eye on the weather channel daily and plan accordingly. A disturbance off of Africa or in the Caribbean may soon become a category 1 to 5 in our neighborhood.
When Matthew formed we were in the Bahamas, keeping our eye on the storm and dismissing any real threat until it arrived at our door. We boarded up and left the small Bahamian island known as Bimini, and flew 50 miles west to Fort Lauderdale. Within a few days the tropical disturbance turned into a category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour. Bimini and South Florida were in the cone of death, or more politely the cone of concern according to the local news channel.
As it tore though Haiti and the outer Bahamas we realized within 24 hours we were still in its direct path.
“Are we boarding up? Tomorrow should we bring out the shutters?” I asked as we analyzed the path of Matthew.
“Yes.” My husband answered, “It doesn’t look good.”
A full day of preparations inside and outside as we gathered our crew for a safe haven during the hurricane. It continued its path right towards Fort Lauderdale for a direct hit from the eye of the storm. I started to doubt if we should stay for a cat 4, and they were forecasting it might increase to a category 5 by landfall. I imagined our roof might blow off and our lives in danger in such high winds. I was anxious. I envisioned my small dog getting sucked out of a window and I made a mental note of where my snorkel, helmet and dive gear were located, just in case.
We watched constantly on the weather channel. Then the hurricane jogged north as the cone of death followed its projected path. Two hours out from a direct hit and it turned. Relief and cabin fever followed. We were lucky enough to have electric and movies available. Our young helpers, twenty-somethings, entertained themselves by camping in an empty bedroom, playing board games by candle-light even though we never lost power.
The morning after seemed like a hurricane hangover. No visible daylight through the hurricane shutters, no idea of time, exhaustion from the preparations, but we were spared from devastation. I’ll take that any day. We again watched the weather channel. The Space Coast and Jacksonville were now in the death cone. Still a category 4, it was just cruising north, 30 miles off the coast of Florida.
Matthew came closest to Cape Canaveral, Jacksonville and eventually hit land just south of Charleston. Many people were effected by this strong hurricane in Haiti, Cuba, Florida and the Bahamas. Freeport, Nassau and Andros were the worst hit islands with no word yet from Andros. I only hope for the best for our neighbors to the north and east. I respect weather and I’ll never mess with mother nature, she is the ultimate one in charge.