Jimmy Buffett was right. It’s hard to reason with hurricane season.
Amid all the angst and frustration Hurricane Dorian created, we got lucky when the massive storm decided to make a hard-right well short of a direct hit and skirt up the coast.
But that doesn’t mean we should drop our guard.
The county’s emergency management worked well ahead of the storm. It ordered mandatory evacuations on Tuesday for low-lying areas that are prone to flooding. Government offices and schools were closed. Everyone was urged to stock up on water, gasoline and non-perishable food. We were prepared.
So was Waffle House. As incredible as it sounds, federal officials monitor the diner during disasters. The company has its own emergency management team that is dedicated to keeping stores open during disaster or getting them reopened after the storm. Much like The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore making an appearance, if the “Waffle House Index” forces a store to close ahead of a storm, FEMA takes notice. Scattered and covered is good. Scattered and splattered isn’t.
If Waffle House took Dorian seriously, it proves our county leaders were correct in being proactive, too.
“Right now we’ve activated our storm center so we are mainly tracking the storm and positioning some resources, but still it’s kind of early because I don’t think anyone has a good grasp on where the storm is going to go,” Pat Warner, director of public relations and external affairs at Waffle House, told Fox Business last weekend.
As it turned out, Dorian was a monster for the Bahamas, but not for us. The storm that once had sustained winds of 185 mph spared us the destruction created by Hurricane Irma two years ago. Dorian was a capricious tease, first threatening us with a catastrophic direct hit, then with unimaginable flooding before thumbing her nose at us as she danced by 100 miles off the coast.
The experts didn’t over-react. They responded. No matter how many spaghetti models are used, a hurricane has a mind of its own. And you can’t reason with them.
The real fear now for emergency management now is for residents to take the next threat – there are four other possible storms brewing in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, including Tropical Storm Fernand – too lightly. Memories of Matthew and Irma should serve as a reminder that Mother Nature is an emotional temptress. It would be a mistake to base our future preparations by Dorian.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said it best: “We can’t make everybody happy, but we believe we can keep everyone alive.”
We eventually will drink the bottled water we stockpiled, and we will burn the gasoline and propane. We will use the extra plywood, and we certainly won’t let the extra snacks go to waste.
Being inconvenienced was far better than being hurt or killed.
We should be reassured by the advance work by the county’s emergency management team and everyone who worked tirelessly – literally – to keep us safe. And we should remain vigilant to the warnings when the next storm threatens.
Especially if Waffle House closes.