A Word on Matthew

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Something out of a cheesy Hollywood film. Or maybe north Florida? At least Floridians have a sense of humor! Photo: @thesurfmarshall

The anticipation of a major hurricane is like nothing else in the world.

Unlike other natural disasters that spring up out of nowhere and cause widespread devastation — earthquakes and tornadoes, for example — we can watch and monitor hurricanes for days in advance. And that’s a good thing, as it gives everyone a chance to prepare and evacuate.

But at the same time, especially in the modern day of social media, multiple days of anticipation also lead to fear mongering and misinformation. Take FOX News anchor Shep Smith who 24 hours ago told a live audience that “If this storm moves 20 miles to the west you can’t survive it. It’s not possible. You and everyone you know is dead. And your kids die too.”

Morbid much?

The range of emotion coming from everyone I know in FL on Facebook has been all over the spectrum the last two days. While some were making fun of Matthew and posting memes mocking Matthew McConaghy, many others were dead-set that upon evacuation they would never seen their homes in tact again.

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Florida, realtime.

The reality lies somewhere in the middle. Because even though we can watch and forecast with as much accuracy as humanely possible, these storms are still unpredictable. And the difference between a direct hit, with the NE eyewall making landfall with 110 mph plus sustained winds, and a grazing from the west end of the eyewall, which is currently happening to my hometown of Saint Augustine, Florida, is immense.

Landfall would have been catastrophic, but what’s actually happening is still very, very bad. While Shep Smith took it a tad far on the news yesterday, he’s absolutely right that 20 miles makes — and in our case made — all the difference. Haiti and the Bahamas weren’t so lucky.

It appears that my hometown, America’s Oldest City, is taking the brunt of the storm in FL. Matthew is still a major hurricane with sustained 120 mph winds, and he’s currently spinning just SE of Saint Augustine, causing widespread damage and major flooding. I just received photos from a friend of my neighborhood and it’s halfway underwater, with high tide still an hour away. It’s gonna get worse.

In my 32 years this is the worst Hurricane our area has ever experienced. And even if some of the fear mongering was unnecessary, at least Florida was well informed, and most people boarded up their homes and fled. Almost certainly saving lives.

All my best to everyone being affected by this storm, especially down in Haiti, where it’ll be days before we really understand how much death and destruction Matthew inflicted. – Zander Morton

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Matthew, the purple traitor. Also the perpetrator. Photo: Windyty