Hurricane Matthew: Waiting for Landfall
After Jess and Sophie left for the states on Sunday, it was time to prepare for Hurricane Matthew. Beginning Sunday, I tried to convince our employees that a huge category 4 hurricane was about to hit Haiti and that it was very important that they find shelter and a place to stay. I told each person that they could stay at my house and bring their family because we were on higher ground and had very sturdy home that would make it through the storm. Everyone said thank you, but I could tell that none of them believed me about the storm. So, of course, I talked with each of them one-on-one and tried to convince them of how dangerous this storm was. I made sure that everyone who worked for us knew that this was bigger and stronger than any other hurricane they had seen in Haiti.
As you read that last sentence, you may be wondering why I had to convince people that the storm was dangerous. You are wondering that because of how quickly we find out about potential hurricanes and because of how quickly people in America prepare for storms. It is not like that here. In fact, the government did not announce the hurricane until Saturday and only briefly then. On Saturday afternoon, when I was trying to get a tire repaired, fix our white truck, and figure out why our dryer was not working I was also talking to all of our employees about Hurricane Matthew. Many of them did not even know it existed. When I tried to explain the magnitude of the storm, nobody believed what I was saying. Everyone kept telling me that they had been through storms before and they would be fine. A few of them told me that they could not leave their home unattended during a hurricane or all of their things would be stolen. I was beginning to get more and more worried, not as much for myself or our kids, but for the country in general. There just seemed to be a large scale lack of preparedness for what was shaping up to be a potential catastrophe.
On Monday morning, the rain came. It did not come hard, but it came consistently all morning starting by the time I woke up. School was cancelled in advance of the storm and our kids were getting their things ready to come. I met with our cook and made sure we would be ready for the hurricane. I got enough spaghetti for 6 meals, enough corn flakes and milk for 3, I bought 80 pates, and I had enough bread and peanut butter for a couple of meals. It was clear that everyone thought this was overkill. I met with the rest of the house moms and tried to convince them of the seriousness of the storm and let them know they could come to our house and spend the night. I made the kids pack their stuff up and told them that I would be coming back at noon even though the storm was not supposed to hit until very early Tuesday morning. At about 1:00pm the rain stopped and it did not start back up again until around 9 or 10 that night. I found out that when the rain stopped, many people thought that the hurricane had passed. This definitely frightened me even more for the safety of our friends here. I called as many people as I could to make sure they knew the storm was still a few hours away and you would be surprised at how many people really thought the storm was over.
I have to admit, once all of the kids and employees and their families got to our house, I was pretty nervous. At that point I was kind of responsible for each of their lives and it seemed like a pretty heavy burden, especially without Jess with me. I started worrying about every possible thing that could go wrong and you would be surprised what types of things ran through my mind. I am, in general, more of a realist and I knew that none of the scenarios playing out in my head would really happen, but it was a little frightening nonetheless. In fact, that night, I hardly slept. I didn’t have internet so I was calling Jess constantly, but when it was time to go to sleep I just had this uneasiness about me. I really knew that we would be safe, but I was just ready for everything to be over and for all of us to be fine. Not to mention the fact that the later track for the hurricane had changed and looks like it might be headed straight for Jacksonville (on a side note, even though I wrote this on Tuesday, it is very clear now that Matthew will be hitting Jacksonville where Jess and Sophie are tonight)! Anyway, I went to sleep that night with no rain and no wind, and I was really curious about what would happen the next day.