Jamaica seems to have been spared the worst of Hurricane Matthew. With the exception of a pretty serious downpour on Sunday that caused localized flooding, and maritime weather and storm surges that are battering the coast, we have had no significant storm impacts here in Kingston, just cooler weather (28C), clouds, and light drizzle. This morning there is cloud cover and a gentle breeze, the windiest I have seen it all week. It hasn’t rained in hours.
As per Cuso requirements (and good sense), I have been sheltering in place since Saturday afternoon, with lots of no-cook food, water, and cash on hand, as well as things to do in case of power outage. It is dull and I am eager to get out of the apartment, but I’m grateful for the privileges I enjoy that allow me to be far more concerned about others than about myself.
As I type, Matthew is making landfall in Haiti as a category 4 hurricane. There is no doubt people there are far less prepared than Jamaica has been. On Sunday morning, there were reports of Haitians having no idea a storm was coming. It is terrifying to imagine how the country will cope. This will be the most severe hurricane the country has experienced since 1964.
Wikipedia explains that, “during a category 4 hurricane, heavy, irreparable damage and near complete destruction of gas station canopies and other wide span overhang type structures are common. Mobile and manufactured homes are often flattened. Most trees, except for the heartiest, are uprooted or snapped, isolating many areas. These storms cause extensive beach erosion, while terrain may be flooded far inland. Total and long-lived electrical and water losses are to be expected, possibly for many weeks.”
Cuba is also expecting to be hit, but, like Jamaica would have been, they are better prepared than the Haitians. Yesterday, the Cuban government evacuated nearly half a million people from the area of anticipated impact, an incredible example of mobilization in the face of impending disaster.
In the coming days, I anticipate there will be a lot of talk about the extreme nature of the warnings and preparations Jamaica went through over the last few days and whether it was necessary or not. But in the meantime, I will enjoy the cool weather and thank everyone and everything that came together to ensure Jamaica would have been well prepared to weather this horrific storm.
Please keep Haiti and Cuba in your thoughts.