Be glad for outcome

Published 10:01 pm Monday, September 17, 2018

Hurricane Florence hadn’t even dealt her worst to our neighbors to the south before the complaining began here in Virginia about the storm that wasn’t.

Hurricane Florence seemed to have its sights set on Virginia. At one time, it was a Category 4 hurricane, and many of the best meteorologists on the Eastern Seaboard — including at the National Hurricane Center in Miami — had its track pointed right at us.

Folks bought food, generators and water, filled their gas tanks and stacked sandbags. Some even heeded an evacuation order that affected tens of thousands in the Hampton Roads area.

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But as the storm got closer to the United States, its track changed, and it wound up making landfall about 200 miles south of here, instead.

Meteorology is not an exact science, and those who practice it make the best estimates they can of where the storm will hit with the information they have available at the time.

Government officials rely on that information to make decisions that protect lives and property and mobilize personnel and equipment for the best possible response. Once again, they are using information that comes to them several days before the storm in order to make these decisions. Large-scale evacuations and the positioning of large numbers of personnel and pieces of equipment do not happen in a matter of hours.

When it comes to hurricane preparation in Virginia, it seems authorities will always be accused either of doing too much, too soon or of doing too little, too late. If those are their options, one can see why they err on the side of caution and make the choice more likely to save lives.

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20, and in the face of the slight bit of wind and rain Suffolk saw last week, all of the preparations do seem a bit ridiculous. But those who are charged with protecting millions of people likely don’t see it that way, no matter the outcome.

Folks may groan about missing school and work, seeing lower paychecks and lower business revenue, and spending money on evacuating and on supplies they should have already had anyway.

But had the storm come this way similarly to how it eventually zeroed in on North Carolina, they would have been glad they made all those preparations rather than be caught unaware.