Positives and negatives from the Florence experience

Published 10:24 pm Tuesday, September 18, 2018

By Biff and Susan Andrews

Tidewater dodged a bullet, a potentially fatal one, last week, but for every plus there is a minus. Here are a few:

On the plus side, Florence dropped from a Category 4 to a 1, but next time a 4 approaches we’d better expect a 4, not another 1.

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People in Zone A listened and evacuated. But next time they may not. They spent money and traveled, needlessly. Maybe they should have waited. It’s a tough call.

Schoolkids got a five- or six-day holiday, with good weather. On the other hand, they’ve used up precious future snow days — another tough call.

Hurricane preparations made everyone check their emergency supplies, flashlights and so on. But many of those supplies will never get used.

People have plenty of water for their eight glasses a day, but drinking nothing but water until the New Year is going to get boring. We saw an abundance of wine in the long lines of shopping carts at the check-out.

People actually learned their evacuation zones. But people in B, C, and D will never leave or buy flood insurance.

Our nation was shown what true compassion looks like in that poignant moment as first responders knelt in prayer in the midst of the tragic loss of a mother and her infant baby in Wilmington. Why is this not more common?

It was time for all loose lawn chairs, umbrellas, coolers and so forth to be stored anyway. Of course, preparing for a non-event makes one feel like an alarmist idiot.

People like me drove to Hatteras and back to double-check preparations there. I believe maximum winds there were 60 miles per hour.

People on the Outer Banks had no major wind damage. The water, however, was another story.

The press kept us informed 24/7. But most of those folks out there in the rain don’t know the difference between onshore and offshore winds and their effects.

The Cajun Navy showed up to help North Carolina first responders. But the U.S. Coast Guard and FEMA should be doing it, not private citizens.

The European forecast model correctly predicted the storm’s turn to the South. But then they predicted it to skirt the coastline all the way to Savannah. Oops!

The American (GFS) model correctly predicted it would stall out, but it predicted it would stay north — near Cape Hatteras.

Gas stations didn’t run out of gas. But they did hike prices 10 cents a gallon within three days.

Americans will rally to support those in need. Give what you can to organizations that can help like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Operation Blessing or even the Cajun Navy. Someday it may be you in need.

In summary, we have been spared, blessed and forewarned by Florence. It would be a tragic effect if it caused people to let down their guard and not heed the warnings next time.

Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at b.andrews22@live.com.