Hurricane Matthew Wreaks Havoc

Causing billions of dollars in damage, countless lives, and an intense strain on several countries, Hurricane Matthew tore through the Southeastern US and the Caribbean throughout late September and left behind a legacy of brutal destruction.

Hurricane Matthew formed near the Windward Islands on Sept. 28, 2016, and soon became an extremely deadly, long lived, tropical cyclone- the first category 5 hurricane since Hurricane Felix in 2007.

There are 5 categories of a hurricane: 1 being a small hurricane and 5 being a big and destructive hurricane. The hurricane formed from a tropical wave that pushed off the African coast in late September. The tropical storm evolved into a hurricane when it reached the Eastern Caribbean and rapidly intensified, leaving more than 1.4 million people in serious need of assistance in the Caribbean. Hurricane Matthew then made a landfall in Haiti and Eastern Cuba on October 4th as a category 4. From there, the hurricane hammered the Bahamas October 5-6 as a category 3 and 4 hurricane. The death toll in Haiti was at least 300 people.

From the Caribbean, Matthew moved towards the Southeastern United States and caused massive damage as it moved very close to the coast of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. It made one official U.S. landfall (a collapse of a mass of land) on October 8th, southeast of McClellanville, South Carolina as a category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds. On this day, the St. John’s River in northeast Florida reached its highest level on record at Shands Bridge, while also flowing backwards. It moved away from North Carolina on October 9th. At this point it was no longer a hurricane; just a post-tropical cyclone. Effects are still being felt in eastern North Carolina. The hurricane killed 45 people in the U.S. The name “Matthew” for a storm will now be retired as the storm was a major sort that caused deaths.

Jill Bradley, a family member of an SLVHS student, lives in the Bahamas, and was affected by Hurricane Matthew. She gave great insight into the storm and what it was like. When asked how she prepared for the storm she said, “Firstly, hurricane prep starts in January. Every week when you go grocery shopping you buy a can of tuna, or soup or any other food that doesn’t take much prep to eat and will last. It is important to have enough bottled water for a minimum of three days per person.” She said she also went around the yard and picked anything the wind would be able to carry. “Then get settled in. Never stay alone, because it’s too scary. If you are in a flood zone, go to a shelter or to someone’s house that is not in a dangerous position.”

She said that storms are mainly scary and boring, and interminably long. Bradley said, “Matthew’s winds started hitting us around four and [then] the water went off because the power company turns off the power.” They filled the bathtubs with water so that they would have water for flushing toilets.

Then she said she tried to get busy doing anything but thinking about and listening to the storm. She would read and play board games and listen to the radio. They would do anything that kept their mind off of the scary thoughts about the storm. Like Midwestern Americans do in the case of a tornado, they went into the room in the middle of their house to stay safe.

The next day, they went out and started clearing their yard. In their backyard, there was nothing left but shells of big trees. Many homes were destroyed and many lost everything. Luckily, Jill and her husband did not have major damage done to their home. They had no power, water, internet, or cable, so they cranked up their generator and plugged the computer into the generator. Their house became very popular once people found out about their generator and it’s internet connection. It took four days for their water to be restored and in the meantime they went to their neighbor Lawna’s house and bathed in her freezing cold pool. Jill said that it is a lot like camping.

Jill would recommend that if there are hurricane warnings, do not panic. “Do what they tell you and prepare. Make sure you are in a safe place and have all your important papers secure and in a waterproof container. Also have an escape route planned in case.” No one in the Bahamas died, except someone in Andros who had a heart attack when the water took his house. Jill says they are very very lucky.

By Camryn Hipwell

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