As is so often the case with hurricanes, the authorities prepare for the worst, but, in the end, the storm’s bark is worse than it’s bite. Each time this situation is repeated, it makes people less likely to follow the advice of the authorities to do the preparedness. I noticed this in the days prior to Earl’s arrival yesterday, and worried if we really got creamed by the storm. Ray, as a volunteer for the Red Cross, would not allow us to slip into apathy, and we prepared as best we could — or to the extent that the authorities suggest. And — in all honesty — one of these times it WILL be the "real thing" – – as it was with Hurricane Gloria (1985), or Bob (1991)- and even Belle back in 1976, though I’m not sure that ever reached hurricane strength. All three of those were either Cat 1 or 2 hurricanes, and they do damage. Trees and branches come down, houses are damaged, there’s ocean flooding, and lengthy power outages. I remember the aftermath of them…  Of course it was nothing like Katrina – but there was clean up and it took days – and in some cases weeks to get power back.  I cannot imagine a cat 3, and that’s what the Legendary Hurricane of 1938 was, which was back before they named these storms.

The storm was lame. It rained off and on from about 10 a.m. on, as the outer bands of the storm marched north toward us. The storm, however, HAD moved east as we hoped it would, so we only got the outer bands. Plus – it lost some of it’s punch and was downgraded to a Cat 1. The wind was minimal here — less than a garden variety nor’easter – and I think only Montauk (35 miles east of us) got anything significant in that department. Before we were sure how the storm would go, Ray and I decided to go out for lunch in town so that we had a nice meal in our belly before we might have to eat the simple things I’d purchased to be cooked if we had a power failure. I think everyone else had the same idea, and the restaurants were jammed.

Since Katrina, and the year that so many storms hit Florida, I think many communities which are in line for these storms are revamping their hurricane preparedness, and Suffolk County is no exception.  The county, along with the various organizations which supply help to storm victims now work together toward a common end, and the EOC was created. 

This storm HAD the potential to hit us head on, and as it made it’s way up the coast, it was a Cat 3 storm, and was worrisome.  The EOC planned for this, and went through all the steps to protect citizens, which in retrospect seemed like overkill.  To some people, all that was done is now seen as a joke and a waste of precious tax payer’s money.  Even before Earl came through I noted many residents (and tourists) not bothering to heed the warnings to take the precautions suggested.  Why bother because it “never materializes anyway”.  In this instance, they were not wrong.  It’s like the little story, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” – and at some point after repeated false alarms, one doesn’t believe the cries. 

However, one of these days some hurricane WILL hit.  Even in this case, a few degrees “wobble” on the part of Hurricane Earl, and it would have been a “slam dunk” – and we would have been hit head on.  Conditions could have been such that the hurricane would have retained it’s strength, as it is true, they often lose strength as they hit the cooler waters off the northeast coast.  Forecasting has come a long way from when residents were clueless that a hurricane was even out there – like before the 1938 Hurricane.  We can – to a certain extent – predict these wobbles in hurricanes – and know when they will lose strength.  But – – not totally.  It is better to err on the side of caution and do those preparations rather than cavalierly ignore them and take the risk of not being prepared if it ends up being aimed right at you at the last minute.   

By the afternoon I was pretty confident that it wasn’t going to veer toward us, and we were going to dodge this hurricane bullet.  As a closet “storm chaser” (no – I’m sure I’d never do this in real life, but, I admit, storms do excite me when I know I’m in no danger), I decided to drive up to the ocean beach to see the waves.  There was rain, but little wind, but hoped I would have some time to go out and photograph the waves influenced by Earl which was out at sea….

IMG_1257   IMG_1248  

IMG_1212   IMG_1211  

IMG_1280

I was lucky as the rain slowed down and then stopped as we were probably between rain bands at the time which allowed me to use my camera more freely.  When not using my camera I protected it under my raincoat from any droplets or spray.  Thank God for the zoom feature, which allowed me to appear to be up close to some of those waves. I loved the spray on some of them. And – in the 4th shot – it shows the stupidity of some of the people there — as they played in the surf, maybe not realizing it’s true intensity.  Even I felt this, as occasionally when I was standing on the sand behind the surf line, one of the waves would be extra strong and come up right to the dunes – and beyond.  I was then caught in ankle high water as it rushed in.  The strength of this small amount of water reminded me that if it was too much deeper, it could knock me down WITH my camera in hand.  I realized the respect we need for a hurricane ocean. 

The last photo is of New York WABC News Channel 7 reporting on the little hurricane that “wasn’t”, though the ocean did have a dramatic look to it.  I saw the report on the 5 p.m. news.

Today is a marvelous day as they often are once a hurricane or tropical storm has passed.  Our windows are open and a gentle, refreshing breeze is feels good – so unlike the muggy, stifling weather of yesterday.  It’s a gift that the hurricane gives you after it’s destruction, though in our case we were blessed to have avoided that.

Advertisements