For the Ft Lauderdale/West Palm Beach area, where our office is located, the much anticipated Hurricane Matthew came and went. The effect in my neighborhood was that of a light spring shower. I jested with my family that I was “disappointed” and that I didn’t “enjoy” my hurricane.
I know this was insensitive, and you might be thinking “How can you be so unconcerned?”
But I WAS unconcerned, and now I realize why.
And I am thankful.
Because our political system here works, construction codes take into account hurricane patterns. I knew that even if we were hit directly, in all likelihood, the place I live and my office would still be there the next day.
I knew that because our economy works, Florida Power and Light would have any power outage restored within a couple of days, and the most I would suffer would be boredom without TV, and a day or so without air conditioning.
I watched our local emergency services take over the media and give directions like we were military expedition. We had the shelter capacity for tens of thousands of people, we had free transportation to anyone who needed it, we had special shelters for people with pets (and the appropriate warning that they might smell a bit…).
The directions were explicit, evacuation areas were established, and people raided the grocery stores and gas stations to be prepared, with three days advanced notice. Most offices let their people out at noon the previous day, schools were closed. We were able to get ready, frankly without a lot of disruptions to our lives.
I watched Governor Scott take charge in the eyes of the Floridian people and simultaneously (and wisely) get the hell out of the way of the emergency management people whom he rightfully described as the best in the world. He said the emergency management people had his cell phone and would get anything they needed, he had the Florida National Guard on standby, and every resource was ready to mobilize, just in case.
The reponse to Matthew was professionally planned and professionally executed. While we were concerned and motivated to prepare, we were not afraid, because we had up to date information and we all had options to either leave and travel to a guaranteed safe area (and we all new exactly how far to go to get there) or go to a protective shelter. We knew these people were on the job would tell us how to be safe, should anything change.
Since the hurricane caused no substantial damage, the people who implemented this emergency response will probably not get credit for being the heroes they are.
But damn, they were good.
Fortune allowed that Hurricane Matthew spared us from a direct hit. But preparation and competence allowed us to disregard fortune and have the luxury of being confident, and in my case, “unconcerned” about the consequences of such a huge force of nature entering our lives.
So I give Florida’s emergency management response, including the Governor, FPL, the local police, fire, water, rescue and admin services a rating of “Awesome, Thank Goodness” (my top rating, by the way!) and congratulate them on their efforts over the past several days.