Hurricane Matthew Storms Through Tidewater

Hurricane Matthew was forecasted to bring some wind and beach erosion to the area; but it was not supposed to be a serious threat to the tidewater region. This was the declaration that was being touted by the local media stations and even The Weather Channel, but then the winds changed course, the storm slowed, and Hurricane Matthew came closer to our shore causing more impact than previously expected and unfortunately, some local residents are still feeling its effect.

Like many hurricanes, Matthew started from a tropical wave off the coast of Africa in late September. According to The Weather Channel, originally the tropical wave was labeled invest 97L on September 25th when the storm was near the Cape Verde Islands. The system took a few days to organize then tropical storm Matthew was born. As it traveled, the warm southern waters of the Atlantic Ocean helped the storm to grow, eventually Matthew became a category 5 hurricane with the 160 mph winds. On October 4th Matthew came ashore in Haiti before moving through the middle of Cuba. Then all eyes up and down the eastern seaboard of the US were on Matthew. It seemed that Matthew was gunning for Florida but instead the cyclone made landfall near McClellanville, South Carolina on October 8th. The storm then moved up the east coast causing extensive flooding, even here in Tidewater.

“Each high tide the water in our backyard came up closer to the house. Our boat dock was well under water and the many of the streets here in Bay Colony were impassable for days. There was so much wind that I was frightened that one of the trees in our yard was going to crash down on our house,” said Matthew Gross an 8th grader at Cape Henry Collegiate (CHC). “To get out of our neighborhood you had to leave and come back at low tide and even then, it was challenging,” Gross concluded.

“Watching the wind whip through the trees was scary. The water crept closer to our house but thankfully we have a big backyard that slopes upward. I feel very fortunate. We were lucky. The flood waters kept us from leaving our neighborhood; but we were all safe and fortunately we did not even lose power. I felt badly for the many people who were without electricity for days,” Evan Gordon, a junior at CHC related.

Evan Gordon was right. While the impact on him and his family was nominal, that was not the case for Regi Alston a 11th grader at CHC. “So the storm affected my family tremendously. We lost power for three days and on the second day, groundwater began to enter the house. The water was well over 12 inches in every room. One of our cars was totaled due to flooding and a second vehicle is still in the shop being repaired. Once the power was back on, the flooding went down. My dad and I had to remove all the carpet from the house and throw away most of our furniture, as well as clothing, electronics, and many other items. We are currently looking for contractors to make the needed repairs to our house, which is currently in an uninhabitable condition. We are still living in a motel,” Alston explained. “As a result of the storm, I fell behind in some of my core classes but I am rapidly catching up,” Alston said with relief.

According to all of the people interviewed, one of the biggest problems was that few people were prepared because forecasters were assuring us that we were not in danger. While it is a well-known fact that forecasting is not fool proof, most of us depend on and trust the meteorologists. But the gospel truth is that Hurricane Matthew taught many the importance of always being prepared.