For anyone who has ever had to face down the awful options when faced with a hurricane, especially one like Florence, both hard decisions and hard work is necessary.
During my 20+ years either working long-term assignments or living in the southern regions of the U.S., it was almost a regular thing to get to Labor Day and wonder who was going to be affected by decisions related to boarding up, packing, going to higher ground, and—for some—ignoring the warnings and going about their day. My earliest exposure was back with Hurricane David in the ’80s when I watched my beloved NASA fight with the options to bring an orbiter in from the launch pad or leave it there and wrestle with the risks. This wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last. Even today, safe and sound many miles from any chance of hurricane-force winds, rising tides or risk from flood waters, I’m saddened that our decisions are played out on public media like a retelling of a Shakespearean plan. Will she or won’t she? That is the question.
With memories of so many big hurricanes recently on the Gulf Coast—not least of which Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 up to Harvey over Houston in 2017—the media is certain to add some melodrama to the situation. They will always find “Uncle Bob” who ran out of the house without his shirt and shoes, and many will mock the humor associated with the hardships that many of these people will face. To the fine people of the Carolinas, we feel your pain, understand your challenges, and hope that the worst is past you. We know that many first, second and third responders are out there helping to keep people safe and to lend a hand as needed. We hope the awful sadness and hardships that befell 2017 will not be repeated in 2018. We can only hope that the path forward is brighter than the one you just passed over.