Eyeing Matthew, Remembering Gloria

We stood in the parking lot of the Bangor Daily News and watched the trees bend in the distance as the wind rushed through our hair.

The thing I remember most about Hurricane Gloria is how warm it felt for a late September evening, even one as windy and as rainy as that fall day. Something about it felt tropical, which makes sense considering the storm’s birth place and path it took to cross right through our backyard.

Hurricanes don’t reach Maine all that often, but in 1985, Gloria blew in as a category one storm before quickly dissipating as it moved over Atlantic Canada.

We knew Gloria was coming and there wasn’t much to do but wait for her.

Hurricane Gloria, as she looked in this 1985 satellite image as she rolled into New England.
Hurricane Gloria, as she looked in this 1985 satellite image as she rolled into New England. (Photo courtesy of NOAA.Gov)

We were a good 35 miles inland and knew much of the wind would be knocked down from the 100 mph range a hurricane can churn up. Gusts could reach that high, certainly, thus damage was possible, if not plausible.

So we hoped for the best.

Gloria formed on Sept. 16 and became a hurricane on Sept. 22. Two days later, when peak winds reached 145 miles per hour, she was upgraded to a category four storm — which on a scale of five meant she was both massive and deadly.

She hit the outer banks of North Carolina first, but added two more land falls, including Long Island, N.Y., and Western Connecticut, the place I now call home.

According to Hurricane Gloria’s wikipedia page, in Maine, “about 600,000 people lost power due to the storm, the most since the passage of hurricanes Carol and Edna in 1954. Winds in Maine reached 86 mph (138 km/h), and the storm knocked down about 100 power poles in addition to the downed lines. Downed trees blocked roads and damaged houses and cars. The winds damaged roofs, including the 127‑year‑old spire of a church in Groveville. Crop damage to the apple crop was estimated at $3 million. High waves along the coast damaged lobster traps and dozens of boats, many of which were driven ashore..”

We were lucky.

All told, Gloria took 14 lives and caused $900,000,000 in damage. And those are 1985 figures.

Today, Hurricane Matthew is the latest storm to bear down on the United States and it’s eyeing a state-wide scraping of Florida; a category four monster looking to ride right up the eastern seaboard into Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Girls hold hands as they help each other wade through a flooded street after the passing of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Two days after the storm rampaged across the country's remote southwestern peninsula, authorities and aid workers still lack a clear picture of what they fear is the country's biggest disaster in years. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Girls hold hands as they help each other wade through a flooded street after the passing of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In it’s bulls eye is West Palm Beach, where I just spent a week back in early-August.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also had a lot of old friends and some family members relocate to Florida.

Suddenly when a storm like this comes calling, it’s harder to ignore.

My prayers and thoughts are absolutely with those I know well in the Sunshine State, but it doesn’t end there.

Mother Nature shows no favorites and she picks and chooses her victims in complete randomness. Good people, bad people, rich people, poor people … it don’t matter.

Be safe, Florida. And you Georgia and the Carolinas.

We’ll see you all on the other side.

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