‘Monster’ Matthew: How the US Is Preparing for the Strongest Hurricane of the Decade
After racking Haiti and Cuba, Hurricane Matthew headed towards Florida. If the storm does not die out, it will become the strongest to hit the US coast in the past decade. Anna Morozova, who lives in Orlando, observes how the Americans are preparing to meet the ‘Monster named Matthew’.
Matthew first turned up on the news in late September. It was almost always identified as a Category 5 Hurricane, which is a classification given to the strongest cyclones. The wind that reached the speed of 250 km/h left behind flooding and catastrophic destruction. The press immediately called Matthew a monster and scaremongering ensued.
Children sit inside a damaged church in Saint-Louis, Haiti, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery / AP Photo / East News
People watch from both sides of the La Digue River as water roars past where the Petit Goave bridge once stood, in Petit Goave, Haiti, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery / AP Photo / East News
A man carries a woman across a river at Petit Goave where a bridge collapsed during the rains, October 5, 2016. Photo: HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP / East News
A man sits inside of what is left of his home with his cousin after it was damaged by the hurricane. Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery / AP Photo / East News
The speed of the hurricane currently reaches 200 km/h and may increase again, the US warns. In Haiti, the hurricane took the lives of at least 22 people. Four more died in the neighboring Dominican Republic. And the numbers are expected to be much higher. There were no reports about victims in Cuba, but 8-meter waves destroyed buildings and washed away bridges in the north of the country, and over a million of people were evacuated.
Last week, people in Florida could not yet hear thunder, but could already observe how ‘monster Matthew’ — the strongest hurricane in the region in the past decade — washes Haiti, Jamaica, and a part of Cuba together with the Dominican Republic into the Atlantic. After that, Matt headed towards the States. That’s when things got going.
Depending on their style, TV channels used different words to describe the impending situation: from the ‘God’s avenging hand of the Judgement Day’ to a simple ‘f*ck’. On October 4, with a heavy heart and cringing from the expenses, the Florida governor finally declared a state of emergency across the state. Obligatory evacuation was scheduled for some of the coastal areas.
The waterfront of Baracoa, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Photo: Ramon Espinosa / AP Photo / East News
A fisherman looks at the sea at Caira Beach, in the commune of Leogane, to the southwest from Port-au-Prince, on October 3, 2016. Photo: HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP / East News
A group of nuns survey the damage to their home in Baracoa, Cuba, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. Photo: Ramon Espinosa / AP Photo / East News
A boy and a woman walk next to the remains of houses in Baracoa, Cuba, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. Photo: Ramon Espinosa / AP Photo / East News
Federal government recommended over 2 million citizens of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina to leave their homes. If the storm reaches Florida and maintains the current Category 3 strength, it will become the strongest hurricane to hit the US coast since 2005.
By Wednesday morning, all shops were out of drinking water and batteries. Whole Foods, a chain for high-end customers, politely announced that they were out of Perrier, but had French champagne and fresh strawberries, with candles to go with them, encouraging the customers to have a romantic getaway. Meanwhile, in Walmart, people started fighting over the last tuna cans and Campbell’s soup. Women stoically pushed carts filled with orange juice, Diet Coke, chips, popcorn, and cheese sticks. It was the first and only time when I observed a nightmare of a Soviet emigrant in reality — people queuing for sausage in the US.
Every gas station was crowded with cars and people with canisters, gas prices flew up in front of our eyes. Police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks raced around the city hauling their sirens. Numerous school buses were taking happy children home. All municipal institutions, including schools and universities, will be closed for the following couple of days.
At a traffic light, a man in a white robe with the poster ‘Repent, sodomites!’ is running between the cars stuck in a traffic jam. Rainbow flags are mockingly fluttering in the wind behind his back, in the neighboring liberal Thornton Park. Heavy, endless, almost as if from the Old Testament, dark clouds are gathering above it. The floodgates of heaven are about to open wide and drown the sinners in a punitive flood.