AS I write this, the entire coast of South Carolina to our north is under a mandatory evacuation order with the approach of Hurricane Florence.
While for the moment there is no such order for Chatham County, we are experiencing a collective moment of deja vu.
- Hurricane Florence: No, it's not a "she"
This is the third year in a row where there has been a major storm threat to Savannah. Matthew in 2016, Irma in 2017, and now Florence and a series of storms following behind, as the 2018 hurricane season ramps up in intensity.
This also happens to be the time of year when Connect Savannah puts out three, count ‘em, three special issues in a row: The Savannah Craft Brew Fest edition, the College Student Guide, and the Fall Arts Preview you are reading right now.
Not coincidentally, this also begins the height of Savannah social season, or at least the autumn social season.
As these storms pick up in frequency and intensity with the ongoing influence of climate change, I wonder if the time will come when Savannah will have to adjust its precious social calendar.
Could we eventually see fewer events in an already jam-packed October, with more being moved into November and December?
It may sound ridiculous, but remember that Hurricane Matthew essentially caused October 2016 here to either be rescheduled or canceled entirely.
By this point I’m an old hand at covering hurricanes, so here are a few more pertinent observations and/or wisecracks suitable for the storm season:
STORMS AREN’T ACTUALLY PEOPLE: The fashion of naming hurricanes after people is ridiculous. Anthropomorphizing something so primordial and so scientific in nature seems like an easy way to make people in the storm’s path complacent about its true effect.
Of course, for years hurricanes were named only after women, which is pretty much the definition of misogyny.
I constantly hear people refer to storms named after women by derogatory names, for example “that bitch Irma,” or God forbid even the “c” word.
Please stop doing this!
Back in the day, people had much less warning about hurricanes, and tended to name them after when the storm hit, such as the great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.
Isn’t that a more somber expression of respect for the power of nature than, say, “Hurricane Trixie” or something like that?
If we can’t go back to that system, I think we should do away with naming storms after men or women, and just give them numbers.
NOT EVERYONE KNOWS MUCH ABOUT HURRICANES: I constantly have to remind myself these days that there is a huge influx of new arrivals to the Savannah area, drawn here mostly by their idyllic vision of Savannah as a peaceful Southern utopia.
Many of them don’t really find out until they get here that we have things like cockroaches, mosquitoes, gnats, ungodly humidity — and hurricanes.
Anyone who has grown up here has a weird intimacy with hurricanes. But if you try and talk to someone from, say, California about the threat of hurricanes, often all you’ll get is a blank stare, or maybe an absent-minded nod.
The true enormity and ferocity of a hurricane is beyond the ability of most folks to comprehend unless they have lived through one, or at least evacuated for one.
So keep in mind that your new neighbor from Ohio might not get what all the fuss is about. They might need a crash course in what it really means to be on the business end of a storm like Florence.
ABOUT MEDIA ‘HYPE’ AND ‘SENSATIONALISM’: Conversely, one of the most annoying things about old-timers here is the condescending attitude many display about the media and weather forecasters trying to do their job of responsibly informing people about severe, life-threatening natural disasters.
In the wake of so many deadly, horrendous storms such as Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Hugo, Wilma, etc. etc. etc., it is frankly unbelievable that anyone could take the threat so lightly as to think the media is overplaying weather coverage.
If anything, in my experience people don’t keep up near enough with hurricane coverage, and often need to be told the same important information over and over and over again.
Of course, most of these genius “experts” who constantly bash local media for “sensationalizing” hurricane coverage are the first ones to start panicking when the storm actually does get close.
BOTTLED WATER: I’ve always wondered why there is such a frenzy to run to the store and buy up all the bottled water when a storm approaches, when you can fill up all the containers you want with tap water at home basically for free.
I’ve been given various reasons why this is so, ranging from folks just not liking the taste of our tap water, to not liking how it reacts with plastic containers when it sits for awhile, etc.
We all have reasons for doing what we do, but it seems to me that if we are hit by a storm of such intensity as to knock out the water system — something I’ve never seen happen here — you’ll have worse problems to deal with than how your water tastes.
Maybe binge-buying bottled water is just a comforting ritual that makes you think you’re more prepared than you really are?
In any case, let’s hope that having too much bottled water on hand is the worst thing any of us has to face this week, as we see what Hurricane Florence has in store for the east coast.