Matthew mostly misses
Abaco has escaped the worst of Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful storm to hit the region for some years. Due to a very fortuitous shift in its direction in the 48 hours before it reached the northern Bahamas (the hurricane’s eye was nudged a couple of degrees to the west), the direct hit on Abaco that had seemed inevitable was therefore avoided.
But such good fortune is always tempered by the knowledge that the change in direction brings others into the firing line – and, in this case, Matthew posed a serious threat to Nassau, Andros, the Berry Islands, Bimini, Grand Bahama and potentially much of the east coast of Florida. It is too early to assess the damage in those locations, although early reports are that Nassau was hit hard. And of course poor Haiti had a terrible time again, with over 300 fatalities.
The fact that communications with Max, the Club’s resident manager, were maintained throughout is a sign that conditions were not too extreme on Abaco. He told us by email that “It’s a pretty good storm; I now know that I never want to be in the middle of a hurricane! The wind noise is unbelievable. Very glad that we missed the main bulk of it”.
Nonetheless, the Club suffered ferocious winds, torrential rain and huge waves on the beach. We are waiting for a full damage assessment. But Max says things basically seem fine and our main worry – that the roof might lift off – was not realised. There will still be a lot of tidying up to do and the gardens are trashed.
We tracked Matthew from afar, in fact from the comfort of the Delphi Valley in Ireland. It was grimly fascinating to see the storm’s eye weave its way between Jamaica and Haiti (although still causing devastation to the latter), just touching Cuba, and then narrowly avoiding many of the larger Family Islands of the Bahamas. Things could have been so much worse. But, for some along the way, the damage was still horrendous.
Fortunately, the Club was in full lockdown and we were not due to have any guests for another two weeks or so. People often ask why we do not open for the summer. Well this is why – and preparing for such storms takes several days of hard work by several people.
Normally, October is not a big hurricane month; August and September are usually the height of the storm season. But Hurricane Sandy hit on October 26th 2012 and now we have Matthew (with Nicole lurking a little further out). Hopefully this is not going to be the future norm.
And before we count any chickens, the National Hurricane Centre now has Matthew executing a big loop and returning to Abaco on Tuesday as a tropical storm. I am not yet hearing any fat lady…
Max said yesterday, with classic English understatement, “It was not a good bonefishing day”. There could yet be a few more of those.