Irma likely to head west, but remain on guard

Hurricane Matthew didn’t do The Robesonian many favors, straining our ability to inform readers while rendering our staff essentially homeless for eight months; however, it did save us a bit of embarrassment.

We will confess today for those who missed it: In an Oct. 8, 2016, Our View that was written early on the morning of Oct. 7, when Matthew was just arriving and was barely a Cat 1, this newspaper mockingly referred to it as Matt, saying that the once powerful Cat 5 was an abbreviation of its once-mighty self — and county residents shouldn’t expect much more than a Big Wet One.

But that Oct. 8 print edition was never published and delivered because our office flooded, so only those who read that Our View at were able to have a good laugh at our expense. Assuming a laugh were possible on Oct. 9, 2016, in Robeson County.

We all know what happened.

Robeson County residents, to include staff at this newspaper, are a bit jumpy at the thought of another event like Matthew. Last week forecasts for Hurricane Irma included Southeastern North Carolina and Robeson County in its projected path, so there was a lot of fretting going on — but there was also a lot of preparation, by local residents and by county and city officials charged with doing the best they can to keep the rest of us safe.

Long lines formed for gasoline, bread and water became hard to find at local grocery stories, and emergency officials began kicking the tires, making sure everything that would be needed was in working order.

But then a delightful thing happened — delightful, except for our friends to the west of us.

The spaghetti models began moving Irma farther and farther to the west, and as this is being written on Saturday morning, Robeson County is no longer included in the forecast cone. Southern Florida, especially the Keys, is likely to be massacred, and then Irma will move northwest, through the peninsula, across Georgia and into western South Carolina and Tennessee, weakening all the while.

It is now likely that it won’t even be a stiff wind in Robeson County, and that there will be no rain here.

But hurricanes are fickle, and while the science is better now than ever before, storms such as these don’t always follow the course that meteorologists map. Remember Hurricane Hugo in 1989? Robeson County residents went to bed the night before it hit expecting that it would plow straight into us, and awakened the next morning to find that instead it had smacked Charleston, S.C., and made a beeline to Charlotte.

So our advice isn’t to sleep on Irma quite yet.

But we can all send up a prayer for those already devastated by Irma, and those who will be, both in Florida and along its projected northwestern track.

It looks like Robeson County and most of North Carolina is going to get a pass, and for that we should be grateful. We were pleased last week, however, to see that local residents got busy in anticipation of Irma coming our way, because the best way to survive a major hurricane is to prepare for it.

Robeson County residents, still jittery from Matthew, were quick to do just that. We hope that feeling lingers in the future when hurricanes stalk us again — and they will.

Anyone in need of a refresher course on what these colossal hurricanes are capable of inflicting, need only to watch their televisions in the coming days. It will not be pretty.