Robeson County is due a break. Perhaps we will get one today.
As this is being written, Hurricane Michael is about to unleash its Cat 4 fury on the Florida Panhandle, causing the kind of havoc that hasn’t been since, well, about a month, when Hurricane Florence did a similar number on the coast of North Carolina before heading our way, parking and doing a Matthew redux locally.
The good news is that Michael is no slowpoke like Florence, so it will get here and be gone quickly, and Friday will open the door to a sunny weekend that will feel a lot like, well, autumn. It’s about time.
But we will have to earn that weekend reward.
The local forecast for Michael is for between 4 and 6 inches of rain, and wind gusts that could approach 50 mph. The Lumber River, normally our friend, but a foe too frequently the past two years and three days, is about a foot below flood stage and is expected to rise to just shy of 15 feet after Michael, not good, but also not capable of the disruption caused by Matthew and Florence, both to travel, homes, and commerce.
But today is going to be uncomfortable and bumpy, with rain coming down in sheets and trees swaying back and forth.
The dynamic is interesting.
Matthew and Florence have taught us to take these storms seriously and that forecasts can be wrong, as with Matthew, or spot-on, as with Florence. So will local folks fear the worst and prepare accordingly, or be lulled by the fact that Michael, when compared with Matthew and Florence, will amount to not much more than a stiff, wet breeze?
Our belief is that most people, twice burned, will be cautious, and prepare accordingly.
Robeson County residents are understandably weary with still-fresh memories of Matthew, whose recovery is continuing, and Florence, whose recovery is just beginning. There has been so much disruption for everyone, even the lucky families whose homes escaped with minor injuries, but whose parents perhaps don’t have a place to work, or whose children are still unable to attend school.
It is understandable that anytime we see multiple inches of rain in the forecast that folks get nervous, worrying that if the prediction is just a couple of inches off there will be local devastation. We are told, however, that any flooding today will almost certainly be localized, and those residents who have suffered the most, in West and South Lumberton as well as Mayfair, don’t have to worry that water once again will be rushing into their homes.
What is almost certain, however, is some flooded streets and that some trees, already rooted in saturated soil, and utility lines will come down, knocking out power, and plunging people into the dark to make for a difficult day. Patience will then be required as utility crews are dispatched to get power restored, but that can’t happen until conditions are not a threat to anyone’s safety.
The funny thing is we would venture that most Robeson County residents would take that scenario right now. That is what now passes for good luck when a named storm decides to pay us a visit.