There are far worse kinds of editorials we might have to write a day after a hurricane blows through the county than one like this saying we more or less avoided Mother Nature’s worst. Again.
Hurricane Nicholas, which was predicted to bring possibly catastrophic flooding to the island and in the north county, turned out to bring more wind than water. There was some dune and property damage but, for the most part, we came out OK. Again.
That’s certainly not meant to diminish any damage that county residents are dealing with in Nicholas’ wake. But all in all, it could have been much worse, and it has been here and elsewhere near here.
New Orleans as of Tuesday afternoon was being battered again, with Nicholas hitting the Crescent City just a few weeks after Hurricane Ida devastated it.
Last year, Hurricane Laura passed by Galveston County without so much as a broken branch, after days of fearful speculation about where and when it would hit. People evacuated, took shelter on higher ground, stocked up on water and essentials — luckily, for naught.
As we breathed a sigh of relief the morning after Category 4 Laura was supposed to hit, the storm rushed ashore near Cameron, Louisiana, wreaking havoc in places such as Orange and Port Arthur and pummeling Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The message to arise out of Nicholas is the same we trumpeted after Laura: When it comes to hurricanes, don’t get cocky. Yes, we were spared again. But each storm has to be taken on its own merit.
“There are reasons we tell people that when there are hazards in their area, they have to pay attention to the latest information,” said Tim Cady, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Things can change, and they do change.”
Whether the Caribbean sends us more stormy weather this season, or we manage to dodge the bullet until next year, when those warnings come, don’t let down your guard. And whether it’s June or September, don’t assume it’s too early or too late in the season for a major hit. Hurricane season begins when it begins — sometimes sooner — and it’s over when it’s over.
And whatever you do, don’t let the near-misses make you take storm warnings any less seriously.
Yes, the sun was shining and the sky was blue, and we were all safe on Tuesday morning as Nicholas moved on. But that was this time. And yes, it was the same the past two times, with Ida and Laura.
But the picture might look much different next time. And there will be a next time, and a next time and a next time. This is the Gulf Coast, after all.
Stay safe. Stay smart. Never count on the mysterious, unpredictable benevolence of nature to spare us. And don’t let near-misses fool you into hurricane complacency.
• Margaret Battistelil Gardner