Can’t say that we weren’t warned that Hurricane Matthew is coming

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Residents stock up on plywood in advance of Hurricane Matthew in Home Depot at the Mall of the Americas.
Residents stock up on plywood in advance of Hurricane Matthew in Home Depot at the Mall of the Americas. rkoltun@miamiherald.com

Well, we hope that you’re ready; that there are gallons of water in the storage room; cans of tuna in the pantry; and gas in the tank — including the generator’s. Hopefully, shutters are up, tensions are down and there’s a safe place for the kids, since schools are closed.

Hurricane Matthew’s winds are due to get really whipped up by Thursday afternoon. As of Wednesday evening, the Category 4 storm was projected to hug Florida’s east coast, bringing tropical-storm force winds. But a wobble to the west could make them even stronger. Here’s hoping for a wobble to the east.

Matthew’s force has already brought devastation to parts of Haiti and Cuba, and was bearing down on the Bahamas.

Miami Beach, which has been gamely addressing its flooding challenges, got an early sample of what might happen when Matthew’s rain, winds and gusts are at their strongest. New drainage systems appeared to be overwhelmed Wednesday by a mere thunderstorm. Though two pumping stations either were not working, or not working at full capacity, because of repairs being done, other parts of the city were submerged because of high tides and the heavy rains of the thunderstorm.

City administrators were taking remedial action, including temporary pumps, to get beyond the initial flooding and ready the city for Matthew.

On the state level, we commend Gov. Rick Scott for taking Hurricane Matthew’s threat seriously and acting sooner rather than later. His experience with approaching storms, near hits and actual landfall over the years showed when he declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties on Monday, before the hurricane even made landfall in the Caribbean.

His executive order then set into motion shelter preparation and other necessities for evacuations. It also, as per state law, prohibits business from jacking up prices for essential commodities such as food, gas, lumber and water. (And, by the way, anyone suspecting a business of price-gouging can call in a complaint to the state attorney general’s office at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM).

Wednesday, the governor doubled down, imploring recalcitrant Floridians to get out of Dodge. “This is a dangerous storm, and it is never too early to evacuate,” Gov. Scott said at a morning briefing. “You must leave before it’s too late. We cannot put first-responders’ lives at risk during the storm.” Exactly.

Gov. Scott got out in front of storm, with the right message at the right time. Fingers crossed that all comparisons to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 are overstated.