(Originally printed October 20216)
The biggest news of that year traveled through the impoverished country of Haiti in October of 2016 and killed, at least, 1,000 people. Hurricane Matthew then trounced Cuba and the Bahamas before making landfall in South Florida early the following week. With an undetermined number of deaths before it ever reached the mainland, Matthew bears responsibility for eighteen fatalities in the U.S. with more than half those in the state of North Carolina. There were four deaths reported in Florida, the same number in Georgia, and another two in South Carolina.
Most of those who perished were the result of falling trees and one case of an elderly resident at a nursing home in South Carolina who somehow became trapped beneath his motorized wheel chair. One Florida gentleman died after being blown from his roof while trying to complete repairs during the storm. Other fatalities were caused by carbon monoxide fumes from an emergency generator.
Though then nation regretted the reported deaths, countless lives were saved due to the quick actions of the respective local and state officials, coast guard units and first responders from each area. Thousands were reportedly rescued from fast rising flood waters that left people trapped atop cars, on rooftops and even in trees from where coast guard members had to pluck them to safety. Flooding became even more of a concern than the sixty to as fast as one hundred and ten mile per hour winds with rainfall totals measured in some places up to eighteen inches. Countless reports of toppled trees and downed power lines had tree surgeons, utility crews, and first responders hopping from South Florida all the way up the east cost into North Carolina and as much as 100 miles inland in some areas.
The Hebrew meaning of “Matthew” is interpreted as: a gift from God which would understandably prompt one to question what kind of charity could possibly be derived from a hurricane as destructive as what was just experienced by the southeastern part of the country. Firstly, one must understand that the projected path of the hurricane as originally forecast would have had the “cone” or eye travel directly up the eastern seaboard from Miami, FL as far north as Charleston, SC. I choose to believe it was the result of much prayer that had the hurricane shift about twenty to thirty miles farther east before West Palm Beach, FL. This seemingly insignificant “wobble” meant the difference in the fifty to seventy mile per hour winds Jacksonville and coastal Georgia experienced and sustained winds of a hundred and twenty miles per hour with gusts up to one hundred and forty miles per hour.
Meteorologists listed the damage would have been significantly worse had the hurricane continued on its originally forecasted path. One reporter stated, had the coast taken a direct hit, the resulting carnage was speculated to have mirrored the devastation of hurricane Andrew that occurred in 1992.
To those who will believe on the scriptures, Matthew 24:5-8 (KJV) holds a more significant meaning when this passage declares: “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
And still, there are those who feel the bible is just a bunch of nonsense scripted by a group of bearded men in robes who had no idea what they were writing two thousand years ago; never mind the fact prophesies are being fulfilled every day. That’s a debate that can be continued another two thousand years…if the Lord hasn’t returned before then.
In many respects, even the destruction of hurricane Matthew can be seen as a blessing and a precaution wrapped in one powerful event. All the nation and the world should have been taking heed but, just like in the days of Noah, there were non-believers who persisted in the activities of their daily lives right up until the first drop of rain fell. Forty days and nights later, it was a completely different story excepting the fact none of them were around to be told the ending. With massive earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, famine, disease and all manner of “warnings” people still choose to not believe in the Word. Only this time it won’t be water falling from the sky that gets their attention but a slightly hotter element. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.