For those of us who live in Louisiana, these November days after Thanksgiving bring another big reason to be lucky. The Atlantic hurricane season officially ends on Nov. 30, and it appears that our part of the world will be spared damage from a big storm this year.
The hurricane season officially began June 1 and it concludes each year at the close of November. That’s the period when hurricane formation in the Atlantic is most likely. But Mother Nature doesn’t always read our calendars, and she sometimes has a mind of her own. Tropical Storm Alberto developed on May 25 — the fourth consecutive year that such a storm emerged before the official start of hurricane season.
Alberto proved an omen of an eventful season of bad weather. In September, Hurricane Florence struck the Carolinas, lingering for days and causing widespread flooding. For residents of the Baton Rouge area, Florence’s rains brought vivid reminders of the Great Storm of 2016, when an unnamed storm system hovered over the region, leaving much of the area underwater. As in 2017, when Hurricane Harvey drowned Houston, Louisiana residents looked to the devastation in North and South Carolina with a “There-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I” attitude.
Florence alone would have made this year’s hurricane season one for the record books. But last month, Hurricane Michael struck Florida, bringing more misery to the southeastern United States.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, so deeply etched in public memory since they ravaged Louisiana in 2005, gave us an enduring sense of what storms can do, an awareness renewed by Hurricane Gustav in 2008.
That reality informed hurricane preparations in Louisiana this year, as the development of storms in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico prompted contingency plans in case the storms hit Louisiana. We’re lucky the storms went elsewhere — and also fortunate that officials took measures to prepare for the worst.
Thousands going to live in motels, more thousands on the phone or the computer for hours to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
But Louisiana didn’t turn its back on those in the path of dangerous hurricanes this year. Relief workers and volunteers traveled to Florida and the Carolinas to help with the response and recovery. The Cajun Navy, of course, led the charge.
Someday, we’ll need to again rely on the kindness and courage of our fellow Americans when a hurricane comes our way.
For this year, though, we should be grateful that we dodged a bullet.