Lessons from Matthew

More than a week before, meteorological services already showed the graphic models with possible routes for hurricane Matthew, some with land impact on the US.

Day by day information was getting more accurate, to the point that the threat was confirmed in the direction of the American east coast. Communication services (radio, television, newspapers, app and others) began to devote more and more space to inform people about the recent news, as well as guidance on the actions that precede a Category 4 hurricane, with winds between 210-250 km/h.

For our family it was a very tense experience. The lack of experience facing a threat of this magnitude could be the difference between being able to tell the story, be in trouble or stand on the rubble.

We followed the guidelines of the National Hurricane Center of NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which provides all the preventive care that should be adopted for adequate actions and preparedness in case of hurricane landfall.

The three days before the arrival of Matthew were quite tense and worrying, because we didn’t know yet whether to stay home with hurricane shutters or evacuate to an area outside the hurricane cone.

It was difficult to find drinking water and propane for cooking, the firsts to run out. Gas stations had huge queues. Supermarkets and home improvement stores were crowded, too. People were all looking for the same things: canned food, water, propane and plywood to strengthen the protection of their homes.

About 30 hours before we begin to see that Matthew had already passed through Cuba and kept being a category 4, with a chance of passing close to the shore on our area, without landfall. Only 12 hours before we had confirmation that we would be out of the most dangerous area and that the effects in our region would be equivalent to a strong tropical storm.

The authorities, the press and the emergency services were fully mobilized and ready to guide and assist the population in every city with possibility of impact. We also learnt that the days following the hurricane are the worst due to the lack of power, shops being closed, hospitals crowded, etc.

The great lesson is that you cannot leave to the last minute to get prepared. You have to be very well informed about the risks of such an event, in addition to taking care of all matters to your family and protection of your assets in advance.

We are already preparing for the next hurricane season!

Igor Pipolo, ADS, ASE
Corporate Security, Risk Management, HSSE, Compliance & Fraud Investigation.