High Winds, but Sigh of Relief, at Cape Canaveral
The Kennedy Space Center, and the space program that depends on it, may have dodged a bullet.
As Hurricane Matthew moved north, it passed Cape Canaveral, according to NASA blog, with recorded sustained winds of 90 miles per hour and gusts up to 107 miles per hour —lower than initially feared but still enough to cause damage.
A 10:07 posting said there was “limited roof damage” and debris around the facility, with water and electric power disrupted. Storm surge, which might have been an enormous problem for the site, “has been observed to be relatively minimal.”
A team of more than 100 people checking out the damage will not be able to get a more thorough look until winds die down a bit more; a damage assessment and recovery team will be brought in for a formal examination on Saturday.
William Harwood, who covers the space program for CBS from the area, spent the night at the Brevard County Emergency Operations Center and reported rainfall totals at 8 to 12 inches at the space center, with a storm surge of one to five inches. It was “much lower than expected,” he wrote in a tweet.
Big Storm, Big Headlines
Newspapers across Florida captured the approach of the storm. You can view a selection of them here.
What It’s Like to be Trapped by a Category 5 Hurricane
Lizette Alvarez, a Times reporter, recalled her night in Florida City, Fla., in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed most of the motel she was staying in. Read more»
Death Toll in Haiti Tops 280
The Haitian government says more than 280 people had died during the hurricane, drastically revising earlier estimates as more of the affected areas are reached by aid workers, according to local reports.
Now that transportation and at least some communication to those areas have been restored, a fuller picture of the damage is emerging, officials said at a news conference held by the Ministry of Interior. The deaths come amid a broad tableau of devastation: houses pummeled into timber, crops destroyed and large parts of towns and villages under several feet of water. — AZAM AHMED in Miami
Tips for Surviving a Hurricane (Learned the Hard Way)
If they tell you to get out — get out. Water rises swiftly and is more powerful than most people could imagine. And put your valuables in the fridge. What one New York Times editor learned four years ago during Hurricane Sandy. Read more»
Evacuating a Family, From Afar
Tiffanie Daudelin Pretto was desperate to get into South Carolina, where she lives, and then to get out.
So it was with a mixture of relief and trepidation that Ms. Daudelin Pretto, a registered nurse, on Thursday night boarded a mostly empty plane to Charleston from Washington. She had been in the area for two weeks of professional training that she was not allowed to leave early, even as South Carolina began mandatory evacuations along its coastline this week.
Stuck in the Washington area, Ms. Daudelin Pretto had no choice but to direct her children, who are 16 and 19, and her in-laws from a distance on Wednesday as they evacuated from their home in Summerville, outside Charleston.
“I had them take themselves and the pets and meet up with Grandma and Grandpa, and they all caravanned to Atlanta,” Ms. Daudelin Pretto said. “I was such a nervous wreck all day. It’s a mother’s worst nightmare.”
As Ms. Daudelin Pretto spoke on the plane, her in-laws were staying with family in Atlanta and her children and the family’s three cats were safely ensconced in a hotel room there. She pulled out the selfie they had sent to prove it.
She planned to meet her husband at the airport and drive straight to Atlanta without even stopping at home, because she was concerned that closed roads would make it difficult to get there.
“My pets are safe. My children are safe. If the house gets destroyed, so be it — but I’d rather it not, since we just moved in a year ago,” Ms. Daudelin Pretto said. She added, “I really don’t expect much to be left of my home when I get back.” — JESS BIDGOOD in Charleston, S.C.
‘I’m Afraid for My Home’
People who live near the coast or in mobile homes or who just did not want to test their luck at home lugged suitcases and cases of water, sometimes clutching their favorite pillows as their minds drifted to what they left behind.
Lois Paul, 78, was one of 130 people at an elementary school in Brevard County, Fla., that was being used as a shelter on Thursday.
“My house is blue; I call it ‘my blue heaven,’” Mrs. Paul said. “This one can blow your house away.”
Mrs. Paul brought patio cushions to sleep on, sheets, pillows, an extra set of clothes and a windbreaker. She has done this three times before, during Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne in 2004.
“I’m afraid for my home,” she said. “The worst part is not knowing what’s going on there while you’re away. You just don’t know what you’re going to find when you get home.” — FRANCES ROBLES in Titusville, Fla.
Campaigns Are Affected
The effect of the storm is being felt on the presidential campaign, too. A joint appearance by Hillary Clinton and President Obama planned for Wednesday in Miami Gardens, Fla., was postponed. The Trump campaign was also affected: The Miami Herald reported that Ivanka Trump had scrapped a fund-raiser planned for Wednesday night at the Trump National Doral golf resort.
The hurricane could steal attention away from the campaign if it causes extensive damage. The Clinton campaign was preparing for that possibility, investing in advertising on the Weather Channel in markets across Florida, according to Politico. — ALAN RAPPEPORT in Washington
Our Reporter Is Taking Hurricane Questions
John Schwartz, a New York Times reporter who covers climate change and the environment, is answering reader questions about the storm. He rode out his first hurricane, Carla, in his hometown, Galveston, Tex., at age 4. He has covered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as well as other storms for The Times.
Ask your hurricane questions here.
What is the relationship between Hurricane Matthew and climate change? How important is it for the news media to depict and discuss this? — Cynthia Young
Cynthia, this is one of the great questions of our age — not just establishing the role of climate change on extreme weather events, but also in stating clearly what we know and do not know. Short answer: It is difficult to attribute a particular storm to climate change, especially in the middle of the action.
But climate scientists are working at quick attribution, and that science is developing. After interviewing Gabriel A. Vecchi, a climate researcher, I put it this way in an article a few weeks ago:
The issue might appear to be simple: Warmer oceans provide more energy for storms, so storms should get more numerous and mighty. But other factors have complicated the picture, he said, including atmospheric changes that can affect wind shear, a factor that keeps cyclones from forming.
Kerry A. Emanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the evidence suggested climate change would cause the strongest storms to grow even stronger, and to be more frequent. Unresolved questions surround the effect of warming on the weaker storms, but even those will dump more rain, leading over time to increased damage from flooding.
How The Times Prepares for a Coming Storm
Two veteran journalists discuss the challenges inherent in covering hurricanes. Read more»