Hurricane Matthew: Apocalypse Not Now

My wife Mary and I live in central Florida. Hurricane Matthew was expected to hit us around 8am Friday morning. Around 5pm Thursday, I decided to pick up a few groceries. It was too late. Every supermarket was closed. Streets were empty. It felt like I was driving on the set of a sci-fi movie.

We lost power 10pm Thursday night. Mid-morning Friday, the worst of the storm had passed us. Thank God we only lost one tree, which missed our house, and one section of our fence.

Mary and I took a ride to assess neighborhood damage. The streets were empty. A picture window was smashed at the corner food mart/gas station. We suspected it was the result of thug damage rather than hurricane damage. We saw three young black guys with their pants below their butts approaching. Accuse me of profiling, but my instincts told me they were up to no good. Sure enough, they spotted the broken window and made a beeline to it. I told Mary to video them with her phone. My foot hovered above the gas pedal for a fast getaway. When the thugs saw Mary shooting them, they wandered away. Mary called the emergency number posted on the store window.

Saturday morning our power came back on, but went out again after a few hours. I immediately went to a big-box hardware store for materials to repair our fence to keep Sammy, our fast-running greyhound, in our background. Our power did not return until late Monday evening.

I have never given much thought to the whole “prepper thing”, survivalists preparing for emergencies and political disruption. But I tell you, folks, witnessing the effect of only a two-day interruption of the public's daily routine has me thinking.

Saturday morning was very chaotic. Traffic was super heavy; extreme long lines at gas stations; supermarket shelves were empty and finding ice was impossible. I thought, my gosh, it was only a two-day interruption in our daily life and yet, it feels like we are in the midst of an apocalypse. Not that I subscribe to it, but the internet is filled with talk of an attack on our power grid before the election; the WH declaring martial law. Seeing the chaos of less than a week without power, I can imagine the devastation of a real attack along with an extended loss of power. Maybe I should start hoarding water and Ramen noodles.

At the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, life has taught me to look for the blessing in every situation.

Though I hated being without power, no computer, no phone, and no 60-inch flat-screen TV, I decided to make the best of it. With a hammer, nails, and a hand saw, I rebuilt a long-neglected rotten trellis. Using my ax, I chopped up the felled tree. I repaired Mary's wooden raised garden box and added new cow manure. I chuckled thinking, how many guys' wives would be excited about their hubby buying them 80 pounds of manure? The additional exercise proved beneficial to my blood sugar number.

Mary and I enjoyed a lovely candlelight dinner which she prepared on our grill; relaxing music played on our battery-powered radio.

There was also a considerable amount of neighbor-bonding; helping and consoling each other. We constantly heard someone's generator a few streets away. My next-door neighbor expressed a bit of generator envy. Sounding slightly annoyed, he said, “Not five minutes after the power went out, that guy fired up his generator.” I thought, I would do the same.

Call me Abe Lincoln reading by candlelight. I felt proud of myself roughing it. Then I thought, for crying out loud, Lloyd, this is what people did forever before electricity. A little discomfort is good for you spiritually; helping to keep your flesh in submission.

Back in the 1970s when I was in U.S. Army basic training, the main thing they taught us was how to be okay with discomfort. For example, they would pile us pressed tightly standing over a bench inside a truck. Then, the drill instructor would say, “Now sit!” This is how we would ride to training locations.

By candlelight, I began reading, “Serendipity in Business: Unexpected Lessons & Opportunities” by Q. L. Snook.

“Serendipity will bring gifts and rewards to you when you least expect it. It will come as long as you are in the pursuit of something else. Serendipity does not favor stagnation (sitting on unemployment), rather it favors movement. This is the only prerequisite for being blessed with gifts serendipity has to offer.”

Thank you, Mr. Snook, for a nugget of wisdom resulting from not having electrical power to watch football.

I will end giving thanks to God. Our home built by the Mackle Brothers in the 1960s is like a tank. We have survived hurricanes Charley, Francis, Jean and now Matthew. All three cats, six cockatiels, three parakeets, our greyhound, Mary and I did just fine. Praise God!

Hours before the power came back on, we heard someone yell the f word from a few streets away. It was the guy with the generator. It broke down. We laughed.

Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American

Chairman: The Conservative Campaign Committee

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