Thursday, September 29, 2016

T.S. Matthew

Some of you have inquired about my status as Tropical Storm Matthew passed through the West Indies. The bottom line is that I am fine. We've had intermittent rain and wind, with the tall palm trees bending and the broad banana leaves flapping. From my cottage I saw lots of whitecaps extending well out into the Atlantic, but overall it really hasn't been very bad this time. Electricity and Internet went off a few times, but never for a long period. The water pressure dwindled ominously a couple of times, but I never went entirely without tap water (I drink filtered spring water, but use the tap water for dishwashing, showers, etc.).

School was cancelled yesterday and today, but Matthew was somewhat weak here, hitting St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines more than Dominica. I would liken it to the mild Tropical Storm Danny last year, thus not comparing to the devastating Tropical Storm Erika or even Tropical Storm Grace last year. [Yes, this is my fourth named storm in just over a year--I'd be fine if it was my last.]

I stayed indoors all day yesterday, but today I went down to check on the school for the principal. There was no damage, but some tree branches were down on the hillside behind the school. The beach area across from the school was littered with driftwood, coconuts, and debris from the high storm tide. It had been the highest tide since I've been here, eating away the low sandy “hill” where the waves crash ashore. The water had been up higher than the green benches in the coconut grove, almost washing away the remaining huts from the village feast. Fortunately, our village fisherman had moved his boat to higher ground.

The Peace Corps has kept us well informed throughout this situation with frequent weather and safety messages. We were under what the Peace Corps calls a “Standfast” (as opposed to “Consolidation” where we all gather at the same hotel in the capital to ride out a storm, which we did last year for Tropical Storm Grace), thus we had to stay home and were not to leave our village. They really look out for our security and take good care of us.

School will not be held again until Monday. This is because the last Friday of each month is called “Salary Day.” It is a day off for teachers to go to the capital and do their banking.

Here are a few photos of our beautiful beach as it looked earlier today.

Look close and you can see a couple of my students playing in the debris.
The area above is normally a long way from the water.

One of my students jumped into the last picture.

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