On My Mind: The Edge Of The Storm

Apr 13, 2020

Over the years I’ve ended up in the middle of several hurricanes.

You would think the worst part is when the hurricane actually hits. That’s bad, no doubt about it. I remember being in a hotel room in Wilmington and watching my plate-glass window warp and wobble for two solid hours, right on the edge of blowing apart.

But in some ways, the more nerve-wracking part is the hours before, when you don’t know how bad it’s going to be, and your imagination does its fearful work.

According to one estimate, from the University of Washington, this week will be when the coronavirus peaks in North Carolina. Their model has deaths from the virus peaking two days from now, on Wednesday, and in South Carolina on April 25.

A different North Carolina model, based on work from a group of scientists including ones at Duke and UNC, shows the peak coming in mid- to late May.

Both models depend on a bunch of variables, most importantly how well we stick to social distancing – the one thing that seems to make a difference in tamping down the spread of the virus.

But the larger point is that the worst of all this is almost on top of us now, close enough to feel.

Based on scientists’ best guesses, the virus will not be quite as bad as we first thought. But it is still going to kill tens of thousands of people in this country, and it might still overload hospitals here and everywhere.

So much depends on what path it takes, and how well those in the path are battened down.

The other thing about hurricanes is that they come and go from a place in a few hours, but the destruction can last for years. Crops rot in the fields and houses sprout mold and people lose their jobs for good.

There will be a day when we will all stumble outside again, free to do as we choose. But don’t expect the world to be just like it was. Living through a storm like this changes you, even if you don’t think about it. You’ll just be minding your own business one day, and there will be a tingle in the back of your neck, and that’s when you’ll notice that the wind has picked up.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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