03 Oct 2017

Jose and Co. Visits Nantucket

Time Magazine’s 1986 Woman of the Year and Asia’s first female president, Corazon “Cory” Aquino, once concluded, “Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit that bears things…with blazing, serene hope.” This was a woman who knew first-hand about the storms of life and the literal storms that would batter the Philippines. It’s a sentiment people around the globe and here on Nantucket have needed to employ repeatedly in recent weeks.
We watched in horror as it began with Hurricane Harvey bringing total devastation to our friends and loved ones in Texas, Louisiana and other parts of the southern United States. We barely had time to collect our thoughts and organize the fundraisers before Irma wreaked havoc on the Caribbean Islands and then threatened to annihilate the entire state of Florida in what was feared could be the single worst storm ever recorded. Still in shock from the media images and reports from loved ones in the battered areas, we nibbled our fingernails here on Nantucket as we wondered if the next storms Jose or Maria might work their way up the coast toward us.
Sure enough, Jose did hug the eastern seaboard…and just like the large pod of whales who settled in along the south shore for an extended stay this summer…Jose dropped anchor just off the coast of Nantucket and threw himself a hurricane size fit for 5 straight days. Like many of our friends on remote islands along the eastern U.S. or in the Caribbean, Nantucketers are no strangers to strong storms or Nor’easters. We knew to stock up on water and food supplies, candles and batteries. We put away outdoor furnishings and hauled our boats out of the water. We battened down the hatches – literally and figuratively.
With the dueling storms simultaneously swirling in the Atlantic, it was hard not to feel anxious. As we watched the tv and social media accounts in disbelief of what Maria was doing to our neighbors in Puerto Rico, it became easier to keep things in perspective. Jose’s relentless wind and rain event was not causing major destruction to our island or our families…it was simply an irritation. We understood that no planes or boats on Nantucket were an inconvenience and nothing more. A little flooding, erosion and wind damage were no cause for complaint. Even as weddings and other major long-planned events were postponed or interrupted, the human spirit prevailed as locals offered their assistance with everything from venue alternatives to housing for those stranded on the island, storm drain clean out assistance and lending of portable sump pumps.
Even while navigating the stormy days, the hearts of everyone on Nantucket stayed close to all those who were suffering unimaginable devastation just to the south of us. A prayer vigil was held on Friday night and a variety of fundraisers and clothing drives were being planned to offer assistance, with over 500 coats gathered by the American Legion alone. Mother Nature has been unusually cruel during this unprecedented hurricane season, but the “serene hope” Cory Aquino referenced rules the day. The human spirit and the Nantucket spirit will not be broken.
No Way.
Shellie Dunlap
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