Korten, Tristam. Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle For Survival.
Confessional: this was a very difficult book for me to read. When I first requested it from LibraryThing I thought time and circumstance had adequately removed me from emotion. In other words, I thought I was far enough away from the story’s potential emotional impact. My father was a member of the U. S. Coast Guard. His responsibility in the service was Search and Rescue. Even though my father has been dead for over 25 years the urgency with which the Coast Guard acted and the determination of rescue swimmer, Ben Cournia, had a profound effect on me.
Additionally, I am from Maine. My mother’s little town of Rockland was devastated by the loss of so many Maine Maritime Academy graduates. It’s a grief that, to this day, lingers on the resident’s stoic faces.
But, having made my confession there is something else to admit. Emotional impact, especially one that lingers, is the sign of a well-told story. Korten stirred the memory pot and moved me to tears with his eloquent writing. Even if I had been a landlocked farmer in the Midwest Into the Storm would be just as powerful.
Korten’s detail of the events of September 29th, 2015 builds in tempo like the events that unfolded before, during and after Hurricane Joaquin’s rage. In the beginning, seasoned seamen and meteorologists alike were not impressed by Joaquin. As a weather condition, nearly everyone underestimated the storm’s growing power and unpredictability. This languid misjudgment proved to be deadly. Additionally, there were the missed chances to take the El Faro out of commission. The Coast Guard had put it on its target list for 2016 for vessels deemed dangerous and a risk to marine safety. Even more devastating was the fact the El Faro crew tried numerous times to tell the captain they were in a risky situation. Finally, the last known communication with land didn’t sound dire enough. No one had a clue the ship was that close to the deadly eye of Joaquin.