Sunday, September 19, 2004

Hurricane Updates

Here, where I live in Central Florida, we scarcely felt a breeze as Hurricane Ivan churned through the gulf. Everyone around here held their breath as they waited for Ivan to go by -- afraid he'd make a sudden right turn and clobber Central Florida. Not that we wished anything on the Gulf Coast, it was just that we've been suffering post-traumatic stress.

See, we're not supposed to be clobbered by hurricanes. We're the favored children of Florida. The 'canes that approach the peninsula from the Atlantic usually either come ashore down south of us, or go north and smack Georgia or South Carolina. The ones that go into the Gulf usually hit the northern or western part of the gulf. Even the ones that turn and hit Tampa don't come through with anything like Charley's force.

Having two major storms (Hurricanes Charley and Frances) crisscross our territory in less than a month's time is unheard of, even by the old-timers.

Then came Ivan, with an uncertain forecast. Several models showed him curving in as he moved north through the Gulf of Mexico and clobbering us, a third storm to do so in a month's time.

Dear hearts, it was too much for many to bear.

As I said, we didn't want to wish Ivan off on anyone else -- we just wanted him to go away. Disappear. But he refused the invitation. The people in Alabama and northwestern Florida have my prayers and sincere sympathy, as do all the people who were in Ivan's path as he marched northward, carrying death and his bag of tricks -- floods, twisters and more misery.

The devastation Frances left is still evident in my neighborhood. It looks like a twister went through -- you can trace a path of destruction across an intersecting road then down the main thoroughfare, chewing up trees, electric poles and power lines. Maybe that's what woke me at 2 a.m. as the hurricane came through, a twister beating on my windows and tossing a neighbor's tree through my privacy fence as it brushed by.

It was a massacre of trees as Frances came through, much worse than Charley. Frances took her time wreaking havoc. Towering old oaks with trunks six feet wide were torn to bits. Out-of-state contractors are swarming all over the county like ants, throwing sawed-up tree trunks and branches into their plywood-sided trailers.

The miracle is, there was no loss of life around here.

Now I'm watching Tropical Storm Jeanne out in the Atlantic. She's craftily circling, like a shark, trying to build her strength back up to hurricane force. The computer models are all over the place, so who knows what direction she'll end up taking.

I'm praying she'll just stay out in the Atlantic and fizzle away.

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