Key West is hurricane country! No question about it. The strange thing is that hurricanes do not occur with regularity. Fortunately. Weather is fickle and the hurricanes come and go as they please.
Some small, some big.
The threat of a hurricane lurks every season. We are warned a hurricane is on the way. Advised it is heading straight for Key West. People told to evacuate. Then the storm digresses and goes another way.
It has reached the point where locals pay little attention to warnings to evacuate. Most stay. Because they do not believe the reports. Also because they cannot afford to leave or have nowhere to go.
If the hurricane is 24 hours away and is still thought to hit, locals generally do the same thing. After protecting their homes or apartments, of course. They gather in the homes of a friend who lives on high ground. High ground is the second floor or a small area of Key West 10-12 feet above sea level.
Everyone brings food. It will only spoil if left home in the refrigerator. Electricity destined to go out. The food is all cooked before the storm arrives. Then eaten during the 1-3 days they all live together. Alcohol shared, also.
Some pick out a building that will with stand a major hurricane. Like Don’s Place. Concrete and building block. A protected party time area for the hurricane’s duration.
There have been two big hurricanes in recent years. Georges in September 1998 and Wilma in October 2005.
Georges was less than a 2 by the time it hit. Did some damage. Old Houseboat Row took a beating.
Wilma was the real monster! Started off as a 5 near the Yucatan. Hit on the Florida mainland around a 2. Key West was on the fringe.
The hurricane itself did little damage as it passed over. About a half hour later, the surge arrived. Unexpected. Damaged big time most homes and automobiles. Surge waters covered most of the island 6-7 feet. The water running suddenly through homes.
Water and humidity are a problem. Mold develops rapidly. Homes had to be gutted along the water line. Six to seven feet. Salt water soaked furniture had to be thrown out..
Forty eight hours later, the streets of Key West had mounds. 15-20 feet of plasterboard and furniture. Sitting in front of each home. A battle zone appearance wise.
Lisa’s home took a beating. Six and a half feet of water. Her car in the driveway went also.
Larry Smith tells the typical story. He and Christine were seated on their back porch saying how they were lucky to have missed it again. It being a bad storm. Suddenly, water began trickling from the house onto the porch. In minutes, six feet was gushing out.
Thus it was all over Key West.
The storm that really bothered me was not a hurricane. A mere tropical storm. Winds generally 50-70 mph. Heavy rains. Dark.
I cannot recall the name of the storm. Searched Google and telephoned several people. All remember the tropical storm. None recall the name. Maybe because it did little damage.
It sticks clearly in my mind as if it were yesterday.
My house was prepped for the storm. Plywood sheets covering every window and door. With one exception. A small door in the back leading to the deck. I needed a way to get in and out.
I did all the right things. Filled the bathtub with water to flush the toilets. Bought bottled water. Bought food that did not require heating before being eaten. Like peanut butter, crackers, dried fruits, etc. Candles and flashlights, too. The electric power always goes.
I hated the storm. It was supposed to last at most 24 hours. It lasted 5-6 days. It sat over Key West as a black cloud and did not move. I am stuck in my boarded up house all this time. Could not drive. The street in front of my home flooded.
The power went out on and off. Meant no TV, no lights. Candle time. I figured I would read. I do not know how Abraham Lincoln read law by candlelight. I could not. So I spent a lot of time laying on my bed in the dark. Contemplating my navel.
I went out on the deck a couple of times. Dark and bitter. Just as bad as being inside. Except inside was dry.
We are into the hurricane season already this year. It lasts till the end of November. Nothing yet. Nor any warnings. However, hurricanes develop quickly. You never know.
Enjoy your Sunday!