These are the three worst weather events directly impacting my life.
#3. 2005 Hurricane Triple Header – Florida received a 1-2-3 punch combo in the Summer and Fall 2005 hurricane season. Homestead received one of its highest precipitation totals ever recorded and most of Dade and Broward counties were out of power for extended periods while much of Homestead’s power outages lasted weeks. Katrina, Rita and then Wilma had South Florida residents putting up shutters, taking them down, and repeating two more times. Just about everywhere you went standing water blocked vehicle progress and flooded homes.
#2. The Winter Storm January 1996 – I was returning to Lee University in Cleveland following Christmas break with Andrew Hoomook when an ice storm hit the east. From Atlanta north into TN, roads were closed for three days. We ended up grabbing a room for two nights in Cold-lanta to try and wait out some of the nastiness. At one point for several miles, we were slowed to almost idle speed to keep from sliding off the ice covered roads. The conditions occurred because a layer of rain froze on the road was followed by freezing rain falling on top. I saw numerous cars blown off the road by wind, people losing control and being stranded in ditches, and semi tractor trailers barrelling down the road at speeds well above the rest of traffic. It was frightening to say the least.
#1. Hurricane Andrew, 1992 – Thank the Lord I did not directly experience the wind of Hurricane Andrew. That weekend, my mom and I were in Cleveland, TN helping Travis get moved into his dorm for his freshman year at Lee University and my dad evacuated with Ron Cable (one of the HCOG church members who was working at Turkey Point with Bechtel, down temporarily from Fresno, CA). They evacuated west to Punta Gorda, FL and then traveled east to Central FL on the east coast, and followed the tailed end of the hurricane as it exited the state across Naples and into the Gulf. I stayed up all night Sunday evening at my cousins’ home in Atlanta watching the weather channel as the radar image showed that destructive storm land in Homestead while the weather people were stating that it was heading for Titusville, then Palm Beach County, and the Miami. I kept thinking they must be blind since I could clearly see that it made a direct hit south of Miami, and had been on a straight line for Homestead since it went across the Bahamas. When we made our entrance to Homestead with our family friend David Barron (he was there to help us dry in the house and salvage anything from the mess that we possibly could), it took us a couple hours just to make it the 30 or so miles from near the airport in Miami south into Homestead itself via Florida’s Turnpike. The best way to describe the damage in Homestead was ground zero of a massive bomb. The few trees that were not toppled were completely stripped of leaves, every home in our neighborhood was practically destroyed, cars were destroyed, all mobile home/pre fab homes were flattened and debris strewn everywhere, many roads completely impassable by car, boats were found miles inland, and even the grass was destroyed by driving wind and salt water tidal surge (in areas). We slept on a picnic bench outside the house for a couple nights since the house was covered with fiberglass insulation and rain water. The contents of Travis’ room was sucked out when his shutters failed, and my room was soaked from rain which fell through the destroyed roof. We were without power for 4 months, though we did have generated power for some lighting and refrigeration a few weeks into our recovery. It really was a tough but learning time for me, though I know I had it good compared to so many other people. At a later time, I can go into more details of the events, experiences, sad and funny things I saw and did during that defining time in the life of my family. I am sure my dad also has many stories to share that you may find fascinating.