Once Bitten, Twice Shy

I’ve lived in Florida since 1970 and in Tallahassee since 1981. And during that 46 years, I experienced only one hurricane before this year.

That was Hurricane Kate, which came through Tallahassee the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 1985. Although a Category 1 hurricane has a wind speed of “only” between 74 and 95 miles, Kate whalloped the city because of all our trees.  Many pine trees either snapped or were uprooted because of their shallow roots. Those trees took out power lines and in some areas it was two weeks before power was restored.

I was in Tampa on a business trip that day and scheduled to retun on a 7 PM flight. But the Tallahassee airport shut down at 6 PM, so I spent the night in Tampa. I was able to return Wednesday morning on the first flight to Tallahassee, a small plane that held maybe 12 people.

What should have been a 15-20 minute drive home took a good hour because most of the main roads were blocked by fallen trees. The airport is at the edge of a national forest, and many trees were down. Luckily, I had planned to spend Thanksgiving with friends out of town and so I packed and left. When I arrived back four days later,power in my area has been restored just a few hours earlier.

A tree hit the roof of the house I own now (but did not own then) and break through it above where my computer room is now. Fortunately, it did not come through the ceiling as well.

So when it was announced that Hurricane Hermine’s center would come through Tallahassee just before another big holiday, folks were justifiably concerned. On Wednesday, gas stations and grocery stores were packed.

Thursday, the weather was fairly calm until the early evening and then deteriorated very quickly. Around 11 PM, most homes lost power. By 3 AM or so the hurricane had passed. I didn’t hear any trees falling.

When it was light, I was surprised to see that my property was relatively untouched. The debris was almost entirely leaves. No trees or even limbs had fallen. But when I walked my street, I found two homes that had suffered significant damage.

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This house is about three doors down from me.

Cheryl had a 50-60 foot pine tree fall onto her property but it missed the house. The pine tree belonged to the golf course and was less than 10 feet inside the golf course but 40-50 feet of the tree fell onto her property. Since it was a healthy tree, the law is that the tree fell as a result of an “act of God” and Cheryl, not the golf course, is responsible for removing the portion on her property.

But the pressing issue was no electricity. Cheryl learned that a lake cottage she has about 30 miles away had power. So we packed up to stay there until power in our areas was restored and brought the important freezer food we both had to put in her deep freezer at the cottage.

This is the view we enjoyed for three days, along with cold air conditioning and hot food. I cooked chicken adobo!.

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With power restored to both our houses on Sunday afternoon, we returned Monday afternoon.Tuesday, we performed “surgery” to rescue some of Cheryl’s rose bushes and fruit bushes / trees from being killed by portions of the pine tree that fell on her property. It was a good workout…

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The golf course tree

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The trunk and large branches will have to be done by a tree service.

A friend of mine did not have power until Wednesday morning. As of Friday evening, eight days after the hurricane, power had been restored to most of the city although there were some isolated areas still without power. But that was a huge improvement from the two weeks with Kate.

Hopefully, this is the last hurricane I will endure. When a hurricane enters the Gulf, it will normally move in a northwesterly direction towards Alabama and Louisiana. To come towards Tallahassee, there has to be some other front steering the hurricane to make a sharp turn to the north.