Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Experience Shows to Beware of the Power of a Hurricane

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Experience Shows to Beware of the Power of a Hurricane

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Longenecker

This column began, in essence, in September 1989. Hurricane Hugo had ravaged South Carolina. Even Charlotte, N.C., got hit by it. The morning after, Hugo's power stunned me. Its surf had been spectacular for us, but deadly for the Carolinas.

In September 1964, my family sat through Dora's power in the same house where this column is being drafted. After Hugo attacked a large restaurant on pilings on a Carolina beach, the strength of a Category 5 storm became quite real to me. On the day after, there were two pictures of the same spot.

The "day before" picture showed a large building on pilings. For the "day after" shot, not even a piling was left. That day, I knew that if an evacuation was ordered, it would be heeded. That call came in 1999 as Floyd moved along the east coast of Florida.

After boarding up this house for the first time in my family history, I left for the Methodist Medical Center, my part-time employer, and was sent to work in its emergency department.

Just a year ago, plywood covered the windows again as storms posed a danger. For Jeanne, it would be a day in the ER at Shands Jacksonville and a night in a bed in the former Methodist Medical Center. We were just plain lucky with Hugo, Floyd and Jeanne.

As this is being drafted, there are four choices for the day. Work on this column, go back out into the 3- to 6-foot surf left by Ophelia and northeaster winds, mow the yard or remove my new hurricane window fabric shield protection. The column won, but I'll paddle out in about 45 minutes. I have to be at work at noon.

After Floyd, it took about four months before the wood came down off the windows. About a month went by before Jeanne's plywood came down, so a few days with eight windows "under wraps" are no big deal.

My new panels are still up. This protection system came about because I am just too old to be hauling plywood up a shaky ladder in 15 to 20 mph winds. It was even more difficult to take it off. In June, I wrote about my experience with the first contractor, who said he could not promise me anything before January 2006. …

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