Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Surfers Remember Hurricane Dora

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Surfers Remember Hurricane Dora

Article excerpt

Recent reporting about hurricane season in the Florida Times-Union's Insight section included pictures from Hurricane Dora in 1964.

Ironically, the site in one picture was of damage on First Street in Jacksonville Beach and it looks almost exactly the same today, minus the bent tin roofing.

The area shown between Third Avenue North and Fourth Avenue North looks the same now as it did 35 years ago, but the low wall was recently removed for some parking spaces. A few yards south, the newly redone buildings stand in contrast to the aging tavern shown. Our past is still quite visible.

The dramatic damage in the main picture showed the gaping hole in the old seawall in Atlantic Beach at the site of the old pier (now a mere remnant of its former self) and hotel. Condominiums there now were once the Bikini Apartments. The two easternmost units were eaten by Dora.

Dora followed in the wake of a previous winter season filled with northeasters that weakened and breached old seawalls throughout the area. Many of us had learned to fill sand bags and sacrifice them to the storm gods.

About a week before Dora, Hurricane Cleo was heading our way. She stalled and began to dissipate well south of the area. Northeast winds piled up a huge swell by that Sunday afternoon, and about 2 p.m., we surfers decided to paddle out. As if in a movie script, we made it through the surf with surprising ease and the winds began to die out and switch to offshore.

The ocean went from raging cauldron to benevolent benefactor. Clean double overhead waves kept us off the streets and out of trouble until well after dark. I went home elated and exhausted, ate something and fell into a blissful sleep.

The next day, the surf was merely excellent with overhead conditions. We were so spoiled from the past evening's pleasures, that we complained to each other. …

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