Many Stay, Even under `Mandatory Evacuation'

By Oehser, John | The Florida Times Union, July 4, 1998 | Go to article overview

Many Stay, Even under `Mandatory Evacuation'


Oehser, John, The Florida Times Union


ORMOND BEACH -- Andy Griggers stood on his back porch late

Thursday afternoon, ashes landing soft in his hair, flames just

beyond a fence to the rear.

He was accustomed to the ashes. It was the flames that worried

him.

"When it reaches that fence, that's it. I'm leaving," Griggers

said.

Officials fighting wildfires in Volusia County believed he

should have done so already. Police and fire officials had told

Griggers and other residents of Rima Ridge -- a community on the

outskirts of Ormond Beach -- to leave that afternoon. "Mandatory

evacuation," it was called.

The evacuation lasted through yesterday morning, and it was at

least the fifth such order Rima Ridge residents had received

since fires surrounded the area 10 days before.

"We've been playing a chess game since a week ago Saturday,"

Richard Van Brocken, Griggers' next door neighbor, said. "We've

been told to get out four or five times now.

"You've got to decide whether to trust their judgment or trust

yours."

Many Rima Ridge residents said they've been through enough in

recent days, and know their neighborhood well enough, that they

know better than officials when they should leave.

"Besides, these are our homes," Griggers said.

So, many have stayed -- even under "mandatory evacuation."

Van Brocken and Griggers spoke across a fence Thursday, raising

their voices over the crackling of flames.

The fire on Griggers' side of the street was but one concern.

Across the street, firefighter Ray Cordona and his wife, Peggy

-- who moved to Ormond Beach after their Miami house was

destroyed by Hurricane Andrew -- helped snuff flames in a brushy

forest, 20 yards from their house.

"This is the worst it's been, though," Van Brocken said.

Van Brocken and Griggers stood, watching. Whatever work was to

be done was done.

"There's a feeling of inevitability now," Van Brocken said.

"You can't fight this thing with a garden hose."

Sprinklers were installed on and soaking each roof. A sprinkler

soaked a clearing near Van Brocken's rear fence. Griggers'

sprinklers didn't reach as far, so the previous weekend, he'd

cleared a 10-foot area behind his fence.

"I cleared 155 feet, 10 feet wide," he said. "Just for the hell

of it -- to at least feel like I was doing something."

Griggers, who moved to Ormond Beach from Georgia in 1985 and

into Rima Ridge in 1995, walked toward the brush. He said

although he knew the government and firefighters were doing what

they could, he wished they could do more. …

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