Some Info on Hurricane Irma

Earlier this week, Cant Stop The Macedonia Signal posted an essay asking Florida members to check in after hurricane Irma. I suspect we may not hear from all right away as much of Florida experienced power outages. I am a native Floridian, having lived all but the first two years of my life in the state. I take hurricanes very seriously although my home town where I grew up, St. Pete has been spared from a major hit since 1921.

Prior to Irma, more than one in four Floridians were told to evacuate. There are many people who live in mobile homes in Florida and therefore are vulnerable to high winds. However the biggest problem is that the population is heavily clustered along the coastal areas which means dealing with storm surge. Storm surge is extremely deadly and happens quite quickly. More people die from water in hurricanes than from wind.

I am not in Florida right now, but both my husband and I have most of our family there. Below is my account based upon what I know from our family.

Although hurricane Irma came up along the west coast, there was heavy damage everywhere to the east of the eyewall, including serious storm surges in the Miami area and in Jacksonville. The strongest part of a hurricane is along the east side with the northeast quadrant inflicting the most damage from wind, storm surge and tornadoes. At one point, there were 100 tornadoes or water spouts (tornadoes over water) spotted in the Brevard County area which is on the east coast south of Daytona Beach. One tornado did touch down at Palm Bay.

Hurricane Irma made one landfall in the Keys and then a second one at Marco Island near Naples in southwest Florida where it caused heavy damage from both wind and storm surges. It was originally predicted to make landfall in the Tampa Bay area but it tracked inland to the east of Tampa and spared Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater catastrophic damage because they were on the west side of Irma.

My sister and most of her family live in St Pete or St Pete Beach. Most of them evacuated except for two nephews who were in a high rise in downtown St Pete. The rest went north to Charlotte NC. All of them are reported safe and it appears that their homes were spared major damage.

My mother lives inland in Polk County. She resides in a high rise independent living facility which has its own generators and emergency plans. The generators allow them to keep the dining room operational and the common areas lit. Polk County was on the east side of the eye and I have read that there was extensive damage there. I have not heard from my mother as she does not have a cell phone and her land line is down, but I felt that she was in a very secure location in a fortress like building, so I am not going to worry. She told me before the storm that she would call me when she is able to do so.

The rest of our family is in the Tallahassee area which ended up being on the west side of Irma, although it was originally predicted to get a direct hit. Tallahassee is a "Tree City USA" community and so with any major storm or a strong sneeze, the power goes out due to downed trees. We have talked with family and the power is out and many roads are closed due to fallen trees, but no real damage to persons or property has been reported.

Overall, my family came through Irma better than any of us could have expected. I talked with my sister today and we wondered why the Tampa Bay area seems to dodge hurricanes since the last one to hit St Pete directly was in 1921. I am not sure if it is luck or geography (perhaps something to do with the Gulf Stream?) or a combination of both.
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Comments

Arrow's picture

Gulfgal my sister and brother ended up riding out the storm in St. Pete. Fortunately the storm went well inland (and weakened) missing their area I entirely. Whew...

Edit: when=Whew darn auto-correct

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f you haven’t worked to become stringently honest with yourself, you won’t know the difference between an egoically comfortable worldview you’ve been given and an honest perception of what’s really going on. - Caitlen Johmstone

gulfgal98's picture

@Arrow The big issue with Pinellas County (St Pete and Clearwater plus the beaches) is that most of the county (with exceptions in the northern part) is at 25 foot elevation and below. Being a peninsula, Pinellas County is extremely vulnerable to storm surge both from the Gulf and the Bay. Once again Pinellas County and St. Pete got very lucky.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~CantStoptheMacedonianSignal

mhagle's picture

They are not on the coast and only had a tree fall down in the driveway. They were well prepared with a generator, phone chargers, and extra propane tanks. They were helping out those around them. My niece is near Jacksonville and they are OK.

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Marilyn

Let's save the planet for our kids. Tree Hugger to the end.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

We didn't even lose power, though around 60,000 Gainesvillians did (it was down to around 42K quickly; hooray for the repairmen!)

My mom and her husband have no power, but we all have water. A big tree came down in the swamp behind their house, but most of it stayed in the swamp. Just the top is in the bottom of her yard.

Mostly last night I was worried about my childhood home, which, like gulfgal's, is in the Tampa/St Pete area (I was born in Tampa and lived there till I was three. From six to twelve I lived on the beaches near St. Pete--Treasure Island, Sunset Beach, Madeira Beach).

I got really scared when I saw how much of Tampa Bay had been sucked out to sea. But apparently folks down there dodged a bullet. Thank goodness!

So, this is me checking in. All well here.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

gulfgal98's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal For those who do not know the Tampa Bay area, it is truly miraculous how St. Pete dodged this thing once again. It is amazing, considering how vulnerable that area is.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~CantStoptheMacedonianSignal

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

So, this is me checking in. All well here.

Thank Cat!!

And thank you for letting us know you're OK!

Give rose

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"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@thanatokephaloides Sure thing! Smile

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

She's in Jacksonville. I was initially nervous because she was staying right next to the St. John's River, and storm surge can easily push up a big river like that. The Jacksonville bridges are under water, mostly, and she's out of power where she is, but they're all fine.

I hope soon we hear from cybrestrike, lunachickie, and all the other Floridians on here, especially Alphalop, who lives in South Florida.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

gulfgal98's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal for reminding us of our other C99'ers. Alphalop concerns me greatly. I believe he is in southwest Florida which got hit really hard. I hope he and his family weathered the storm safely. I think Cybrestrike should be okay as he is in Orlando and he wrote about his preparations. I am not sure where Luna lives, but I hope she is okay too.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~CantStoptheMacedonianSignal

dkmich's picture

your homes are still sound. I was shopping for a condo in Florida. Watching the hassle before and after, think I'll pass.

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*donate *follow us on Twitter *like us on Facebook *dump Google

I think he lives in the Fort Myers area.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@JtC Not yet.

Thing is, even if he's fine, he probably won't have power to check in for a while.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

CS in AZ's picture

I've been anxiously checking back for news and updates and thinking about all of you in the storm's path. Hopefully we will hear from more of our Florida members soon. My friends in Miami still can't get home, they are in a hotel and doing ok, waiting to see if/how their home in Miami Beach held up.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

Stayed at the mother-in-law's house over the weekend because she had a generator and she's still a helicopter parent. Makes sense I suppose. My wife and I do have disabilities that make evacuation difficult.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Aspie Corner Oh, damn. I knew I'd forgotten somebody.

Sorry, AC. I'm really glad you're OK.

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14 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

The Aspie Corner's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal I think the only casualty was my old desktop speakers. They crapped out the moment I went to plug stuff in again. Ah well. They lasted a good 12 years so I can't complain.

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as I have friends who moved to Ocala earlier this year (and another friend who lives just north of Houston). I found several good weather sites:

weatherunderground.com

has a lot of cool info and a forum where people shared knowledge/what was going on where they were, it was getting dozens of posts a minute with updates. There's also a lot of forecast info/updates by the meteorologists who run the site.

If Irma had stayed 10-15 miles more north of Cuba over the water and then moved 10-20 miles west we'd probably have seen a Cat 5 storm run the entire west coast of FL, instead of a just barely Cat 4 that then went over land and started to lose some energy. But Irma was huge, displays today showed her clouds stretching from the south tip of Florida to the Great Lakes.

https://earth.nullschool.net/

gives you a global view of air currents in real time.

https://www.ventusky.com/

gives similar data but lets you choose among different types of data -- pressure, wind, temp, etc.

So in the future if you or your friends are under a weather threat you may be able to use those sites (and there seem to be plenty of others too) to stay abreast of the conditions.

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@MichaelSF was a goto when I had a real 'puter. Was pretty detailed with temps air/ocean, currents, winds at various altitudes, chemical and particulates. You just had to dig into the settings cog to find it.
It won't even load on my kindle.

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There is no such thing as TMI. It can always be held in reserve for extortion.

cybrestrike's picture

My roommate and I had friends over during Irma. By the time the storm hit Orlando, it had weakened quite a bit, but it still did a lot of wind and water damage. The house is structurally fine but we're going to have to look at the roof later to be sure.

The house didn't lose power but we experienced several momentary brownouts. Neighbor's tree fell and knocked out part of the fence in the backyard. Huge branch fell on the driveway...we knew that tree was bad news and moved all the vehicles away from it before things started.

In the middle of the night my friend and I hung out on the porch listening to house music, drinking beer, and catching up. Every now and then we could see transformers blowing in the distance. Purple flashes...lots of them.

We also spent a lot of time watching the Weather Channel and local news for info.

All of us turned in at various points overnight. I think I fell asleep at 3am, and the last of us fell out at 5am.

Figuring out what happened to loved ones and finding food were the priorities today. My parents are okay, but they don't have power. The street leading to my aunt's place is blocked by a large fallen tree and the power lines that it took with it. The streets were full of debris from trees. Lots of downed branches. Even saw a tree that had fallen on a car. Yeah, that thing was totalled.

We got lucky and found an Italian joint that was open. There was an hour and a half wait for orders, but it was worth it. Cash in hand only. Very few gas stations were open. No fast food spots were open. Mostly family-owned food spots, but the lines for them were insane.

Cell service is very spotty. There were some spots where there no signal, like in a large part of Casselberry. The internet is still intermittent but it's there at least. It has gotten better as the day went on.

We were extremely lucky to not lose electricity. Most of my mates are without lights...some still at the time of this writing. Some of my friends who live on the coasts skipped town and are having trouble getting back.

If Irma would have been a Category 3 or higher by the time it hit Orlando, we'd be in for a world of hurt.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@cybrestrike I was afraid it'd be a Cat 3 when it got here, still a low Cat 4 when it got to you. But that was probably excessively negative. Florida being as long as it is means that anything that makes landfall at the southern tip will have a lot of land to cover before it reaches either of us.

My nightmare scenario was a Cat 5 ploughing up the west coast and then making landfall for the first time around the Big Bend, then cutting across to the East. But I didn't think the eastward turn was too likely. Still, I'm deeply grateful it downgraded before it got to us.

Cuba took it on the chin for us. I'd like to do something to support them, but feel conflicted because there's going to be a lot of Floridians in need.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

lunachickie's picture

Hi! We made it through the madness! We're up off the beaten path between Hastings and Palatka FL and thankfully far enough from the St. John's River that we had no temporary riverfront property. We were starting to wonder Sunday night, because we're not far from a little tributary off the river, and it was getting a little lake-like in the backyard there for a while. Upstream, St. Augustine and all the way to Jacksonville, the St. Johns was madly flooding, so overall, we were very, very lucky, compared to those closer to the coast. We have some trees down, couple of shingles gone, power finally just came on a little while ago and we're "out here", so we were shocked to have only been out about a day (we were figuring a week this time, the way everybody was talking...) Glad to have survived. We were so fortunate, compared to friends east of Orlando, who had it a lot worse than we did, by the time all was said and done--and down in South Daytona (where we used to live, which is really low in spots)--some friends woke up to the Halifax River in their kitchen.

Having three cats during a hurricane was an adventure. They're still irritated, but happier now that the big, ugly generator is off! But you know, if that's the worst thing I can say, I know we are truly blessed. If we weren't sure before, we were after a neighbor stopped by to check up on us--she grew up in Islamorada, in the Florida Keys, and she is heartbroken, because her hometown took a direct hit at Cat 4. Key West was spared to an extent, since it was on the west side of the eye--which came ashore at Cudjoe Key, which is maybe 20-25 miles to the north, and a little south of Marathon (the "halfway" point). Marathon, along with some of the mid- and upper-Keys. got pounded really bad--authorities are still assessing and no residents are getting in yet. I can't even imagine...I've driven US 1 from Miami to Key West, and the idea of anybody having stayed out there during a storm like Irma gives me chills....

Thanks for being here to check in with! I hope everybody else checks in okay. It was a noisy night and you always fear the worst--this time, we didn't have to live it. There's always going to be a "next time", which is the price we pay for living in "paradise" I still wouldn't trade it for anything else, I never want to be in another blizzard as long as I live. The only thing worse than losing electricity is losing electricity when it's below freezing outside--and I never want to live through an earthquake. You get notice with hurricanes....earthquakes, not so much....

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Lily O Lady's picture

@lunachickie

Key Lime Sailing Club. The owner stayed on through the storm and posted photos on Fbook when the water was sucked out by Irma and then after the storm. His place is on the Gulf side and his buildings are still standing as is his tiki hut.

My husband and I stayed there a couple of years ago. We found out why the off season is the off season. A day and a half into our stay, a cold front came down and put an end to sailing, swimming and pretty much anything else due to strong winds.

We were worrying about the Keys, but one thing you don't hear about is the large coral reefs off Florida which were probably already suffering due to high water temps. Hurricanes can scour the bottom, damaging the reefs even more. I'm going to google coral reefs in Florida and see if there's anything about the reefs. The Keys are built on ancient reefs which makes them much stronger against storms than barrier islands made of sand.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Lily O Lady I grew up on a barrier island made of sand. Thankfully, those islands were not hit by a Cat 4 or Cat 5 storm.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Lily O Lady's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

by the backwash. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse had to be moved due to the shifting shoreline a few years back. I'm glad yours stayed put!

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Lily O Lady That's how John's Pass came about!

Two of the Gulf Coast’s early “pioneers” that took advantage of this act were our “opportunistic” heroes Joseph Silva and John Levique. Levique settled along the mainland coast of Upper Boca Ciega Bay near the area now known as St. Petersburg’s “jungle district”, while Silva’s acreage was farther north, around present-day 38th Avenue. It is unlikely that either man had any intention of anything more than “subsistence” farming (if that), and both men were more likely to fish with the Seminoles than fight with them. Levach and Silva would probably remain only curious names on early plat maps, had it not been for one ill-timed fishing expedition.

Late in the summer of 1848, Levique and Silva sailed to New Orleans to sell a cargo of Green Turtle. Sailing home after bacchanal celebration in the Big Easy, they encountered a horrific storm, and decided to wait it out in a “hurricane hole” in some sheltered area along the coast. The hurricane had knocked down trees, rearranging the shoreline, and obliterated former landmarks.

[Next morning,] John Levique searched for an entrance into Boca Ciega Bay. He was probably looking for Blind Pass, or even Pass-a-Grille, but instead he found a more northerly opening where there had not been one previously. Levach awakened a bleary-eyed Silva, and together they navigated through the new pass on the morning of September 27, 1848. Since that time, so the legend goes, the inlet between Treasure Island and Madeira Beach has been called “John’s Pass” in honor of its discovery, and maiden passage by John Levique.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@lunachickie I really hate earthquakes. Lived through a couple in MD (probably from some stupid fracking injection well somewhere). Never got used to it.

Also, I'd rather deal with storms than wildfires. My heart goes out to all those in OR.

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3 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@lunachickie I'm glad you made it through, luna.

Now I think the only person we haven't heard from is Alphalop. Not sure, though.

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1 user has voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal Nope, I just checked my list; we still haven't heard from orlbucsfan or crbngville.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Lily O Lady's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

lunachickie's picture

@Lily O Lady indeed, we know of quite a few folks still dealing with power outages, even some businesses are yet to open...

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Lily O Lady's picture

@lunachickie

outages due to fallen trees. Streets are slowly being cleared and some schools are still closed. It has to be so much worse to the south of us, especially near the coasts.

Our community was probably luckier than most since the planners had most utility lines buried, except in areas where lines already existed on the perimeters. Such a measure might be wise in light of increasing global weird-ing.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Thanks for taking the trouble to let us know what is going on. I really appreciate it. The on-the-ground observations from each of you also help to fill in the story for this landlocked Texan. The TV falls short on that count which may be my own fault because I can't stand to watch much of it.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@randtntx My admittedly non-scientific reaction to the media through this is that they are remarkably worse than usual. More sensationalism, more thrill-ride fearmongering, more "human interest" stories when what I want is facts, a frightening dearth of a lot of actual information I would have expected to get once upon a time, for which I'm now relying on first- or second-hand stories from people I know.

My partner says it's because they didn't warn people sufficiently about Harvey, and now they're making up for it.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal that you, who were in the path of such a big storm, feels that way about the reporting. We need good, reliable reporting. It is not something that is difficult.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@randtntx Well, you could always go to NOAA, the government website. That's where my peeps were getting the info.

The corporate media were accurate about the most important thing: when the storm would get to wherever the viewer is. Or, as accurate as a human could be, I mean. Which means 48-72 hours before, you start to get a more solid sense of where the storm will go.

But the first five-six days of frantic reporting amounted to buttkiss. They can't know five days out. They kept saying that they didn't know, but they also kept reporting non-stop about whichever path they thought was likely at that moment. In tones of impending disaster. For at least five days before the storm. And they kept changing, naturally, every time a computer model said "No, it's going this other direction!" and then frantically reporting about that path, then changing again, and again....

While I appreciate they might want to make sure nobody is unprepared, and while I appreciate that that type of reporting is guaranteed to sell the most goods at market (and get the most eyeballs on the television), it's hell on the people jerked around emotionally. And it's not accurate, cause it can't be, a week in advance.

Also, I had a difficult time getting any specific information about Cuba. There was one story that got circulated over and over, which told me 1)the waves had come over Havana's sea wall at one point, 2)a man was in great fear, 3)one woman's childhood neighborhood was destroyed. I also found out one cool fact: prior to the storm hitting Cuba, Cuba sent 100 doctors to the other Caribbean islands that had already been hit. But none of that gave me a sense of the scope of the damage, which they were quick enough to give me about Barbuda (maybe that's because it's smaller?) Everywhere I looked for info on Cuba, I found either the same story, or excerpts from it. And then the same thing happened about Tampa/St Pete--I wanted information about how bad it was going down there, and all I could find was one story with a picture of people standing in Tampa Bay because the water had been drained out to sea (which terrified me).

Perhaps this is because I get my news from the Net and don't watch television news? Maybe if I had glued myself to the set and watched for a day straight I'd know more? That doesn't usually happen, but maybe in this case the Net was lagging behind the old dinosaurs.

Or maybe I wasn't looking in the right places. But weather underground is usually good, and it didn't impress me this time.

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The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

along with my sisters ex-husband rode it out in a hotel room in Tampa, they live in Cape Coral. 4 dogs and 2 cats along with them. My ex brother in law's wife is a nurse so she was working in the hospital and did OK. They were either on their way or had arrived when I heard from my nephew last night, he said not much damage to his dad's house, not yet sure about my sister's apartment.

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