tropical storm francis blows through the tampa bay region

hurricane frances sat image one


hurricane Frances satellite image

Tuesday, Sept 14: Susan (Harward) Barwell's Frances experience:

It's the disorientation — that's affected me most. Conscious sleep walking through the day. Effects that have totally surprised me. Hey — hurricanes? NO problem — been through those several times when I was young. Ah—there's the key! I'm not young any more.

When Hurricane Donna arrived, we were young and a bit reckless and thought it was great excitement — biggest waves we had ever seen — had to get to the beach.

Now as an adult with responsibilities (ouch), particularly the safety of my Mother, wanted to get away from the beach as far as possible, but not too far, as of course one has to get back!

Then where to go and what to take? What exactly do I consider my "prized possessions" and how much will fit into the car. I ended up taking all the wrong things, and then worrying about that too.

The things you forget about when thinking of staying in your home are the lack of power in the aftermath which contributes to the lack of gas, food, ice, air conditioning on which we have come to rely so heavily, and phones (unless you remembered to keep an older type one lying around).

In our condo quite a few elderly ladies chose to stay here, but had to stay in their condos for over a week because they could not handle the stairs and the elevator did not work. This was my concern with Mother.

Frances was relentlessly slow — and that added to the distress level, but we were safe in Mims. On the beach, we were very fortunate to only sustain annoying damage — water damage, screens gone, and fridges emptied, but so many had so much more serious difficulties.

Many roofs are gone, the beach has moved inland a good bit, lots of trees and plants are either uprooted or turned brown from the winds, and over 60,000 people in Brevard County are still without power (as of September 14, 2004).

The further South one goes, the greater the destruction. Crews of power employees, Red Cross to feed and shelter folks, and all sorts of rescue type units from all over the U.S. are here helping, which makes us much more fortunate than Grenada at this point.

Port Canaveral is closed because its normal depth of 43 feet was 27 feet so it has to be dredged. The Canaveral Pier is still standing, but Aw Shucks — the bar restaurant at the foot of the Pier — is covered in sand, which also covers half the parking lot.

We took a trip down A1A Saturday night. A few stoplights were working but not many. The "glass bank" has now lost most of its windows so my guess is that the wonderful landmark that once housed Ramon's will probably come down. Saw the steeple in the roof of the First Baptist Church, which the Pastor says he is going to leave as a sign that God answers prayers.

Guess they needed a new roof.

Some houses had faint lights — generators, I assume; some had power, and some did not. Very bizarre patterns of power outtages. It was a very eerie feeling to drive through Patrick Air Force Base in mostly dark, as street lights were not functioning. The Officers Club was dark and its parking lot covered in sand. All the beach approaches were closed off.

We only went as far as the Eau Gallie Causeway, strange and dark with no street lights anywhere, and the damage caused by Frances was extensive and incredible. However, lots of restaurants and bars were open, doing the best they could under the circumstances.

I think of the post traumatic stress syndrome that I seem to have developed and wonder how on earth folks live through wars. We only had to deal with 5 days or so of bad weather!


Saturday, Sept. 11: Carol Bertram says she's still without electricity, supposed to be back on by this Saturday (the 18th). The Hilton, Doubletree, and Holiday Inn are all closed until further notice, hope to be open by Thanksgiving. The Beach Shack and Coconuts also suffered extensive damage. Some places had several feet of sand inside the buildings.

Friday, Sept 10: Bob Busk forwarded this update he received from Marsha (Carrier, '64) Davis:

We made it through OK. We were very lucky after seeing what all happened here. Our house has complete storm shutters so we just rode it out listening to all help break loose outside of us. The house faces east so the front took the brunt of it all. That left the pool and screening in good shape.

People across the golf course weren't so lucky. The screens are wrapped around their houses and roof tiles are off. Big trees on the course came down and we lost a little one with one palm tree listing.

We got power yesterday and what a relief. We have a gas grill and gas stove so we were able to eat but it's amazing all you want is junk food. I have talked to so many people that have put weight on during all of this. I ate a large box of Cheese Nips crackers all in one day all by myself. It was wonderful!

We took a ride the other day down the river road. Huge boats are all crashed up on the banks. Most of the docks are gone and the huge oak trees that have been their for years are down. I really feel sorry for those people.

Gray Ringo echoes Marsha's River Road assessment; overturned boats, smashed docks, downed trees.

Thursday, September 9, 2004 Talked with Susan (Harward) Barwell a short time ago, she and Richard rode out the storm in an RV up in Mims, returning home (Cocoa Beach, on Bananna River side) to some water damage but otherwise in good shape. Says signals are down all over, many still without power or phone; Melbourne's pretty much trashed — no phones, no power, but the CB pier's still standing!

Did anyone see a shot in their paper of a church steeple that punctured the parish roof? That came from Cocoa Beach First Baptist, says Susan.

And then there's this: Carnival Cruise Lines, anxious to get their ship out of port, gave those lucky enough to hear in time a 5-day Hurricane Cruise that basically puttered around at sea while Frances slobbered across the state. Cost for this memorable sea cruise? $120 a head! What a deal!

In Gainesville, Bob and Wendy Busk rode out gusts up to about 60 MPH. “There are trees down all over the place, streets flooded four to five feet deep in some places. The best shot in the paper was the brand new SUV some idiot drove into the deep water.

“I'm not looking forward to this. The golf course I play at has a couple of holes that are completely under water. I think they're gonna replace all the golf carts with Jetskis.” Or submarines, maybe?

Tuesday, September 7, 2004 Frances is falling apart over Georgia and Alabama after a week-long, drama laden buildup that resulted in the largest storm evacuation in Florida's history. Nearly 4 million people hit the highway to escape the storm, draining stations of gas on the way out and waiting in line for partial fills on the way back. Brevard was hard hit, with damage still being assessed, but the storm didn't stop there, ultimately affectling nearly the entire state from the southeast to the Panhandle during it's three day meander.

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