I have survived two hurricanes in less than a month, as have many other Floridians. We have a third one on the way, which nobody wants to talk about. This experience has traumatized most of us in one way or another. I want to share some of my feelings with my vast readership (both of you).
It has been over 10 years since Florida bore the brunt of a major hurricane—Andrew, in 1992. Andrew, although powerful, wreaked its devastation over a small area. Thus, Floridians in parts of the state that were not affected by Andrew—which means all but Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier, and Monroe Counties in the very southern tip of Florida—have not seen a major hurricane in a long, long time. Couple this with the great influx of new people to Florida and you have a collective citizenry that doesn’t understand the implications of a major hurricane.
So, as it became clear that Hurricane Charley would hit Florida, the typical reaction was complacency. This was confirmed by man on the street interviews on radio and TV. Those people just didn’t understand what they were dealing with. People like that stay at home, even if they live in a mobile home that could not possibly stay together in a minimal hurricane, let alone a Category 4 with 145 mph winds.
Alas, people who did understand the implications of a Category 4 storm bearing down on Florida learned about the inherent inaccuracy of weather forecasts. Forecasters had Charley aimed at Tampa Bay. Scads of residents of low-lying areas around Tampa headed for Orlando, an inland destination with lots of hotel rooms. Charley wound up missing Tampa; he scored a direct hit on Orlando. So much for forecasting.
One Orlando TV station’s chief meteorologist made the correct call on the day Charley hit Florida, saying that the big storm would hit Ft. Myers, considerably south of Tampa, and then cut a diagonal across the state through Orlando and Daytona Beach. The National Hurricane Center discounted his analysis. Needless to say, that TV station used its I-told-you-so for self-promotion. This Turkey feels that natural disasters should inspire teamwork and generosity, not pissing contests and commercialism.