Sunday, August 28, 2005

Ripple Effect of Hurricane Katrina

Last year, Florida took a beating from four named tropical storms; three of which I needed to be concerned with. I stocked my safe room (my bathroom) and hunkered down accordingly. Having come out unscathed and now living in Florida's panhandle, I thought I was out of harm's way when it comes to hurricanes. Not so.

Peter called today to give me a brief update on the status of Flamingo Lodge in Everglades National Park - a place that has been part of my life for at least 10 years. And for anyone who has ever visited the Everglades will know, it's a place and an attitude that sticks with you.

What Peter reported was not good news. The Park Service didn't have them evacuate (which is strange, since I went through MANY evacuations while living there, including four in one year) since the storm developed quickly and was projected to cut directly west across the state. The staff stayed in their rooms and trailers and as the sound of the freight train came in and the wind intensified, many evacuated from their trailers. Good thing because when the sun rose, the day revealed that most of those trailers, RVs and employees' cars were gone, along with the employee pub - washed away into Florida Bay.

He said that the resort lost five out of six houseboats, the marina docks are torn up, the store is in disarray. The Lodge rooms are flooded as well as the cottages. Garbage dumpsters that were behind the restaurant were carried by the six foot storm surge about 1/2 mile across the street and now sit in the Coastal Prairie. Garbage cans and grills from the campground that sits on Florida Bay have been swept about 1,000 yards by the waves. Amazingly, the windows did not blow in, which probably saved many of the employees and their belongings.

He said it will be months before the resort is open again. The staff can return once electric and potable water has been restored. The staff are all fine, physically. Mentally, one can only imagine what they've gone through considering their lives swept away in a matter of minutes.

It makes me sad to think of this destruction. Because although I didn't necessarily have the best of times while living there, but many good memories that sit with me.

Peter will send me some photos later in the week, I'll try to post some when I return. I leave tomorrow for the first hurricane preparedness seminar the office is sponsoring...

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