"Historic Storms"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Monday, September 18, 2017

Weather forecasters must be ready to collapse.

They have spent the past month reporting on hurricanes every day. Harvey was named a tropical storm on Aug. 17 and became a hurricane on Aug. 24. The devastation of Irma, as we are all aware, is still very much in the news. Those dedicated reporters, including the ones actually physically out in the teeth of the storm, are to be admired. They knew how anxious we all were to learn how to get out of the storm's path and later to learn how our loved ones scattered in many storm strewn areas were managing.

Harvey was less predictable than Irma as it changed direction, quickly gained strength and actually made landfall three times with devastating, record making flooding. Homes, cars, and all manner of property were washed away along with hopes and dreams. The storm produced such widespread destruction that any and all assistance was needed as soon as possible to save lives. Volunteers from around the country rushed to help, often sidetracked by the flooding, but always pushing through to give aid.

Hurricane Irma began as a tropical storm on Aug. 30, as everyone was still reeling from Harvey's damage. It grew to a Category 2 in 24 hours and, very soon after, it was a Category 3. On Sept. 5, the storm was declared a Category 5, with winds of 185 miles per hour, as it ravaged the Caribbean Islands. Its intensity lessened passing over Cuba, but its path did not shift as it passed over the warm water headed for the Florida Keys. It was once again declared a Category 4 as it slammed into Cudjoe Key, just north of Key West, with winds of 130 miles per hour. It continued on a westerly path and made landfall again on Florida's west coast at Marco Island.

As the governing bodies, from the president, governors, and lesser leaders followed the forecaster's announcements, they quickly began urging residents to evacuate. Whether to evacuate became a difficult decision by many, as they did not know where to go. Some fled the east coast and headed west only to be met by the storm's fury once more. Those on the highways were soon unable to obtain fuel and survival supplies became scarce.

As scenes of the devastation in the Keys began to be shown, it became very difficult to witness places I was so familiar with being totally destroyed. My little home was also in peril and reports were unable to be accurately relayed because all power was lost. As I file my column on Sept. 13, 10 days after Irma first struck the Florida Keys, I still don't know how my small community was affected. I am very grateful however that loss of life has been minimal – as Governor Scott said, homes can and will be re-built.

As I see it, we need to depend upon one another in this great time of need so I hope all those who are able to have donated. The Telethon broadcast on Sept. 12, which included numerous kind hearted celebrities, raised $14 million during the hourlong show. I'm certain additional funds poured in afterwards because they stayed on the phone and twitter lines.

As I see it: These were historic storms.

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