It was September 2004. It was supposed to be our vacation.
My parents, my maternal grandmother and I flew down to Orlando on September 20th from Indianapolis to check on the damage done to our mobile home from Hurricane Charley.
Jeanne was out to sea. She was not going to hit land, meteorologists said earlier in the week. “Jeanne won’t affect the United States”, one said.
A couple of days later, she made a sudden left turn and headed straight for FLORIDA!
Meteorologists told residents to brace for yet another hurricane. People were putting up plywood and using tarps in an attempt to protect themselves.
Local government officials were giving frequent press conferences urging residents to evacuate. Shelters were being set up and the Red Cross was getting prepared.
My family and I sat watching the coverage, trying to decide what to do.
We had decided to change our plane ticket but, we were a little too late as the airport just got it’s orders to close. We called the rental car agency to see how much it would cost to drive our rental back to Indiana but it was going to be too costly.
So it was official. We were all going to experience our very first hurricane!
On September 25th, a member of the Orlando Police and Fire Department drove around the mobile home park -a retirement community- with a bullhorn announcing we had by 6 PM to evacuate.
A cousin of ours -who also lived in the park – invited us to join him at his son’s house. Jeanne hit the Orlando area between 3 and 4 AM the next morning.
She was a Category 3 with winds between 80-95 miles per hour with a gust of 70 and left several inches of rain. The media coverage was very professional and calm. I admired their courage to go out and report. Very brave souls!
One got tossed several inches live on the air but fortunately wasn’t hurt. As for me and my family, we were all basically calm. I sat on the living room sofa reading “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” with an amazing view of the storm through the picture window.
I really can’t put it into words what I saw: just the work that I saw God due was just simply incredible!
The city curfew lifted the next day and we returned back to our home.
The level of destruction in the park left us all in a state of amazement.
Parts of or whole roofs were gone. Front and back porches were gone.
Carports, awnings, trimmings and siding were gone.
The canal, lake and swimming pool were overflowing.
A tree with a birdhouse near the lake was leaning sideways.
The shuffleboard court had puddles of water.
Trees were snapped and leaning or were completely gone.
Very few homes sustained little to no damage. Luckily, our home was one of them.
Now I’m not going to get all “I-saw-my-life-flash-before-me” on you because I’m not the dramatic type. Going through a hurricane was very exciting but it was not a life-changing experience…
It was one very memorable vacation!
Have you been through a traumatic event such as a Hurricane or maybe even a Tornado? Tell me your story below and let’s chat!