1964; Winter 2018

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Barbara Maly Fish

More than 20 of our classmates live in Florida, and Hurricane Irma affected them in various ways. In Fort Myers, Barb Wallwork Reynolds and husband Bill, along with their dogs, evacuated to their daughter’s home in Cape Coral. Barb and Bill were there for eight days, using a generator until power returned to their own home. When they returned home, they found downed tree branches and missing pool cage screen panels. Dawn Rieser was without power for one week in Ocala but had no property damage. At daughter Lori’s insistence, Betsy Beachley Winger evacuated Leesburg to Pennsylvania to get away from Irma. Lori had to stay in Winter Garden because she was required to be on the job at Disney World. Betsy stayed in Pennsylvania and learned that there was thigh high water in her cul-de-sac, with water rising within six feet of her back door, plus a six-day power outage, but no real damage to her house. Gail Casady Macneill and her husband have enjoyed their active retirement in Ponte Vedra Beach. Their home was not affected, but nearby oceanfront properties and the beaches were.  Because they live on a barrier island, the Macneills had a mandatory evacuation, but this has happened only twice in about 15 years and Gail says their lifestyle is worth it. In Arcadia, Cathy Bowman Parrella lost most of the roof off her workshop and barn, but her house sustained no damage. Pam Wallace Johnson says Irma was kind to Naples. From their other home in Massachusetts, Pam and her husband watched on CNN how the eye of the storm went over their downtown neighborhood, but the predicted 14-foot storm surge did not happen. When they returned to Naples in late October, they found broken palm trees and missing pool cage screens. Joanne Hicks Urgese had minor branch and debris damage in Palm Coast and considered herself very fortunate. In 50 years of hurricanes, Irma was only the second time that Anne Goodwin Draper had to board up their barn house in Chattahoochee. Fourteen people, including three generations, six pets, and four college girls, planned to seek refuge with the Drapers during the storm, but stayed home when Irma changed her course. Anne, who says she loves a party, had everything ready: rooms, beds, kennels, litter boxes, food and booze. She missed all the company when no one came. Larry and JoAnn Winer Sutton celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by evacuating Boca Raton, but Irma spared Florida’s east coast. Both the Suttons are retired, Larry as a Delta pilot, JoAnn as an ESOL teacher. If you watched TV during Irma’s invasion, then you know that the Florida Keys were hard hit. From Key West, Janet Hayes reports: “When I arrived at Hood in 1960, we had just been through Hurricane Donna which took out Marathon and a stretch of US1 in the Upper Keys. One of the first people I met was Snow Philip, my half-sister, who was surprised that my mom and I had been able to get off the island. Snow and I bumped into each other about 35 years later, a few days after she moved to Key West. Our beloved island has lost much of our historic canopy and our flowering tropicals, much of which we will toil to nurture or replace. Snow was traveling to watch her daughter compete in an Iron Man, so she missed the angst of Force 4-5 winds over hours, followed by 10 days without electricity, five days without running water, 15 days without Internet or TV. She also missed the spirit of reaching out to help neighbors and all the behaviors which restore one’s faith.” Janet adds, “Key West will be back in toto within several months, the Lower Keys in a year or so. Marathon again took a hard hit and Big Pine, Sugarloaf, Ramrod, and Cudjoe lost hundreds of homes. Many of the affordable homes and apartments which house teachers, health personnel and service workers are on those islands, so hotels and restaurants are facing employee shortages. Snow’s home as well as mine came through with only garden destruction.” South Carolina residents Ellie Berklite Harris and Mary Jo Sottile Manning reported on Irma’s impact. Ellie and husband Alastair evacuated from their home on Kiawah Island to visit friends in Virginia. Their home sustained no damage. Earlier, their daughter’s family in Katy, TX survived Hurricane Harvey with no damage except flooding within inches of their front door. Mary Jo and Mike live on John’s Island, where the tidal surge left them with a lawn full of debris, but no yard damage that couldn’t be fixed and no damage to their house. Mary Jo says, “The big difference for many of us is that we learned from Hugo, and homes built or redone since then reflect higher standards and a heightened respect for the harmful potential.”

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