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Sunday, September 5, 2004

From the Eye of Hurricane Frances

I woke up this morning, to a slew of emails from a good friend of mine who has just moved to Florida. As we know, Hurricane Frances is happening... now! It will be my friend's first experience with such a powerful force of nature and I hope that she comes out of it alright. This is her story...

FROM THE EYE OF HURRICANE FRANCES

Intro & Tuesday (Aug 31, 2004)

Hi! My husband and I are living in Jupiter, Florida, which is in Northern Palm Beach County. We live in a house in a neighborhood that faces the ocean. Most of the time, this is fantastic - warm ocean wave, a great beach, a pier nearby - in the backyard is a pool for those too lazy to go to what some people here call “the big pool”. To see where we live, click here.

Anyhow, all was well until Tuesday (Aug 31). I stepped out the front door and discovered that the fish in our front pond were all dead. Dead. These fish were there to bring good luck and prosperity to the house, as our landlady does feng shui and keeping goldfish is a good omen. Needless to say, to find them dead is a bad omen. To go from that to the morning news, where the weather guy is talking about a hurricane forming, is an even worse omen. Hurricane Frances had been forming for a few days in the Atlantic, but was actually strengthening and heading our way. I took this as a sign that we should quickly get some replacement fish.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, all was pretty much normal. People worked. The TV weather reports were standard. I worried about the landlady’s dead fish. At this point, the weather people were happy to say things like, “Sure, it looks like the hurricane path is heading straight here, but there’s lots of time for it to veer off - north, south, hey - even head back out the Atlantic! Really!!” I can’t say that I was all that convinced.

I called my husband who booked one of the last available rooms at the DoubleTree Hotel that was about 15 miles inland from our house. I called a few other people as well, partially to let them know what was heading this way, and partially to get a sense of how other people were responding to it all. Many people seemed to be in some state of denial at this point. I did a survey of the house to see what might be in greatest danger and think about what items were important to save. Outdoors there were all kinds of things that would need to be brought in if indeed the storm was going to hit us. Our landlady finally replied to an e-mail that I sent her the day before. Seems that the house itself has no storm shutters and she felt it was too late to start boarding stuff up, so she basically said, “Keep yourself safe - head for the hills!” I said, “I would, if there were any hills in Florida.” The weatherman still didn’t have any good news. I tried to get some sleep, as I knew the next day would be busy.

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