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Hurricane Wilma Comes to Town

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Hurricane Wilma hit Coral Springs hard as a category 3 ( regardless of the National Hurricane Center’s prediction of a category 1 maybe even a tropical storm).  This was an incredible experience. My home is located in the Cypress Glenn area which is located in southwest Coral Springs. I had prepared my home on Sunday, the day before, by installing the hurricane panels on the windows and openings, filling the generator with gas, while my wife and kids went to the grocery store and bought provisions for 3 days.  Don’t forget the batteries! Good thing we didn’t . The front of my home faces the south and the storm approached from the southeast.  The National Hurricane Center forecasters indicated that the worst winds of the storm were at the front of the hurricane. The eye was going to pass over us and then the  weaker backside of the storm. They were wrong.

At about 8 am, we started to get high winds first from the west and then directly from the south as the hurricane approached out area.  Branches and trees were flying around.   The wind pressure was pushing rain water through the opening between the door and the frame.  I looked in the garage and saw the garage door bowing in and out at least 6 inches just like in a horror movie. We received a call from our neighbor across the street. A tree had fallen over the street onto our driveway. They wanted to know if my car was hit.  After much clattering by pebbles and stones hitting the shutters, all of a sudden the wind died down. We are not sure how long the first phase of the hurricane lasted but about 11 am the eye had obviously entered our area.  We and the neighbors ventured outside to see what damage was there.

“Are you all right?” , “Everything OK?” Everyone asked each other, and fortunately no one had suffered any severe damage other than trees falling on their lawns and a few cars.  All of the roofs looked intacked, and the screening over our swimming pool was flying in the wind.  We all still had electricity and since the NHC had told us that we had experienced the worst part of the storm, we all breathed a sigh of relief. About an hour later, we noticed the grey clouds start rolling in from the southwest. The winds started to pick up and everyone went back into their homes.  Now the brunt of the storm hit, and hit hard.

The winds shifted from the west to coming in from the north.  The house started to rumble like a freight train was coming through it.  We heard numerous banging as tree limbs that were down earlier were picked up by the wind and floated into whatever was in its way. The weaker backside was now hitting us.

From the changing air pressure and the suction of the winds, you can see the windows bellowing out and in rapidly.  The structure from our screened pool broke away.  A motor like sound was coming from the laundry room window. It sounded the same as when as kids we used to place baseball cards attached to the bicycle frame and hear them flapping as the wheel turned as we pedaled.  The north side of our house was being pounded by the driving rains and wind.  The power went out and the phone lines went dead.  Several minutes later, as quickly as the storm hit us, was as quickly as it left. However, unlike the first part of the storm,  when we went back onto the street, it was a different story.

Cement roof tiles weighing 50 to 100 pounds in sections of 3 where off many roofs.  A tree was on top of a neighbor’s house, and whatever the first part of the hurricane didn’t get a hold of, the last part did. Almost every tree was  damaged in one way or another.  Most of the palm trees made it through the storm. Debris was everywhere. Almost everyone had roof damage.  No one had electricity.  But, everyone was healthy and alive.

For the next 3 days several of our neighbors would meet in our driveway as darkness fell.  Everyone brought food and drinks ( some great wines as well). I was one of the few that had a generator, and our freezer and refrigerator was kept cool and cold.  I had a 500 watt spot light beaming on the tree that fell on our driveway and missed the car. The propane Bar-B-Q came in handy as well as each of us took turns, being the chef and cooking for the others.  First there were hotdogs one day, hamburger the next, and a few lamb chops, etc.  No one wanted their food to spoil and everyone wanted each other to at least enjoy it.

The line ups during the day at the gas stations were intolerable. Since most gas stations were closed down on Monday, and on Tuesday due to no electricity, no pumps were working. This was an ironic situation as there was plenty of gas at the stations but almost all of the stations did not have any generators to pump the gas so that people can get the gas they needed to run the generators!  When a gas station finally opened up because people lined up in the hundreds. 

Now, 5 days later, we are coming out of the storm so to speak. Almost every neighbor is helping out to remove debris from the streets. Our electricity has finally come on, and hopefully, to stay.  We are all clearing the debris and life goes on.  None of us will ever forget living through the storm, and the good  feeling that followed.  As for the future we all know what needs to be done now to be better prepared for the next storm that every knows will likely come again, sometime in the future.  This was some exprience.

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Howard Melamed

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