With that passing of Hurricane Dennis, which surprisingly didn’t make a beeline for Florida, it made me think about the storms that harassed us last year.

Last year was an interesting, yet at the same time, frustrating year. It was the Year of Hurricanes for Florida and much of the Southeastern U.S.

It was the year that made me realize that I should take hurricanes more seriously, and not take them too lightly. So I thought I’d impart some of my experiences with the storms that bombarded us last year.

  • Tropial Storm Bonnie – While it wasn’t a hurricane, Bonnie was essentially the scout for Hurricane Charley. Bonnie weakened the ground with her rain, lashed a bit of wind around, weakened a few structures, and generally caused anxiety to settle in, because there was a storm right behind her tail.
  • Hurricane Charley – Following very close on the heels of Tropical Storm Bonnie, in fact the first major storms to strike the same state within 24 hours since 1906, Charley made sure to finish what Bonnie started.

    Charley wasn’t too bad where I was at, a few limbs were broken and landed in the yard, the overhang on the front porch blew clean off and was about 20 yards away when Charley passed, and of course the ground was saturated after Charley passed over us.

  • Hurricane Frances – After threats of other storms, Frances emerged as the hurricane to threaten Florida. It was the hurricane that hurt here the most. I stayed in another house, as it was considered stronger and stabler than the one I’m in now.

    My roommate drove to North Carolina, and I insisted on staying and taking care of the pets and the house. Of course, at the time, I was taking hurricanes lightly.

    About 6 hours into the hurricane, I was hearing an unnatural howl in the wind, it picked up so bad, that I moved away from windows to make sure that if they imploded, I wouldn’t be sprayed with jagged pieces of glass. Then a loud noise that sounded like an airplane had landed on the roof of the house.

    This is what happened. A giant tree limb penetrated through the roof and was sticking about 4 feet out of the ceiling. Somehow the hosue was holding the tree up, through the storm, and the following weeks as we tried to figure out how to remove it from the house, as FEMA had their hands full trying to care for so many other people in the Florida.

    Now I wonder if a tornado passed through where I was, as a noise stood out over the wind at one point, and Frances has been recorded to spawn the most tornadoes of any hurricane on record. A trailer a block away had it roof peeled back as if a giant can opener decided to peel it apart, and neighbors said a tornado jumped right on it.

    I was so unsure that the house would be able to hold the tree when it crashed on it, that I ran out into the hurricane to a house across the street, which wasn’t an easy trek at all, with debris flying all over. One branch whipped past my leg and scratched me deep enough to draw blood. It was frightening, yet an amazing display of Mother Nature’s power. I called 911, which was the first time I did that, and they pretty much put me in a queue, as emergency services pretty much had their hands full at that point.

    The thing about Frances, was that it wasn’t as powerful as Charley or Ivan, but it was huge, and it was slow. At one point, I think they said it stalled over the entire State. Talk about a punishment.

  • Hurricane Ivan – Another tropical storm scared Florida, but it was Ivan that came out our way. Fortunately, it was the only hurricane that didn’t see the giant red painted target on Florida, as it went to the west of us. However, in a freak phenomenon, it went up the east coast, came back across Florida as a tropical depression, dumping even more rain on us, reformed into a tropical storm in the Gulf Coast west of Florida, and attacked the U.S. again. Can we get a break?!?
  • Hurricane Jeanne – At this point, Florida was sick of death of hurricanes, and I was too. Between having to clean up the yard of objects, taking care of the 5 cats and a dog, a roommate, and and her elderly mother, I had enough. Unfortunately Jeanne wanted to test my patience, and I said screw it, we’re going to a shelter this time. I’ve never been to one, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience, but it was a lot less stress, and safe, than doing it the other way of either driving away or holing out at home.

So you can imagine my surprise that Hurricane Dennis missed Florida yesterday. Did we lose the large bullseye over the State or something? I’m not breathing easy though, as there are a couple more tropical storms/depressions forming in the Atlantic now as I type this.

Forecasters last year predicted this year will be equal or as bad as last year’s storm season. Let’s hope they’re as wrong as the weathermen on the local news station that often say it’ll rain, yet it turns out to be a sunny cloudless day.