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No Florida informational entry is complete without adding hurricanes.  I am sure you have all seen the news over and over about the unfortunate hurricane season.  Yes, it isn't always the sunshine state, but only in rare instances like these.

It is my hope here to show the bonding of individuals, and not to discourage. So I will only include a few pictures and discuss my own personal experience with our most recent hurricane, Ivan.

We were a good 2 hours or so from where it was supposed to hit after fleeing an hour or so northeast of our residence.  However, Ivan was so massive, there really was no truly safe place, just places a little "safer". 

Let me give you a visual.....notice Florida? Now look at the size of Ivan !

It is one of those "you can run but you cannot hide situations".   Well, even after fleeing we did miss a tornado hitting us by 8 seconds, according to local news reports.  We did have to bunker down twice due to more tornados.  We were in the midst of 70 mile an hour gusts, but we were shielded from the buildings around our hotel.  We lost power, but it was only for one evening.   I was able to also e-mail family and pageant sisters from our hotel room, including Lynanne.  

We were still considered the very lucky ones.  

Here is an idea of where we fled compared to where we were living.  We live approximately where the blinking white star is.  We fled to where the blinking red star is.

Now, I know it doesn't seem like a very large distance, but I have to tell you, when we came back home 2 days later, we were glad we did not stay home.  We saw major tornado damage on our journey home -  trees down, power lines down, and it just looked like a war zone.  

We weren't 15 minutes into our ride home when our journey was delayed.  We had to wait until tree trunks could be removed from the road where a major tornado had hit.  

While sitting in the car waiting to move on, we took a look around.  We could see trees and bushes on top of houses instead of in front of them, where the holes now were from their original planting place.  Windows were shattered in homes and surrounding businesses.  Signs bent in half, shattered, or missing.   Major size trees snapped like twigs.  Metal car ports that were now twisted pieces of almost unrecognizable debris.  All of this was only 15 minutes from where we had stayed in our hotel.

In Pensacola, Florida, one of the hardest areas hit, this is a small example of the damage.  Notice in this aerial view and side by side the extensive damage to the warehouse, the complete breakage of the dock, and even the change in land boundaries and color.  Boats are missing, and some boats are now lying where the trees once were. 

Upon our arrival home back in Crestview, Florida, we were without electricity and drinking water for four days.  That is just where "I" lived!  We were the lucky ones.  Others in Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, and Pensacola, along with others? Weeks went by!  However, it would have been months if it wasn't for the gallant effort of the surrounding states of Georgia and Alabama (and other wonderful volunteers at Gulf Power and Chelco Power with their massive trucks, many volunteers, and their endless work around the clock) banding together to insure the quickest timeline possible to bring normalcy again to the area.

Military was stationed throughout the towns they could reach. They were giving out bottles and bottles of free drinking water, generators, and some gas stations still running were giving out gas cards.    We ourselves waited in a gas line for over two hours upon returning home from where we fled.  The Red Cross was everywhere helping as well.  Human resources were giving out food stuffs and emergency funds.  

Our ID's had to be shown to police barricades to prove our residences in order to travel any distance, to protect us from the damaged areas.

The damage was amazing to the gulf coast region.  It was a nightmare, and still is for some who were much more affected then we were.  Thankfully, our family remained safe.  Others? For weeks they only got to ride a bus along the shore to see if they could get a glimpse of their homes on the islands - the islands no longer accessible from the mainland.  Bridges were gone or rendered unsafe.  Many were homeless.  Some didn't get to access their own home damage for over six weeks.  Some were still stranded on the islands with little to no help. They were being air lifted to the mainland by helicopter.  Hotels were mainly housing the volunteer workers, and rooms were sparse for those with no place to stay.

In some areas, FEMA stepped in and told workers to have a workable bridge up in ONE DAY.   They gave only TWO DAYS for some major buildings, and what is amazing? It "WAS" done.

My husband and I personally knew of two restaurant owners who had a 5 star restaurant in Pensacola, beach side. It "was" 3 stories high! Each floor strewn with the finest china, solid  silver utensils, and the finest cuisine.  The entire restaurant went underwater and was never to be seen again.  BUT, they are rebuilding.  All are rebuilding, or have already rebuilt.

 Much was done by the banding together of civilians; county politicians; state officials; government officials and organizations; and even radio stations.  The radio stations in our area did not go for ratings during this tragic event, but they did what is called a "simulcast" instead. They melded their wattage so that all could receive news from one source in order to keep the public informed.

The bonding of individuals was immense.

There are many tragic stories from such disasters.  Those that have lost homes and even loved ones, our prayers are still with them.

  Pages like this are really tragic to read AND write; however, they can also be inspirational.   It shows a real bonding of people when in need, and the fact that life still does go on, and that is a beautiful part of life, and Florida.

Now on to a more pleasant subject -  and did you really think I would leave it out????