All posts by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Our Most Powerful Hurricane, St Lucie River/IRL

“Let’s put it this way, if we get a ’40s-style hurricane, people here will forget all about Frances, Jeanne and Wilma. Compared to the ’40s, those storms were like breezes.”

~Jay Barnes, author of the 1998 book, Florida’s Hurricane History as quoted in Palm Beach News Daily.

With all the talk of hurricanes this year, and people still shook up from Hurricane Irma, I asked my mother what year held the record as Stuart’s strongest storm along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

I knew about historic hurricanes that hit the Treasure Coast in 1933, 1947, and 1949 but was unsure. My mother’s answer, without a doubt: “the Hurricane of August 26, 1949.”

During this time, storms were unnamed and of course there was not today’s technology or communications. The storm is recorded to have had Category 4 winds (130-156 mph) when it struck the Florida Coast near West Palm Beach. That put Stuart on the northeast side of the storm receiving the highest winds, and records show gusts much higher.

Mary Jones, the director of Stuart Heritage, has a primary source regarding this storm with some amazing numbers. The source is an envelope from the Garnett Rushing Early Collection. Mrs Rushing was from a pioneer family and this is what is written on the envelope as the hurricane tore through Stuart in 1949.

“Lost over Lake Okeechobee. Hurricane 1949. Grady Norton. Stuart Airport Barometer broke at 210 M.P.H. winds exceeded 230 M.P.H. Miami Weather Bureau reported the this hurricane went to sea over  an unpopulated area between West Palm Beach and Ft Pierce.”

Grady Norton, was the “first director” of the National Hurricane Center. It is believed he wrote the notes on the envelope or perhaps they were notes taken by the Rushing family while he broadcast? In any case, the numbers are literally “off the chart,” (gusts at 201/230MPH!!!) and at that time it is almost amusing to note that Stuart was referred to as “an unpopulated area between West Palm Beach and Ft Pierce.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grady_Norton)

Well, Stuart is not an “unpopulated” area today, and as historian hurricane author James Barnes notes: ” If we get another 40s style hurricane, people will forget about Frances, Jeane, Wilma (and certainly he would add Irma’s visit to Stuart) –compared to the 1940s, those storms were just breezes.”

There is to be a presentation on Stuart’s historic hurricanes, Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Flagler Place, 201 SW Flagler Ave.(http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com)

An envelope from Stuart Heritage’s collection. The envelope is  from the Garnett Rushing Early Collection courtesy of Stuart Heritage Museum Director, Mary Jones.
Photos from the 1949 Hurricane in Stuart, Florida, Mrs Sands. Archives of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

Newspaper articles from the archives of Sandra Henderson Thurlow. Note Sally Eaton is Sally Schwartz.

1949 Hurricane Aurthur Ruhnke, Thurlow collection.

Atlanta Hurricane Season of 1949: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1949_Atlantic_hurricane_season

Historic Palm Beach Blog: http://historicpalmbeach.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2011/08/22/this-week-in-history-last-major-hurricane-hits-palm-beach-county/

Palm Beach County History On-line: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/hurricane-timeline

Palm Beach News Daily:http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/palm-beach-has-long-history-weathering-hurricanes/C9mKKw1d0uyq6EiCznfAYP/

National Geographic What Made Patricia the Most Powerful Hurricane Ever? http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/151023-patricia-hurricane-strongest-history-weather-atmosphere/

Irma’s Waters Ravage the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

Hurricane  Irma may be gone, but her waters are not. Our now black river and the giant plume off the St Lucie Inlet attest to this. Clean rain that fell in our region during the hurricane is now filthy “stormwater” discharging, unfiltered, through manmade canals C-23, C-24, C-25, and C-44.  Nature did not design the river to directly take this much water; this much water kills.

Every plume looks different, and this one is multilayered with no clear border. Sediment soup, black-brown in color, yesterday it extended out about 2/3 of a mile into a stirred up Atlantic and flowed south, in the rough waves not quite having made it to Peck’s Lake.

Since Hurricane Irma’s rains, area canals dug with no environmental foresight in the 1920s and 50s for flood control, and to facilitate agriculture and development, have been flowing straight into the river. On top of this, in anticipation of the hurricane, three days prior to IRMA the Army Corp of Engineers began discharging from Lake Okeechobee. During the hurricane they halted, and then started up again at high discharge levels reaching over (4000 cfs +/-) this past Friday, September 15th. As Lake Okeechobee rises and inflow water pours in from the north, and is blocked by the Everglades Agricultural Area in the south, we can expect more Lake O discharge on top of the canal releases themselves.

As advocates for the St Lucie River we continue the fight to expedite the building of the EAA reservoir and to create a culture to “send more water south.” In the meantime, we, and the fish and wildlife, and the once “most bio diverse estuary in North America,” suffer…

Links to lake O level and canal flows are below.

Lake Okeechobee level, 9-18-17: 15.50, http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml

S-308 Lake O:http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/plots/s308d.pdf

S-80 C-44 Canal:http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/plots/s80d.pdf

C-23/S-97; C-24/S-49, & C-25/S-50: (click on highlighted S # arrow corresponding to canal to see discharge into river; for instance, C-23 is released through “S,” structure 97, so click on S-97 to see flows for C-23 canal) http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/pls/portal/realtime.pkg_rr.proc_rr?p_op=FORT_PIERCE

My brother Todd, has complied many other links on his website’s favorites under St Lucie River and ACOE/SFWMD: http://www.thurlowpa.com/news.htm

Post Irma flight over St Lucie River/IRL 9-17-17

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image. All canals shown here discharge into the SLR/IRL.
The confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon at Sewall’s Point, an area once full of seagrasses and fisheries and formerly considered the heart of “the most bio diverse estuary in North America.”
Waves in plume breaking over offshore reefs; looking north to Hurchinson Island.
Southern edge of plume along Jupiter Island and Jupiter Narrows south of St Lucie Inlet.

Looking south off St Lucie Inlet.
South edge of plume looking south towards Jupiter Island.

JTL 9-18-17

Irma, Nature’s Patterns, and the “Wonder of the World,” SLR/IRL

 

The spiral is a pattern in Nature seen in many things…amazing!

As many people along Florida’s east coast, last Tuesday, I was completely prepared for record-breaking, Category 5 Hurricane Irma, to take my house away. She didn’t, but she did others, and the stress for citizens across our state, powerless, stuck in traffic, flooded, schedules off, schools closed, not able to work and create income, with downed vegetation strewn everywhere, is tremendous. It has been widely reported that at one point two-thirds of the state was without power; Irma’s evacuation could be the largest in United State’s history.

Yesterday, after a week in “hurricaneville,” I decided to drive north to the beach to clear my head, calm my nerves, and regroup, as I have many times in my fifty-three years here in Martin County. The beach was full of people, people I did not know. Children ran in the waves shrieking with joy as their exhausted parents held each other silently. As I walked by each family, couple, or person, I wondered what they had been through the past week. And here, we had all come to the edge of the sea, where just days ago nature’s wrath raged taking away the expensive restored beach sands, taking away the control we fight so hard to hold on to.

I walked…

Just north of Jensen Beach, it was like old times when I myself was a kid. Shells were everywhere! A blanket of coquina underneath my feet. I picked up a large, perfect lightning whelk marveling at its beauty. “Look at that spiral…” I thought to myself. ” How peculiar, It looks just like the eye and bands of the hurricane…” a pattern in Nature, I had forgotten about.

For a few minutes, I was transported. I collected many shells, choosing the most beautiful with the best spirals. It got me thinking about words Ernie Lyons wrote years ago, about how we become like moles living underground and forget what a miraculous world it really is…even when the stresses of the world are great.

“What a Wonderful World”

I get an indescribable “lift” from the habit of appreciating life.

All of us, even the most harried, have moments when we are fleetingly aware of the glory that surrounds us. Like moles that occasionally break throughout their tunnels, we infrequently  catch a glimpse of the natural beauty and awesome majesty outside the corridor within which we have bound ourselves.

And pop back into our holes!

The habit of appreciation—–the cultivation of the sense of awareness—are forgotten roads to enrichment of personal experience. Not money in the bank, or real estate, or houses, or the exercise of power are true riches. By the true tally, the only value is “how much do you enjoy life?”

All around each of us are the wonders of creation—the shining sun, a living star bathing us with the magic mystery of light…we look to the heavens at night and wonder at the glittering  panoply of suns so distant and so strange,  while accepting as commonplace our own.

We live in a world of indescribable wonder. Words cannot tell why beauty is beautiful, our senses must perceive what makes it so.

What we call art, literature, genuine poetry, and  true religion are the products of awareness, seeing and feeling the magic which lies beyond the mole-tunnel view.

One man, in his mole-tunnel, says he is inconsequential, a slave to his job, of dust and to dust going. Another, poking his head our into the light, realizes that he is a miraculous as any engine, with eyes to see, a mind which to think, a spirit whose wings know no limitations.

The mole-man is bound to a commonplace earth and a commonplace life. He lives among God’s wonders without ever seeing them. But those who make a habit of appreciation find wonder in every moment, and every day, by the sense of participation in a miracle.

They see the glory  of the flowers, the shapes and colors of trees and grass, the grace of tigers and serpents, the stories of selfishness or selflessness that are written on the faces men and women. They feel the wind upon their faces and the immeasurable majesty of distances in sky and sea.

And in those things there is the only true value. This a wonderful  world. Take time to see it. You’re cheat yourself unless you appreciate it.—–E.L., 1957.

Ernest F. Lyons, famed St Lucie River conservationist, award-winning writer, and long time editor of the Stuart News: (http://www.flpress.com/node/63)

Transcribed by historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow

Links:

Logarithmic Spiral: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logarithmic_spiral

Fibonacci Sequence in Nature: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/7-beautiful-examples-fibonacci-sequence-nature

Florida’s Flood System Built on 1947 Hurricane Season, Now Irma, SLR/IRL

Florida hurricane of 1947 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgAHv_Z5wqE

As the possibility of a direct hit from Hurricane Irma approaches, I can’t help but reflect.

Looking back, we see that it was the severe flooding and the hurricane season of 1947 that led Florida and the U.S. Government down the track to where we are today through the creation of the Florida Central and South Florida Flood Project, (CSFP).

In 1947, during the United States’ post World War II boom, Florida had a very active and destructive hurricane season. This slightly edited excerpt from the  ACOE’s book  River of Interest does a good job giving a short overview of that year:

 “…Rain began falling on the Everglades in large amounts. On 1 March, a storm dropped six inches of rain, while April and May also saw above average totals. The situation became severe in the summer…

As September approached and the rains continued, the ground in the Everglades became waterlogged and lake levels reached dangerous heights. Then, on 17 September, a hurricane hit Florida on the southwest coast, passing Lake Okeechobee on the west and dumping large amounts of rain on the upper Everglades, flooding most of the agricultural land south of Lake Okeechobee.

George Wedgworth, who would later become president of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida and whose parents were vegetable growers in the Everglades, related that his mother called him during the storm and told him, “ this is the last call I’ll make from this telephone because I’m leaving. . . . “We’ve got an inch or two of water over our oak floors and they’re taking me out on a row boat.”

Such conditions were prevalent throughout the region. Before the area had a chance to recover from the devastation, another hurricane developed, moving into South Florida and the Atlantic Ocean by way of Fort Lauderdale. Coastal cities received rain in large quantities, including six inches in two hours at Hialeah and nearly 15 inches at Fort Lauderdale in less than 24 hours.

The Everglades Drainage District kept its drainage canals open to discharge to the ocean as much of the floodwater in the agricultural area as it could, exacerbating coastal flooding. East coast residents charged the District with endangering their lives in order to please ag- ricultural interests, but this was vehemently denied…

Whoever was to blame, the hurricanes had devastating effects. Although the levee around Lake Okeechobee held, preventing the large numbers of deaths that occurred in 1926 and 1928, over 2,000 square miles of land south of the lake was covered by, in the words of U.S. Senator Spessard Holland, “an endless sheet of water anywhere from 6 to 7 feet deep down to a lesser depth.” The Corps estimated that the storms caused $59 million in property damage throughout southern Florida, but Holland believed that the agency had “under- stated the actual figures.” The destruction shocked citizens of South Florida, both in the upper Everglades and in the coastal cities, and they demanded that something be done.”

Cover of the “Weeping Cow” book. (South Florida Water Management District)

Well, what was done was the Central and South Florida Flood Project.

Key Florida politicians, and the public demanded the Federal Government assist, and as both the resources and will were present, the project was authorized in 1948 with massive additional components making way not only for flood protection, but for even more agriculture and development. In Martin County and St Lucie County this happened by the controversial building of canals C-23, C-24, C-25 and “improving” the infamous C-44 canal that connects to Lake Okeechobee. This construction was basically the nail in the coffin for the St Lucie River and Southern Indian River Lagoon.

Map showing the Jacksonville District’s initial comprehensive proposal, 1947. (Claude Pepper Collection, Claude Pepper Library, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida)

But before the death of the environment was clear, the Corps developed a plan that would include 1,000 miles of levees, 720 miles of canals, and almost 200 water control structures. Flooding in coastal cities and in the agricultural lands south of Lake Okeechobee would be minimized and more controllable.

Yes, a goal of the program was to provide conservation areas for water storage, protecting fish and wildlife habitat. Although water conservation areas were constructed, conservation of wildlife did not work out so well, and has caused extreme habitat degradation of the Everglades system, Lake Okeechobee, the southern and northern estuaries, the Kissimmee chain of lakes, and Florida Bay.  Nonetheless, this project made possible for over five million people to now live and work in the 18,000 square mile area that extends from south of Orlando to Florida Bay “protected from flooding” but in 2017 living with serious water quality issues.

With problems apparent, in 1992 the Central and South Florida Project was “re-studied” and we continue to work on that today both for people and for wildlife…

Irma many be the system’s greatest test yet…

Yesterday’s Army Corp of Engineer Periodic Scientist Call was focused on saving people’s lives and safety. After the built-system was discussed, Mr Tyler Beck of the Florida Wildlife Commission, and Mr Steve Schubert of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported on the endangered Everglades Snail Kites and their nests at Lake Okeechobee. Like most birds, pairs mate for life. There are presently fifty-five active nests, thirty-three in incubation, and twenty-three with baby chicks…

In the coming days, as the waters rise on Lake Okeechobee, and the winds scream through an empty void that was once a cathedral of colossal cypress trees, Mother Nature will again change the lives of Florida’s wildlife and its people, just as she did in 1947. Perhaps this time, she will give us vision for a future where nature and humankind can live in greater harmony…

Hurricane Irma as a category 5, 2017
Everglades Snail Kite, Florida Audubon
SFWMD basin map for SLR showing S-308 and S-80 along with other structures.
South Florida today…
Florida map 1500s

Links:

1947 Hurricane: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947_Cape_Sable_hurricane

1947 Hurricane, 2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947_Fort_Lauderdale_hurricane

Central and South Florida Flood Project full text: https://archive.org/stream/centralsouthernf00unse/centralsouthernf00unse_djvu.txt

Restudy of CSFFP: http://141.232.10.32/about/restudy_csf_devel.aspx

Central and South Florida Flood Project Restudy, 1948Sofia: https://sofia.usgs.gov/sfrsf/entdisplays/restudy/

River of Interest, ACOE, Chapter 2: http://141.232.10.32/docs/river_interest/031512_river_interests_2012_chap_02.pdf

US Fish and Wildlife: The endangered and beautiful Everglades Snail Kite:https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/snailkite.htm

Environmental Provisions in Florida’s State Constitution/Getting Your Issues in Front of the CRC, SLR/IRL

Indian River Lagoon, John Whiticar

Part #4 in a series about the Constitution Revision Commission, (CRC) and how to get involved, by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Environmental Provisions in Florida’s State Constitution/Getting Your Issues in Front of the CRC (https://www.flcrc.gov)
The Florida constitution….(http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3)

It is amazing to realize how much of the Florida Constitution ensures protections of the environment, and yet we see the continued degradation of the natural resources of our state. It’s time we learn our constitution by heart, make sure it’s followed, and take action to see if something need be added.

Today, I am going to list the areas of the constitution that have to do with the environment for easy reference. You can click the links below to see the full amendments.

In 1968, “ardent environmentalist” and respected state representative, John Robert Middlemas, of Panama City, insisted that words of support for environmental policy were placed in the historic constitutional revision that same year.

In his honor, I ask that all fellow environmentalists review below, and ask oneself how to make these words take on a new sense of urgency as our springs, rivers, and natural lands need our voice. At the end of this article, and after reviewing our state constitution, if so inspired, please feel free to enter your own constitutional proposal or improve one that’s simply being ignored.

The CRC is considering September 22nd as the deadline for public proposals so please submit soon!

As an aside, it is my honor to serve as the Chair of the CRC’s General Provisions Committee, which is charged with examining Article II of the Florida Constitution. If you have comments or thoughts regarding Article II (or other provisions relating to the environment), please email me at Jacqui.Lippisch@flcrc.gov.

Here is the list of current environmental provisions in the Florida Constitution:

 

  • General Provisions (Article II): Section 7, Natural Resources & Scenic Beauty/Everglades Agricultural Area
  • Executive (Article IV): Section 4 (f), cabinet/Internal Improvement Fund/Land Acquisition Trust Fund; Section 9, Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Finance and Taxation (Article VII): Section 3 (f), conservation easements/ taxes -exemptions; Section 4 (b) taxation-assessments ; Section 9 (a), special districts/water management; Section 11 (e) state/revenue bonds; Section (14) bonds-pollution control
  • Miscellaneous (Article X): Section 11, sovereignty lands; Section 16, limiting marine net fishing; Section 17, Everglades Trust Fund; Section 18, disposition of conservation lands; Section 28, Land Acquisition Trust Fund, (Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, 2014.)

  To enter your own proposal or idea regarding the environment:

                 

Adams Ranch, Bud Adams/Photographer
  • Go to gov/Proposals/Submit to create a free account and submit your proposed change to the Florida constitution. The online tool allows you to create your proposal using legal language by redacting or adding language. Remember to keep it simple and clear.

 

  • Using the same program, submit your proposal to the Constitution Revision Commission and sign up for the alert emails. Commissioners will review proposals and determine which proposals should be placed on Florida’s 2018 General Election ballot.

 

*Proposals can also be emailed to the commission at admin@flcrc.gov, or sent in the mail to: Constitution Revision Commission, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399. Thank you so much for conserving and protecting the great state of Florida!

Manatee, Paul Nicklen, King’s Bay, FL
Mangroves, John Whiticar
Kids swimming/Florida springs, John Moran
Blue Springs, Madison, FL Sandra Henderson Thurlow
We especially must conserve and protect our environment for the future! (My niece, Evie, co-founder of River Kidz http://riverscoalition.org/riverkidz/ photo, Jenny Flaugh)

 

 

 

 

Florida, The Greatest Real Estate Development in the World, Unless…SLR/IRL

This 1925 Florida News Real Estate Investor’s Guide, reminds us exactly how developers saw Florida in 1925, “as the greatest real estate development in the world!”

Sure, Florida remains perhaps “the greatest real estate development in the world,” unless of course, our waters are, “now and then,” filled with toxic algae.

Let’s hope that the Florida Memory Project’s future timeline will not reflect that our generation allowed the destruction of the greatest real estate market in the world because we thought we had more time that we really did…

https://www.floridamemory.com/exhibits/timeline/

Department of Environmental Protection: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/watersheds/bmap.htm

Florida Department of Agriculture, Best Management Practices: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Business-Services/Water/Agricultural-Best-Management-Practices

Florida Water Management Districts: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/watman/

Community gets primer on toxic algae | Clay Today, 8-30-17
http://www.claytodayonline.com/stories/community-gets-primer-on-toxic-algae,8268

JTL 9-1-17

CRC in the Classroom ~Educating Future Voters

My second period 8th grade English class at Stuart Middle School, 1999.

Part #3 in a series about the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) and how to get involved, by CRC Commissioner, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 8-30-17.

CRC in the Classroom ~Educating Future Voters (http://flcrc.gov)

The teachable moment….

Sometimes it only comes around every twenty years!

As a former educator, I believe the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is a great opportunity to get young people directly involved in the sometimes far-away process of government. Knowing that someone “who can directly affect their lives” is listening on the other side is a tremendous motivator for students.

For instance, when I taught eighth-grade persuasive and expository writing, I had my students address their essays to Mr. Tony George who served on our local school board. After a classroom discussion about what a school board was, and what these board members do, the students wrote in their very best handwriting applying similes, metaphors, quotes, and first-hand experiences in an effort to persuade Mr. George to consider allowing gum-chewing, letting up on the dress code, providing more activities and after school sports … basically, any subject of their choice.

I was amazed at the increased motivation of the young people once they knew they were really writing to “somebody” and not “just writing.”  The highlight of the experience was when Mr. George in red pen commented on each of the papers, and later, personally, returned them to our classroom having written his own persuasive essay in response. I read it aloud and the students noted his use of technique in the persuasive arena.  It was fun! Without even realizing it, students learned about local government, politics, and most important, became motivated to express themselves in writing.

The Constitution Revision Commission of 2017/18  provides an even greater opportunity to give students an impromptu real-world civics lesson about the role of state constitutions and the difference between state and federal government. To get started, you can follow these steps for your lesson plan:

 

  1. Introduce the CRC at gov noting that the Florida Constitution is up for review.

 

  1. Introduce students to the chair and commissioners, the people they will be writing:        gov/Commissioners.

 

  1. Review the Florida Constitution’s twelve articles and selected sections:  gov/Constitution.

 

  1. Remind students that if they are thirteen years old today, in twenty years they will be thirty-three! Put students in groups to brainstorm and discuss what they think will be most important to the state over the next twenty years, and have them figure out what article and section of the constitution their proposal or ideas fits best.

 

  1. Show students how they can create their own proposals, applying their best English class skills, by using tools on the CRC website to redact or add language: gov/Proposals/Submit.

 

  1. The deadline being considered for public proposals is September 22, so please submit ideas soon! Student proposals can be submitted on-line gov/Proposals/Submit, emailed to the commission at admin@flcrc.gov, or sent in the mail to: Constitution Revision Commission, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399. If there is not a particular commissioner your class wishes to write, you are welcome to address them to me.

 

I hope you’ll get your classroom involved. Real-world learning is so effective and fun. Of course, the main motivator is that getting involved with the CRC is a rare, teachable moment, that only comes around once every twenty years!

Me with my first period Pensacola High School 1993, English Class. (Photo courtesy of photography teacher at PHS.)