I checked my handy note card: Category 1, 74-95 miles per hour; Category 2, 96-110 miles per hour. I recalled Francis and Jeanne and Wilma.
In spite of the news reports, Isaias did not speed up. The storm didn’t even come ashore. There was no rain.
Early this morning my husband, Ed, drank his coffee. Our eyes met. “I feel like we wasted the whole weekend,” he said.
“Wasted the whole weekend?” I inquired. “What would you prefer? Destruction?” Ed smirked.
It’s a weird feeling. The feeling that you’re going to get clobbered, preparing, and then it doesn’t happen at all. I recall Hurricane Dorian, September 1st of last year. I was convinced “this was it” – the end of all things material that I loved. I carried around a small box of my most dear possessions. Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5, hovered over and dismantled the Bahamas, but never arrived…
When Ed and I first moved into our home in Sewall’s Point, my neighbors told me they put hurricane shutters up on half the house every August. I thought they were being extremists. I rolled my eyes. Now, with so many fits and starts, I’ve begun to do the same.
Ed wanted to wait until September, but I thought, “you know, Isaias, this is an opportunity. An opportunity to plan, just in case Mother Nature isn’t crying wolf.“
So the bedroom is darker, and the living room needs lamps to read. But me? I feel ready. I feel prepared.
This photo is on page 23 of my mother’s book Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River. The insert reads:
“This photograph of the Seymour Gideon property was made after 1948 when Arthur Ruhnke started taking photographs locally, and before the August 26th 1949 hurricane that destroyed the fish houses. A trail leads to the ridge called “Mt. Washington” (Killer Hill, Skyline Drive today) by the pioneers. The watery expanses of the Jensen Savannas are in the distance. Notice the clear water and the abundance of river grass.” (Thurlow/Ruhnke Collection)
It is a beautiful photograph….isn’t it? Certainly after the Hurricane of ’49 hit the seagrasses of Jensen in the Indian River Lagoon were impacted too!
~Wind gusts reached 160 mph (260 km/h) at Stuart.
~Stuart (Jensen) experienced the most severe damage from the storm in south Florida; hundreds of homes, apartment buildings, stores, and warehouse buildings lost roofs and windows. Interior furnishings were blown through broken glass into the streets.
When hurricanes Frances and Jeanne hit within three weeks apart in 2004, entering both times at my hometown of Sewall’s Point, there was reported loss not only of property, but also of seagrasses in the Indian River Lagoon. Seagrass is very slow to recover…
As some locations of the grasses were experiencing recovery, they died back again due to the extreme discharges and toxic algae blooms in 2013 and 2016 ~linked to Lake Okeechobee, and canals C-44, as well as C-23, C-24 and C-25.
The South Florida Water Management District reports periodically on not overall numbers but rather “patch dynamics” at certain locations of the lagoon. (For Martin County: Boy Scout Island and Willoughby Creek.) I feel this is limited. The best way to see seagrass bed coverage is from the air. I am hoping in the future there will be money in the budget or the District could coordinate with local pilot for aerial seagrass surveys. Another way to approach this is though Google Earth mapping/aerials, and my brother Todd Thurlow and Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic are working on this now.
Hurricanes, discharges, fertilizer from our yards…Seagrasses are as important as property as they are the nurseries of the oceans and keep the lagoon “living.” Look at the aerials below to see the losses, so that we may be inspired to work for and better document a recovery.