"Will We Move Back to Florida?" – Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and Earthquakes, Oh My!

With more deadly tornadoes leveling the heartland, I can’t help but think about our own brushes with natural disasters. I grew up with earthquakes in California but the scariest one was the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake when I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area. That Tuesday I would have driven across the Bay Bridge at around 5 p.m. to do some freelance work for McGraw-Hill Publishers in Berkeley. The earthquake struck at 5:04 p.m. and a part of the Bay Bridge ripped apart, sending cars into the Bay.

Thankfully, I’d decided to visit my family in Oregon because my cousin and her youngest daughter were visiting from Utah so I joined them at the beach house. At the time, my mother and step dad were living in their Oregon coast home just on the weekends so there wasn’t any cable or radio or any way to find out what was happening.

So, the way I found out about the earthquake was when my brother called us and told me on the phone. I tried calling my home in San Bruno on the San Francisco Peninsula and got no answer from the man I was married to at that time. I started to panic. I kept calling, but no answer. So, I called my sister in Portland and asked her to come and get me – I needed to be in contact with what was going on.

She made the hour and a half trip, picked me up, and drove me back to her townhouse in Portland. I kept calling home but no answer. We cracked open a bottle of wine, watched the news, and kept calling. No answer. When we finished the bottle of wine, we walked over to Albertson’s to pick up another bottle.

The news media made it sound as if the entire Bay Area was destroyed. But, sometime during that second bottle of wine, it began to occur to us – they kept showing the same places: The Bay Bridge, North Beach, the Nimitz Freeway, and Santa Cruz, where the epicenter was. This was probably about 2 a.m. and we’d finished the wine. So, I stopped calling and we went to bed to sleep for a few hours. At about 5 or 6 a.m., I called again and the phone picked up – calls were finally going through. And I discovered that everything was okay.

Rich and I didn’t know each other back then and he has his own experience to share about cats hiding, things falling onto the floor and his power going out. His parents couldn’t reach him until about 5 in the morning. All was well, and then Rich went to work. But, scary it was. He thought about leaving the Bay Area then and perhaps moving to the Boston area, where his parents were then living. But then we wouldn’t have met. 😦

When Rich and I moved to Florida, naturally, we lived there during those 2 really active hurricane summers. When the first one, Hurricane Charley, was expected to go right up Tampa Bay, the water softener guy was installing our water softener system and freaked me out because he said our 9-foot sliders would shatter. This was our first hurricane experience and we didn’t know what to do. We watched the neigbhors – were they boarding the windows? A few did but most did not. Thankfully, for us, the hurricane changed directions and we were spared.

Several hurricanes later, one actually flew over our house. We sat in bed and Rich took his Florida boating exam on the laptop. We never lost power, although the house next door all the way to the end of the street did. We were especially thankful we were spared once again, especially since we have 3 furry kids. We lost a couple of palm fronds and a couple of trees snapped behind our house, but we were lucky! When the house inspector inspected the house when we sold it, he praised the workmanship of the roof – Lennar had exceeded the code several times over (in the pic of our house, the house to the right lost their power).

While living in Orlando, there were no more hurricanes, but there were tornadoes just north of us. We began to be aware that Florida doesn’t just have hurricanes, but also tornadoes. And where do you hide? No basements or shelters there – other than your bathtub. There was even an earthquake in Florida when we lived there. It seems there’s no escaping natural disasters!

When we moved back west, we thought we were finished with hurricanes. Surprise, surprise. When we went to Kauai in 2009 to celebrate Rich’s special birthday, guess what? We sat there on the island and a hurricane zipped right past us. No wonder we felt like we were back in Florida when we were in Hawaii. And the hurricane season has been far more active in the Pacific than the Atlantic while we’ve been back.

So here’s a warning, Floridians – Should we move back to Florida, you just know the hurricanes will be back – lol!

On a more serious note, my prayers are for those affected by these deadly tornadoes. I wish you all safety!

About Kathy

Novelist & Music Producer