On Friday, August 26, 2005, hurricane Katrina hit Fort Lauderdale--on Monday, October 24, 2005, hurricane Wilma paid us a visit. I have a big tree out my back window that hides every bit of water that is a few feet behind it. Katrina had broken a few limbs and took off many leaves and then Wilma came along and completely shredded the tree and there was talk of it being cut down and removed but it seems the price was too high so it was left to do what it could. In a way I really couldn't complain as I had a complete view of the canal and could see the boats going through to the bay and then the ocean. I, also, could see the million dollar homes across the canal, including the TV that was so huge I could watch programs on it from my apartment! It took 3 years for the tree to not only get back to where it was but become thicker, bigger, wider and more beautiful.
During Katrina the Gateway administration did a super job of taking care of the residents who stayed behind for one reason or another. They supplied water, food, a generator to show movies on the breezeway. We didn't have electricity until the next day and all in all recovered with very little damage to the property. It was another story with Wilma.
We were lucky with Wilma in the sense that the evenings were cool which helped a lot as the electricity was off for a week. The phones were down for a day and there was a 'boil water' directive for 5 days. Gateway once again came through including using their bus to take us shopping as soon as the stores opened up. Most of us were prepared for hurricanes with bottled water, jars of food plus cans of tuna, chicken and salmon, though a few people didn't have hand can openers!! Gateway supplied us with hot dinners a couple of times and the first two days made the bbq grill available for those who had food in their freezer. Everyone helped everyone which lasted a little past the week! I heard from my sister-in-law, Ladye, Mel, Chuck, Robert from New Jersey and a couple of people I hadn't heard from in years.
The Gateway and Galleria theatres were closed and the latter never opened. Many stores and gas stations had generators installed. Wilma went back and forth between being a #2 and #3 hurricane and caused widespread destruction of critical infrastructure, including power, water and sewer systems. There was significant damage in downtown Fort Lauderdale to older buildings, including the Broward County Courthouse, School Board Building, taller area office buildings built before the implementation of stricter building codes after hurricane Andrew The glass facades in a number of downtown buildings, notably the Templeton Building, were sheared off by high winds. All in all the cost in South Florida came to about $17 billion but, once again, Gateway was spared major damage with a few windows knocked out, a few tree branches falling on the cars that had stayed during the storm. Two days before Wilma hit David, the Gateway administrator, arranged with the Galleria Mall to allow Gateway residents with cars to park them there in the under cover garage and the bus brought them back. As I mentioned the tree behind my house was completely bare and had lost most of its branches but it would come back better than ever.
I don't want to say anything, even if I am not superstitious, but it has been 8 years since Wilma and we haven't had a hurricane hit us---yet!- since then, but being in hurricane season now all we can do is hope we can make it 9 years!