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The house and other structures at my sister Lynne’s place in Panacea, Florida made it through the storm unscathed.

She said the only real damage was a big tree that fell in the yard.

Unfortunately, nearby places did not fare so well when Hurricane Michael hit on Wednesday. “Down the coast a ways, it is really bad,” she said. “Buildings were blown away.”

As long as anyone can remember, her place has never flooded. It’s on a piece of land that’s higher, by about four feet, than the surrounding landscapes.

She didn’t ride the storm out there, anyway. She took her dogs and her cat and herself inland, to the home of friends.

Our family has been through lots of hurricanes and we have a healthy respect for each and every one of them.

Even up here in New York, when we look at a piece of land we instinctively check to see that it has safe high ground and good drainage.

I’m betting my sister doesn’t have power for a good long time. Her place is a bit remote, on the other edge of the Apalachicola State Forest from Mexico Beach, where the hurricane made landfall.

I’ll find out more later, but it seems the whole region got fairly well hammered.

Fortunately, a hurricane’s wrath is not as widespread as is generally believed. Andrew hit areas south of Miami near Homestead with devastating ferocity, but less than 30 miles north in Miami Beach I heard TV reporters from the big networks saying it didn’t look so bad.

The problem is they didn’t draw the obvious conclusion when they said, “but we still haven’t heard from some areas south.” No reports come out of cut-off areas.

It is amazing, though, how resilient we humans are. You can look at the immediate damage from horrible storms and other natural disasters and think, this will never be fixed. Somehow, though, within a few years you can hardly tell what happened before.

In Florida, there are very few old timers who haven’t had to cook on something like the Coleman camp stove for a few weeks at a time.

When I was a kid we didn’t even notice the change in routine. The storm was one day. The next day was sunny and beautiful. So what if the evening light was a lantern instead of a light bulb.

The difference was most of the new houses being built 50 or 60 years ago in south Florida were made, by code, of concrete block with low-slung, reinforced roofing. Plus, there were fewer people. The older houses were almost always good, solid yellow pine, built in the old Florida style.

It was only later that codes were relaxed or ignored, and houses were allowed to be made with plywood and staples.

I believe after Hurricane Andrew, a lot of municipalities revisited the changes they had made which led to such extreme damage, not just from water, but from the wind.

Anyway, I’m relieved to report that my sister’s place made it through the storm, and that she and her critters are well.

I’ll have to wait until another time to tell the Hadley story of the ducks exchanging sleeping quarters with the roosters, and the difficulties that ensued. But, some news is more important than other news.

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Forrest Hartley has lived in Hadley for more than 30 years, yet remains a Floridan at heart. You can leave him a message at


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