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25 Years since Hurricane Andrew, and the Memories are Still Fresh

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Posted: Friday, August 25, 2017 12:45 am

   It had been a hard week of work since my wife, with our three children; my sister-in-law and her two kids were in Orlando at Disneyland.  Not tuned in on the news, I had no knowledge of what laid in store as I headed to join them that Saturday.  Sunday morning found us eating breakfast with Mickey in the Contemporary Hotel when my sister-in-law received a call from her husband telling her to get home.

  There was no panic on our part until we hit West Palm Beach.  No one was collecting tolls as we headed south and the traffic going north was bumper to bumper.  All I could think about was “it’s an over-reaction,” remembering hurricanes in my youth when we played tackle football after each storm in the mini floods in our yard. 

   Arriving home by late afternoon, we buckled down a few things and moved my parents into our house across the street.  We had crime bars on the windows but they didn’t, but that’s another story.  Don’t know the exact time that the winds began to howl but soon after a piece of cast iron smashed our front window sending us scurrying to another section of the house. 

    First we were hit from the north as the storm pelted our house with sections of the fish farm and the home from across the street.  There was a couple of minute pause in the winds, then we were hit from the east. 

   We spent the balance of the storm in the southwest corner of the house continuously feeling the floor rising up and down above the crawl space.  For a second, I thought about Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  We all survived without injury, hiding under mattresses, as we assured the

children, with doubt in our voices, that everything would be okay.

  Finally it stopped and the Marraccini family fell asleep for several hours on the floor after giving thanks for survival.  The next morning I looked out the back window towards my 320 avocado trees.  My response was “Holy crap they’re gone.”

   Making my way outside the yard had dozens of spear-like splinters from my parents roof decking.  Their front doors were blown open and every window was broken with pieces of roof tile embedded in the walls. The tile roof was scattered all over the yard like a massive puzzle just dumped out of a box. 

   Without electric power for eight weeks, the tropical fish farm dried completely with a 100% kill.  Truck containers crushed several four-inch thick concrete walls of several ponds.  All of the over 400 native pine trees on the 10 acres would die leaving a massive chain saw project.

   Like so many others who viewed tremendous losses there was a moment of mental anguish, followed by a short pause, then sleeves were rolled up and months of reconstruction began.

  Thankfully, help would arrive from family, friends and customers.  But to my amazement, several fish farmers that we barely knew showed up with chain saws in hand.  Now that’s what life if all about, people pitching in to help others in need!

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