Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hurricane Eloise, September 23, 1975

Hurricane Eloise, September 22
The recent news about the very destructive hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific this year have caused me to think about the one severe hurricane I was in.  Although it seems relatively small compared to the sizes of hurricanes nowadays, Hurricane Eloise was the most destructive of the 1975 Atlantic hurricane season, at least according to Wikipedia, and the name is on the retired list.  Today is the 43rd anniversary of it making landfall in Florida.

As with all hurricanes, you "watch" for the "warning."  This means that the hurricane watch comes first, when they start telling everyone in the area that you need to start making your preparations to leave in case the hurricane stays on its current path.  The hurricane warning is issued when the hurricane is actually expected to hit the area.

At the time of Eloise, my family lived in Villa Tasso, Florida, a small unincorporated community (maybe 200 people?) in Walton County, on the county line with Oklaoosa County.  Villa Tasso is right on the water, on Choctawhatchee Bay.  Being close to shore during a hurricane usually means more destruction due to storm surges.

When they issued the hurricane warning for Eloise, my parents decided we would not leave the area.  We did evacuate our home in Villa Tasso, which was two mobile homes connected together (because everyone knows that God hates mobile homes), but we went to stay in my father's garage in nearby Niceville (in Oklaoosa County), which was built of stone and had a very high probability of surviving the predicted storm.  It also was not as close to the water.

For three days my family of five (father, mother, brother, sister, and me) and my father's business partner were stuck in that building, with the business partner's two Doberman guard dogs locked in a room in the back.  The building was a great place to ride out the storm and took no damage.  My mother was talking on the phone during our stay and was zapped by lightning on the line.

When the rains finally let up, we drove back to Villa Tasso to see what had happened to our poor mobile homes.  Several trees on our property had been knocked down by the hurricane, but, amazingly, only one had actually hit a trailer.  Even at that, all it did was scrape the edge of the roof and land on the porch.  Our home had survived the storm!

After going through just one hurricane, I decided I didn't want to do that ever again, so when I graduated high school I chose to move back to the West Coast, where all we have to deal with is earthquakes!

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