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[RC] Hurricane Charley - Debbie Parsons

I too survived this storm but not with some anxious moments while watching the projected path move back and forth from the coastline to inland where I live 50 miles from the Pinellas County coastline. I’m about 30 miles from Tampa Bay itself. In the end, I got a little wind and some rain on my already saturated ground but I’m very thankful that is all I got. I’ve been complaining about the wet ground for the last few weeks but complaining now seems petty considering the losses that many have incurred. My parents recently moved from 10 miles west of me to about 35 miles east. Their home was only a few miles from the eye of the storm. They were lucky and didn’t get much damage but most of the homes in their neighborhood are damaged and some are no longer there.

My plan was to turn out my horses into 2 areas of my 8 acres that were as far away from the homes as possible and hope that they could dodge any debris. My older barn has been standing for about 25 years and weathered a bunch of severe thunderstorms and even the 1993 March “No Name” storm. My new 5 month old barn addition is suppose to be able to handle wind to a certain speed governed by the codes that changed after Hurricane Andrew but I still wasn’t willing to test it. I wrote my contact info on surveyor’s tape and braided the tape into the horses’ manes and tails. Each horse had 3 such tags. On Thursday while picking up horse feed I ran into a man who had bought a bunch of old men’s belts from Goodwill and was getting brass tags put on the belts with his info. He was going to put the belts around his horses’ necks so they’d have ID and could be caught with the straps. And because they were old people belts, they would give should the horse get caught on something. I thought that was a good idea for the future.

And yes, had things gotten bad, I was prepared to bring my mare and her 3 month old filly into my laundry room! It’s situated in about the center of my home and I felt it would withstand the storm. I was concerned about a young horse being out in a storm with debris blowing around. I worried about her getting hit by something that a larger horse could survive but could kill or seriously injure her. Now after seeing some of the pictures of the damage on houses similar to mine I wonder how well this house would stand up. With this particular storm there really was nowhere to even run to if you lived in the Florida peninsula. It’s a horrible feeling to watch a storm like this head your way and you can’t do anything to change what is about to happen.

Should we get another storm heading this way, I’m going to ask my neighbor who has about 100 acres if I can turn my horses out on her property. She has good fence and wide open spaces. I have 3 mobile homes and one house bordering the east side of my 5 main acres. Two did a good job of securing loose objects and the other two didn’t. Unfortunately the 2 that didn’t do much have backyards that directly open into my pasture.

I’m just happy I didn’t have to test that laundry room stall. It’s back to serving its original purpose and is also much cleaner since I figured I could do a good cleaning before I started putting everything back in it. And I just thought of something . . . the washer could have made a handy water trough!


Debbie Parsons

Plant City, FL