Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Urban Renewal by Disaster"

2004...August...Friday the 13th...4:27 p.m...150 mph Hurricane Charley makes landfall.

This all took place before we moved here. We have been through tropical storms and a hurricane before, but never a category 4 hurricane, thank God.

Four people lost their lives during the storm and ten more died later due to effects of its aftermath.

Charley left 3.2 billion dollars in damages throughout the county in its wake.

(I took this picture in February of 2002 when President Bush visited the Air Force Base where we were stationed. That was very exciting!)

President George W. Bush called the region a Federal Disaster Area. Florida Governor Jeb Bush visited the area many times after the storm.

Jeb Bush was back in town today at the 5-year, post-hurricane celebration. There has been much rebuilding and urban renewal around town since Hurricane Charley.

My husband and I went to the celebration. I wanted to be able to get close enough to get some pictures of Jeb. I did.

I was able to get some close shots of him as he was stopping to speak to some of the people gathered around him. He was very friendly and genuine. I heard him say that people are always telling him, "You look taller and thinner in person". (I must admit I thought that too). He stopped and talked to many, hugged a few, signed autographs and gave photo ops. I was hovering around him, snapping off shots (I felt a bit like Paparazzi and he probably felt I was a stalker). I shook his hand and told him thanks for his service and that I had loved his brother as president. He said thank you and I could see the sincere thanks in his eyes. I hovered around some more before asking him if I could have my picture taken with him, he obliged me.

This all took place before his official introduction and speech and the speeches given by local and other visiting dignitaries. The skies were a bit overcast by the time the introductions started. The Mayor spoke. He ran through a long list of introductions and thanks for all who helped during, after and since the hurricane. The Chair of the County Commission spoke, the Attorney General spoke, the Lt. Governor each spoke the clouds grew a little darker and the threat of rain grew greater. The Mayor got back on the mic and was beginning a lengthy introduction for Former Governor Bush when Jeb gave the "wrap it up" sign and walked up to the Mayor. The wind had picked up a bit by this time as well as a couple of drops of rain.

After taking the microphone Jeb joked saying, "Whenever the wind gets over 20 miles per hour, I start twitching." He did not speak long because of the looming storm. When he was done speaking he came to the edge of the stage and shook hands and finally jumped down from the stage into the crowd (kind of like a rock star) and continued to shake hands, give hugs and autographs between raindrops. My husband was able to shake his hand then.

The rain was not heavy and did not last long. Too bad Jeb could not have stayed longer and spoken a little more, but that is the way it is in Florida during hurricane season, you always keep an eye to the skies and let the wind blow you where it may.

(My husband's picture and my picture were in the next day's paper. We were in the crowd shots. The pictures were on the front page of the national section as well as on the front page of the local section)


  1. Way cool! I am glad you were able to shake his hand and thank him for his and his brother's service.

  2. sis, you are now in the "public eye". Way too cool. #2 sis