Cassi Creek: Things have a way of looping when we aren’t watching.
In 2001, as most of the nation watched the round the clock coverage of the Pentagon/WTC attacks, we were keeping eyes and ears directed toward the Gulf of Mexico. Un-noticed by the media busily covering and recovering every aspect of the attacks that could be reported or speculated upon, Tropical Storm Gabrielle acquired a name and a probable course.
We lived in Palmetto, FL at the time. I spent more time monitoring the storm than I did the endless media coverage. What would have been a major news event from 11 September to 14 September was largely ignored by the major networks and other media. While the plan for those who can afford the expense was normally to hire someone to shutter their houses and condos and to book a flight out of the strike zone, there was no available air transport. The full ground stop declared after the attacks trapped the wealthy along with the populace who had to ride the storm out in the homes they occupied year round.
Gabrielle was forecast to carry immense quantities of rain as it headed for the Florida coast and interacted with a decaying cold front. Impact was predicted to be between Venice and Tampa Bay. Anticipating power loss, I lowered the pool ten inches to avoid flooding from the pool into the house.
In the 14 years we lived in Florida, we were extremely fortunate. We never lost power for more than 5 hours, and never lost landline telephone service or cable. Gabrielle did take the power down for about 5 hours. But the rainfall, which totaled 15 inches in nearby Parrish, filled the pool back to the very top edges. My decision to lower it while we could paid off.
Elsewhere, 700,000 people lost power. Some of our friends were without power for as long as two weeks. The storm, which came ashore with winds of 74 MPH, the upper limit for a tropical storm, left tremendous damage to trees and utility lines. Our property was not damaged by wind or water. By evening we were done with cleanup, showered, fed, and caught up on news and social contacts. Gabrielle became a hurricane and made 2nd landfall in Newfoundland. Outside of Florida, almost no one knew much about or cared about the storm and its aftermath.
Today, 11 September 2013, as the media blankets the airways with coverage of the anniversary of the attacks, there is a tropical storm bearing down on Newfoundland. Ironically, this storm is named Gabrielle. Not unexpectedly, as it doesn’t threaten the US, it has received next to no coverage in US media. It very much feels like a loop back in time.