Hurricane Wilma: Wilma
Sunday October 23 is the predicted ETA for Wilma, later for the rest of Florida. The wind is gradually picking up and late in the afternoon it begins to rain. I defrost and cook the last of the fish I caught last weekend. But still not hungry. Save it for later.
By nightfall we know that we are in for a blow. The windowpanes on the houseboat are banging and clattering, and have been for several hours, despite my attempts to muffle them. The electrical power goes out, then the telephone and cable service, and finally a loss of water pressure.
Rainwater seeps in through the sliding glass doors on the upper deck. I didnít board up any of the windows. The round side windows, made from Plexiglas, are designed for such weather as this. The sliding glass doors are supposed to give, not break, in strong winds. Thus, the leak.
By now the wind is howling. The entire houseboat is rocking and rolling, bouncing from one piling to the other. Things begin to fall. I place the large TV on the floor before it falls. I go up and down the stairway, checking both decks and the lines as best as I can. The wind is so strong that when I go to open the upper level door, I get blown with the door up against the side of the boat. Now I have a large contusion on my left hip to go with the pain in my lower back on the right side. Later I try to sleep, but canít lie down!
The jolting gets worse. From the upper level I can see that the wind is blowing the tires hanging from the pilings away from the pilings. The houseboat now has no cushion; she is banging directly against the pilings. Fighting wind and rain, I go down in the dark to secure the tires to the pilings and add one that I had in reserve. I move down to the lower deck where it is not so noisy, not so topsy-turvy.
Then a loud bang and the strongest jolt so far. I see that the Rejoyce and the adjacent floating home have bumped. I am able to adjust my spring line from the forward deck, but cannot get off the boat to adjust the neighborís. But this adjustment works.
The Rejoyce lies bow to north, stern to south. Initially, the wind was out of the southeast, then from the south, southwest and finally from the west as Wilma approached and past Key West. This means that the stern of the boat took the most wind. The center of the storm was to pass about 80 miles to the north, but the eye has a 70-mile radius. The strongest winds are always on the right side of a hurricane, which is where Key West is. How strong were the winds? I donít know. Key West was in the 75 mph band. Maybe that is what they were, but others reported stronger gusts. The Dry Tortugus, 70 miles to the west, reported 120 mile per hours winds.
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