Thursday, August 28, 2008

After flight, back in Brevard and ready for hurricane

I flew over an old home yesterday: Long Island. The photo shows the middle of the island, with Great South Bay at the bottom of the image. I could see the skyscrapers of New York City in the distance and the huge ships chugging toward the harbor. We then flew parallel to the Jersey Shore for a while. It was a spectacular.

I tell everyone here in Brevard County, Fla., that I'm disappointed that I missed Tropical Storm Fay's 27 inches of rain and that I want to see a big storm for myself. They look at me like I'm crazy.

But the tropics are really kicking into gear, with Tropical Storm Gustav heading into the Gulf of Mexico and Hanna, which may come closer to Florida, to the northeast of it.

Though I missed the storm, there are many obvious effects of Fay that are still visible. After flying into Sanford, just north of Orlando, and seeing the waterlogged region from above, I crossed a bridge over Lake Jesup, the alligator haven. The homes along the shore were still surrounded by water.

And it's a good thing I didn't use State Road 46 to get back to Melbourne because that's flooded, too, and quite impassable.

I did, however, take Interstate 95 just as a strong thunderstorm hit. The clouds dumped about 4 inches of standing water into the left-hand lane of the highway. As people passed me, they sprayed water onto my car, reducing visibility to zero. I almost crashed.

I managed to keep my car on the road, but a delivery truck driver wasn't as fortunate. He lost control and drove his truck into the flooded swampy area along I-95. About one-quarter of the truck was underwater as I drove by the scene.

My house is fine, of course. The water came close but didn't enter it. My mail, which probably wasn't extracted from the box until yesterday when my former roommate came by, was soaked.

The most noticeable effect of Fay, which caused $60 million in damage in Brevard, is that it is extremely humid here now, more so than I have ever experienced. The ground is saturated with water. Really, everything is just wet.

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