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Dee McLelland: Hoping for a safe season
Dee McLelland new

Hurricane season has long been a part of my life as it has seemed most of my professional career has been spent working with newspapers that are right along the dreaded “hurricane alleys” we have in America.

I have also found that hurricanes aren’t that scary once you get past your third or fourth Bloody Mary, if mixed properly.

I say that in jest somewhat, but we have found over the years that hurricanes are as much a part of life as rain and sunshine when living in the South.

My wife and I often recount the story of travelling to Key West in 2005. We had been assured by the resort where we were going to stay that Katrina was moving up the east coast and they weren’t making in precautions. If course that was all “resort speak” because as we travelled through Miami that fateful night Katrina put on its left blinker and shot across the southern tip of Florida.

Deborah often points out that she thinks the storm looked down and said, “There’s old Dee and Deb, I think I’ll say Hey!”

We really had no idea the storm was coming and soon found ourselves in darkened streets avoiding awnings and tree limbs. Electricity was out and transformers were blowing up around us. I tried my best to get us turned around, but we spent the better part of an hour rushing to and fro trying to find our way back to the interstate. It’s also worth mentioning we were in my soft top Jeep which is probably not the best vehicle to be driving through a hurricane, but it was what we had to work with.

Suddenly, there was a bright glowing light in the distance, totally illuminated there seemed to be a place of some safety so we headed as best we could towards it.

Now, Deb claims she knows what heaven must look like, because the Miccosukee Gaming Resort was right there in front of us, all lit up and ready. We couldn’t risk getting out of the Jeep at the time with the winds howling and stop signs and light poles coming down, so we just ducked down and rode it out.

We were lucky that night, mainly because we were safe and had a place to stay, but later the storm would claim lives throughout the South, mainly in New Orleans and Texas. New Orleans is our adopted second hometown as we are huge Saints fans and it would make our beloved team have to play an entire season on the road that year.

We also have endured many hurricanes over the years and have watched trees and building debris fly all around and have even provided shelter for friends escaping storms. We have been lucky as I have said. Hurricane Michael which came through a short time ago missed our home in Florida by a scant 30 miles and caused massive damage to the east of us.

We battened down a few things this past weekend back in Florida with two storms currently in the Gulf, but again feel lucky that it seems we have missed more of the direct impact. I know in Georgia so far we have been extremely lucky, but we also know things could change any moment.

I find some solace in the fact the upcoming names for some of the hurricanes don’t seem that imposing. If we get a few more storms we will have names like Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy and Vicky.

Of course Katrina didn’t sound like a frightening name, but it turned out it was one of the most dangerous of all. Like I said, we have been lucky. Here’s to us having a safe “season” this year.

Dee McLelland is the Publisher of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News.

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