Emotional scars linger on anniversary of Hurricane Charley
Fort Meade, Florida -- A decade ago today on Friday the 13th, the eye of the storm passed right over Fort Meade and though the damage has long since been repaired the Category 4 storm remains fresh in a lot of people's memories.
Many of the 6,000 people in this historic town still remember watching the track of Hurricane Charley on TV. Priscilla Perry is one of them. She says, "Everyone was saying poor Tampa. Poor West Coast."
Pastor Bill Whitener remembers too. He says, "We kept watching the news and all of a sudden it took a right turn in Punta Gorda."
Perry lives on a farm with her husband and remembers it was a beautiful sunny day. She pulled out the riding lawn mower and did yard work without a worry in the world until she received an urgent phone call. She says, "My daughter called from South Carolina and she said you need to get out of there and I said no we're going to stay."
Whitener adds, "About six o'clock that's when it hit Fort Meade and it was just like unbelievable I had never seen anything like it."
Juanita Baker remembers the damage left behind as if it had happened yesterday. She says, "It knocked off roofs. We had a lot of flooding - a lot of trees down."
Whitener adds, "As waves of the storm would come through big oak trees across the street would just go violent the limbs just twisting and turning."
ANOTHER ONE:Could we take another Charley?
Perry says, "And all of a sudden the phone cuts off - and the power cuts off. Being alone and not having any communication - that was a terrifying experience because know you don't know what's coming at you. All of a sudden we started hearing glass break. I mean trees were down everywhere ... on top of the house, in the yard. You couldn't get in. Live wires were down. It was something else."
Perry's three grandsons were visiting them at the time. She says, "I have a grandson who was five - for years after that when he would hear a thunderstorm in the distance - he'd say is that a hurricane? Is that coming here? It was traumatic for everyone. Our house was really damaged. It ended up we were without power for 21 days."
Residents of Fort Meade recall the day Charley turned toward the coat and headed inland.
Survivors say they have learned not to take any storm for granted.
Perry adds, "You pay attention and you are glad that you had put away a few cans of food - that you did have some batteries - that you did have matches and candles and things like that."
Hurricane Charley left 10 people dead and and caused $15 billion in damage.
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