It was 15 years ago today (9/26/04) that Hurricane Jeanne made landfall near Stuart with winds measured at 121 miles per hour (Category 3). It was the 3rd hurricane to travel across Central Florida in 6 weeks on the heels of Hurricanes Charley and Frances.
Jeanne was remarkable, in and of itself, causing three direct deaths in our state and dropping nearly a foot of rain in parts of Central Florida. But considering it arrived right behind two other powerful hurricanes, across essentially the same areas, it packed even more of a painful punch.
The death toll in Haiti was more than 3,000, including nearly 2,900 in just one coastal city (Gonaives). Another 200,000 people in Haiti lost their homes, belongings and livelihoods.
After the devastation in Haiti, Jeanne slowly pushed northward and then moved in a giant loop for six days before finally heading west toward Florida. Once it started moving away from cooler water, it began to intensify.
On a personal note, I was quite distracted by the time Jeanne arrived. I had worked a lot of extra hours the previous 6 weeks, and was 9 months pregnant with my first baby. Right as Jeanne was looping back toward Florida, my daughter arrived. I watched from my hospital window as sheets of plywood flew off the building under construction next door. Orlando was on lock down- which meant no one could leave the hospital. I was “trapped” with nurses and doctors, electricity, a shower, plenty of Jello, round-the-clock care… and a brand new baby!
I was nervous about delivering my first child during a hurricane, but it turns out, the hospital was the best place to be!
Today, 15 years later, my daughter is in 10th grade and ready to get her driver’s permit. No, I didn’t name her Jeanne.
At the time I thought that season would never end. Now I can’t believe it’s been 15 years.