The term “black swan” is a metaphor describing a major event which is a surprise and unanticipated, yet has very far-reaching consequences. That is what we had in the panhandle of Florida and across rural South Georgia two weeks ago. Margaret and I were in Oxford, MS visiting our niece at Ole Miss when I first saw the email from the weather channel with the dreaded red hurricane cone headed thru our front door by week's end. At that moment the storm was very unorganized and I cautiously dismissed it as I popped another cold beverage with all the Rebel fans in The Grove. By Wednesday it was rocking our world down here in the Gulf and changed the landscape and many lifestyles forever. We knew the storm was coming but the intensity and damage in some areas really are not something you can imagine. We were very lucky and blessed that we did not sustain any major damage at home or at the beach, but just 30 miles west of us got hit hard …very hard. Sure we had no power for a week, no internet for 10 days, trees down and a huge mess to clean up, but that’s just a way of life for us down here when these storms come to visit.
Our small piece of heaven along the Gulf is referred to as “The Forgotten Coast”. It still has an old Florida feel about it with it's small coastal communities and weekend cottages found along Hwy 98. Of course there have been some changes and development over the years, but it is still quiet and a simple way of life along this part of the coast. The rest of the Florida Panhandle inland and into South Georgia is mostly very rural where you will find a small town about every 30 miles or so. Between them the two lane roads take you through tall pine forests, cypress swamps, cattle farms, peanut fields and pecan groves. You can smell the mud at low tide and the cotton blooming in the fall. It is a beautiful part of the world and a place we call home.
Since the storm, so many of these small communities are in a daze, still wondering what happened and how they are going to start all over again. Everyone will be cleaning up and digging out for a while, but I am touched by the support our community (Tallahassee) is showing to our friends to the west of us from the fragile coastal towns to the pecan and cotton farmer scattered through South Georgia. Fuel and essential supplies are running up and down I-10 and Hwy 319 by the common person with a car and a trailer. FEMA tent cities have popped up everywhere and we are on our way to recovery, which for some will be along while, if at all.
To help this cause, we designed a t-shirt: “The Forgotten Coast... Forgotten but not lost” where 100% of the profits made from the sale are going to help our friends to the west of us, both along the coast and inland into South Georgia.
Panhandle Strong. Wm