Friday’s question: Does it ever stop?
I didn’t make it to Crystal River on Thursday though I really wanted to. Not to gawk or see something I had not before seen.
Just wanted to be there in our neighbor’s time of need.
Seems like our neighbor’s time of need is an ongoing effort these days. Folks in Crystal River and Ozello…I can’t even imagine what that’s like for you today. Just six weeks removed from a hurricane flood that brought memories of this county’s worst storms, and a tornado drops down in the middle of the night.
That there were no reported deaths or serious injuries is miraculous considering the damage to homes. That’s likely a result of Alert Citrus, which woke us up at 2 in the morning Thursday with news of a tornado warning.
These things usually scare the bejesus out of me but for some reason, it didn’t this time. Maybe it’s part of moving, I don’t know. I lay awake and watched the sky light up above Big Lake Henderson.
When morning came and we learned of the destruction in Crystal River, well, it’s just devastating news. How much can one community take?
Mayor Joe Meek — now THERE’S a leader — took to Facebook for videos and photos so that folks would know what’s going on. The Chronicle’s Matt Beck provided videos and photos as well. And the county's Facebook page has excellent drone views.
It all told the same story: Destruction in a town still recovering from a flood six weeks ago.
I’d normally be right in the middle of that. But with the move and shutting down the old house, it just wasn’t possible.
I ended up covering the story by phone and computer, which is great if the story is halfway around the world but not great when it’s 20 miles away.
I don’t like the feeling of separation. When Crystal River has a tornado rip through it and all I can do is report from afar, well, it feels a little icky. While I live in Inverness, all of Citrus County is my community. And it’s yours.
I want to use my blog in whatever way Mayor Meek and the Crystal River folks believe is most helpful. That doesn’t make me special. If anything, I only follow what so many others do every day.
So this is my best for today, Crystal River. I just want to encourage you because you’re showing the rest of us what to do under strife.
Crystal River is our city on the bay and everyone knows it is prone to floods under the right circumstances. I spoke with many who were displaced after Hurricane Idalia, asking basically why they do it. Why live in a place that is so susceptible to disaster?
To a person, each said the same thing: That’s the way it is. Living in Crystal River is such a joy, they say, that taking a chance on flooding is worth it.
And now a middle-of-the-night tornado has Crystal River residents on their heels once again, cleaning up after another Mother Nature mess.
I asked Mayor Meek about the city’s psyche. At what point do folks throw up their hands and say, “Enough!”
He acknowledged folks are pretty much over the weather. He also said it's a resilient city, one used to occasional upheaval.
This is what he said:
“Crystal River understands and deals with natural disasters. I know folks are over it. They feel they’re just getting a double whammy right now and they need a break. My prayers are with our citizens and businesses.”
We share those prayers, Mayor Meek. Your city could use a breather.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.