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A Special Moment In Time: “Wait’ll We Get The Big One!”


By Seth H. Bramson

As I noted in my last column, there are no few front running phonies, dumb clucks, muppets, minkees, mutts, marooks and out and out MO-rons who love to tell us to “just wait’ll we get ‘the big one,’!” and as was mentioned, my reply, although not necessarily in these words, is usually, “hey, stoopid, we’ve already had “the big one” many times over and we don’t need any more of them to do any more damage or wreak any more havoc on our fragile (now VERY fragile) ecosystem and environment.

There are, dear friends and readers, records of hurricanes destroying Spanish fleets in the late 1500s and doing no small amount of damage through the centuries. However, because this is not meant to be a complete record of Atlantic hurricanes which have brutalized this state, we will limit our discussion to the Southeast Florida coast from the Palm Beaches down to the Keys, and that, as you will find, is well more than enough for us to realize that, over and over again, time after time, we have been visited by and had huge amounts of damage inflicted upon us by the cataclysmic cyclones of the Atlantic, the Caribbean hurricanes.

For our purposes it is probably best that we focus on the 20th and 21st century’s “storms of the century,” the big one(s) which, indeed, we have suffered through many times.

For us, then, it begins with the 1906 hurricane which raged through the Florida Keys and killed well over 200 employees of the F E C Railway who were working on the construction of the Key West Extension. Advised to stay on the quarterboats (those were not a quarter of a boat; they were the living quarters for the employees working on the Extension) several of them were torn from their moorings by the storm and swept out to sea, most of the occupants drowning as the boats capsized in the Atlantic or the Gulf. It was an expensive lesson for the railroad to learn but others were killed in that storm, also.

The Keys were hit twice more by large storms before the Extension was completed in 1916, in 1909 and 1910, but the losses of life were substantially lessened because of the occurrences in the ’06 hurricane. The next storm of major consequence was not in the Keys, but, rather, was the vicious September 17 and 18, 1926 storm which ripped into a totally unprepared Miami and part of South Broward in a manner that nobody could have predicted given the lack—at that time–of hurricane tracking equipment which might have been of some help in preparing the area for that brutal blow.

We have already discussed that storm in this column but suffice to say that with winds hitting 150 miles per hour and with nobody ready for anything near that ferocious, the results were, at best, shocking, with over 400 people killed during the storm. Many of those, incidentally, died after surviving the first part of the hurricane and then, with the eye directly over Miami, the sun out and the birds chirping, came out to examine the damage, not realizing that the eye would soon pass and the other side of the storm with hit with a ferocity which nobody was either expecting or prepared for.

It would be nine years before the next “big one,” but that one wasn’t just big, it was godawful. That storm, the September 2nd, 1935 Labor Day hurricane was unlike anything anybody could have even imagined. Only the 1900 Galveston hurricane, which caused the deaths of 10,000 people, was worse in terms of body count.

The 1935 hurricane had the lowest barometer readings ever recorded in an Atlantic hurricane and the wind gauges at the Long Key Fishing Camp blew away with sustained winds of 175 miles per hours. There were regular gusts of up to 225 MPH and it was the tidal wave caused by one of those which turned the rescue train on Matecume Key on its side except for the massive steam locomotive, which remained upright. In that storm over 800 people were killed, yet we still have idiots who are telling us to “wait until we get hit by the big one!”

Not enough yet? A second hurricane blasted Miami in 1935, on November 4th and it was that storm that took out the trolley poles and trolley wire in Coral Gables, dooming Mr. Merrick’s far-sighted vision of having two streetcar lines in place to bring people from downtown Miami to the City Beautiful. The city, near bankruptcy and without a strong flow of cash at the time, simply called it quits and the Coral Gables Rapid Transit Company became part of Miami’s history.

The hurricanes of 1947, 1950, several in the ‘50s, Donna in 1960 and those in ’64 and ’65 were “the big one” but the next brutal attack would occur with the infamous Hurricane Andrew. It wasn’t, as some may remember, a torrential downpour that caused the damage, but, rather, a wind event which took everybody by surprise. Fortunately, the death toll was nowhere near what it had been in 1926 or 1935 but the property damage rose into the billions of dollars and even here, in Northeast Dade (Miami Shores), well north of the storm’s center in Homestead and the Redland, power was not restored for 21 ½ days.

Twenty one and a half days? Holy you know what! And the worst of that? The NONSENSE from the head honchos at F P & L (Florida Plunder & Loot) telling us that “Oh, we’ve learned so much from this storm!” Why, you incompetent SOB’s. What are you, Portland Electric Power Company or Seattle Power and Light? We’ve been having hurricanes since the predecessor of that incompetent company has been the power company here, now for more than 100 years, and those phony balonies are just now “learning so much?!!” Horse manure. They should have been put on trial for being ethically criminal (don’t worry, folks, cain’t happen; there is no such legal term as “ethically criminal” but, at the very least, there should have been class action lawsuits against those bums for what they ALLOWED—yes, allowed—to happen here.

Andrew wasn’t “the big one?” OMG, what nonsense. “But wait! There’s more!” Wasn’t there three hurricanes in ’05 and then another in ’08, one of which left us without power for 15 ½ days? I might have the years reversed, but what’s the difference? The fact that we were without power for any more than 72 hours is absolutely and utterly shameful and criminal.

So we haven’t had “the big one?” Yes, (to those idiots), we have had “the big one” time after time and, dear readers, if you ever hear some moron say those words again, well, I don’t want you to pour hot coffee in his or her crotch, ‘cause then you’d go to jail, but I do want you to start thinking about what sarcastic, sardonic and humiliating remark you can make to any numbskull who makes that comment, because, frankly and honestly, that person, at the least, deserves to be out of doors in the middle of the storm when the next not “the big one” hits!

After living here in Greater Myamuh for now more than 72 years, I guess you can feel and understand my passion regarding that statement, almost at the level of distaste for those who STILL can’t stop telling us that “Julia Tuttle sent Mr. Flagler some orange blossoms so he extended the railroad to Biscayne Bay” or that “Jews were not allowed to buy property north of Fifth Street on Miami Beach until after 1920” or that “that was Al Capone’s hideaway,” none of those damn fool statements having as much as one grain of truth. However, I don’t know who we should all be more disgusted with, the persons making those foolish remarks or the organizations for which they serve as docents, tour guides or volunteers.

That those organizations not only still allow that but still refuse to have me come in to speak to those three groups and correct the misstatements for them is both shameful and disgusting but apparently said org’s either have no shame and simply don’t care about the FACT that their tour guides, docents and volunteers are spouting pure unadulterated hooey and nonsense. I, however, do care, and their allowing those totally false statements to be repeated over and over again is simply not only beyond the ken of human understanding, but, and in addition, it denigrates both the people making the statements and the organizations which they represent at a level that is utterly disgraceful and nothing less.

Well, good people of Grand Central Terminal Locker 144 (“All Hail J, All Hail J,” the great scene from “Men in Black”), that’s my sermon for this visit, so I will step down from the soap box now and eagerly look forward to visiting with you in just a few days, as which time we will begin another trip back to the past where we will enjoy a trip during “the time of the trolley.”

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