Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We Remember Hurricane Andrew and Doris - 20 Years Ago

Bob Hollenbach was at peace in South Florida - just being with Sissy. 
In August 1992 - BC- before cellphones - we got a phone call from our buddy Doris Hollenbach Meneses. I already was hard of hearing - so I could barely make out her voice. Basically she said Hurricane Andrew virtually leveled the entire bottom half of Florida. She had nothing - the well was out - the power was out - and the monkeys were out. Monkey Jungle was just up the road and the natives escaped. The inside of their home was stuccoed with mud from 150 MPH winds. Doris's family survived in the bathroom.

Doris graduated from high school with Lulu - and all her family was still in Valley. They gathered aid from the entire town and we were going on a mission. 

We had this 20 year old Argosy Motor Home. It would be our rescue vehicle. Lulu and I piled into the camper. Doris's father - Bob Hollenbach would come along. It was 1300 miles from Tamaqua to Homestead FL - south of Miami. Along the way we had a couple hardships - the water pump died - and a wire came off the starter. 

Some things stick out along the way down. I remember Bob taking a shower as we were on the move - bouncing around inside like a washing machine - but he came out clean and dry. We were waved thru the toll booths on the turnpike at 40 MPH. I remember pulling into Doris's yard on the end of a wrecker hook in the dark pulled by a guy named Angel.  

We spent a week with Doris and her family. We were living on her back porch - cooking on a picnic grill - sleeping in tents - and having our camper for hot showers. We tried helping clean up - a Herculean task.  Little did we realize that Doris would not have electricity again until Thanksgiving. They were on their own for 4 months - living in a FEMA trailer for a year while their house was completely gutted and rebuilt. 

It was August and Doris's front door was less than a mile from the gate to the Everglades. It was hot - humid - and the mosquitoes were trying to carry away the small kids. In the morning we would wake up to the sound of the DC-3's spraying for mosquitoes - although I felt like I was having flashbacks from Vietnam - but then I realized I was never there.

We had to return to Tamaqua for school. It was hard leaving Doris - but we were happy to return to some stability back home. 

Doris and Elias rebuilt the house. It took a year - they lived in a trailer in the back yard. Everyone was insisting they move north - but South Florida was their home.  Elias had a business there. The kids had their schools. And Doris was at home.

No comments: