Tuesday, September 20, 2005

 

Tres Aguitas and Seventy Years


From Jerry Wilkinson, History of Upper Matecumbe Key Website.

TRES AGUITAS AND SEVENTY YEARS
BY GEORGINA MARRERO

Tuesday, September 20, 2005, 5 p.m.: The National Hurricane Center just lifted the Tropical Storm Warnings from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. I’m breathing a sigh of relief.

About an hour before, I’d been watching the removal of debris from US 1 in the Lower Matecumbe area. Upper Matecumbe is now known as Islamorada.

Lots of flooding in the Upper and Middle Keys: the Overseas Highway had HAD to be cleared, or else no one could have reached the folks in the Lower Keys.

Not too bad in Key West, the city’s mayor stated within the last hour. Rita’s done less damage to our Southernmost City than either Dennis or Katrina, he said.

The bad stuff’s still coming down in the Middle Keys.

Matecumbe: what a pretty name. I always notice it on the way down. Upper, and Lower

A BIG one. A HUGE one, hit the area in 1935. It’s still known as the Labor Day Hurricane. It destroyed about forty miles worth of tracks, on Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad. The eye stretched from Craig (yes, there was a family named Craig) to Long Key.

The township of Craig boasted—and still boasts—the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded on the mainland of the United States: 26.35 inches.

The Hurricane of 1935 was a Category 5 storm. Twenty-five years later, Category 4 Donna again wreaked havoc in roughly the same area.

Seventy years later, along comes Category 2 Rita. It’s pounding Marathon as I write this.

For all intents and purposes, we in Dade and Broward Counties got away with tres aguitas.

As Rita proceeds on her headlong rush toward landfall somewhere in Texas, all we can hope for is that a little town, somewhere between Upper and Lower Matecumbe, retains the record it set seventy years ago.

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