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Wilma hits South Florida

Hurricane Wilma made landfall on Monday morning as a Category 3 hurricane in South Florida.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | October 23, 2005


"We still have blue roofs (blue tarps provided to help patch damaged roofsf in last year's hurricanes). We also have some 37,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees staying in hotels around the state."

—Danielle Kearney, Lutheran Disaster Response


Hurricane Wilma made landfall on Monday morning as a Category 3 hurricane in South Florida. The storm lashed the state with 125-mph winds after coming ashore about 22 miles south of Naples in Collier County.

The storm could bring a storm surge of eight to 13 feet to Florida's southwest coast. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Wilma may strengthen a little before making landfall.

After dropping as much as 40-inches of rain in parts of Mexico and Cuba, Wilma is forecast to drop four to 12 inches of rain through parts of Florida. Isolated tornadoes are also possible.

The hurricane had been plodding along slowly through the Caribbean for most of last week.

Also, Tropical Storm Alpha - named for the first letter in the Greek alphabet - has now formed south of Haiti. Alpha is not expected to cause any trouble to the U.S. mainland according to NHC meteorologists.

Yet for Wilma, the constant changes in track and landfall caused some headaches for Florida residents trying to properly prepare for it.

"I think the hardest thing right now is the lack of information and knowledge about where it's going and when," said the Rev. Kent Lee of Gateway Trinity Lutheran Church in Ft. Myers, Fla.

"I've heard everything from members - some already left for Jacksonville, some had booked hotels in Orlando for the weekend."

Lee said all the change combined with the estimates of just how powerful Hurricane Wilma could be when it makes landfall has made residents anxious. "There's realization that we don't have an accurate saying of where this storm is going yet."

Danielle Kearney agreed. The Disaster Relief Coordinator for Lutheran Disaster Response in Florida, Kearney said the waiting is difficult. She also worries about the thousands of families still living in trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as their homes are repaired or rebuilt. Others have just finished the repairs on their homes from last year's hurricane season.

"We still have blue roofs," said Kearney of the blue tarps provided to help patch damaged roofs. "We also have some 37,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees staying in hotels around the state."

She expects the the emotional toll from this storm will be "unbelievable," and staff from Lutheran Counseling Services are standing by.

"You can see it already, people are upset," said Kearney. "The whole state seems to be saying, 'this can't be real.'"

For Rev. Lee, the most important advice for his parishioners now is to not worry about property. "Don't worry about the church, either, just worry about getting supplies and being prepared.

"There's a full spectrum of emotions down here right now."


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More links on Hurricanes

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