by The Editors | June 1, 2018
Flamingle: Hurricane Heroes
June 1 marks the official start of hurricane season. These five Floridians prove that no matter the weather, we’re in it together.
DONALD LEE JR.
Key West is one of the most iconic vacation destinations in the world. The island’s geography makes it the perfect spot for snorkeling over coral reefs, but also puts it at unparalleled risk during hurricane season, a reality no one understands better than those in blue. Key West Chief of Police Donald Lee Jr. urged his fellow Conchs to leave the Keys and head north as Hurricane Irma approached. The whole state watched to see if the Keys would be wiped off the map, while Lee, who is openly gay and a fifth-generation Conch, rode out the storm with his officers to ensure the safety of the city and its people.
In the equestrian community, there’s some debate over the proper protocol for waiting out large storms. If relocating isn’t an option, is it better to leave horses in open pasture and let instinct take over or to secure them in a barn and risk injury if there’s structural damage? For Georgia Mott of Okeechobee County, the answer during Hurricane Irma was neither. Mott and her roommate transformed their home into a horse haven, complete with hay on the floor and feed buckets on the walls, for their two steeds, Goose and Dixie. The pair posted a video of their preparations, which quickly went viral.
As the owners of Proof Brewing Co. in Tallahassee, Byron Burroughs and his wife, Angela, are well-known throughout the capital city. As the winds of Irma stirred over the Caribbean, propelling the then-Category 5 hurricane toward the state, the Burroughses stopped production of their beloved Mango Wit and started offering free filtered water. “In the event the storm deals a major blow to Tallahassee,” the brewery wrote in a Facebook post, “we’ll have our tanks filled with over 300 barrels (almost 10,000 gallons) of water ready to provide to the community.” Spared by the storm, they quickly got back to brewing beer.
Show Me the Money
In 2017, Florida faced off with one of the more active hurricane seasons in recent memory. After the clouds of Hurricane Irma parted, Florida native and country music superstar Jake Owen put in a call to the governor’s office to see how he could help. He appealed to his 1 million Instagram followers with a video plea for donations that was viewed more than 70,000 times. All the funds raised for “Bring Back the Sunshine” were funneled into the Florida Disaster Fund. Topping things off, Owen joined icon Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney on stage in Tallahassee last November for a hurricane relief concert benefiting victims of Irma.
During hurricane season, there’s no one Floridians turn to more than their trusted regional meteorologists. It can be a tough job, with irregular hours and storm chasing. But in 1992, as Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida, weatherman Bryan Norcross was unwavering. His voice and likeness on the TV calmed viewers as the storm barreled toward Miami. Norcross’s composure saved lives and later earned him national recognition. “Get to that interior closet,” he said, “get a mattress over your head, get your family in there and just wait this thing out.” Norcross’s coverage set the standard for hurricane reporting.