Hope after the storm

When Hurricane Michael carved its disastrous path across the Florida Panhandle, the eastern edge of the eye moved directly over Roaring Creek Farm.

The 130 mph winds toppled a thousand longleaf pines and 100-year-old hardwoods.

The creek-carved bottoms that lace through the property are now a tangled mess.

The morning after the storm I drove to the farm from my home in Jacksonville to check for damage.

The closer I got the havoc left behind by Michael intensified. Quincy was hurt but not as badly as Gretna.

I dodged toppled trees on U.S. 90 to make my way past Mount Pleasant and Oak Grove.

The dead-end road to my farm was blocked by downed trees and power lines.

I scrambled through the wreckage until I could peer around a corner: Our cabin and barn were still intact.

At that moment, even though the farm had been left scarred by Michael, I knew we were luckier than so many who lost much more.

We are now into week four of the cleanup. The work is likely to take a year.

A young forester who works with us left me with these words after seeing the damage: “Nature has a way of healing itself.”

I’m already starting to see signs of that. The birds are back, and there’s evidence that the deer and turkey are as well.

I’ve spotted one of my favorite animals several times – a silver fox squirrel who survived the howling winds and falling trees.

Trees left standing but with most of their leaves stripped off are beginning to bud.

There is still beauty at Roaring Creek Farm.

During one of the nights after the storm passed, the sky was clear and moonless. The stars sparkled so brightly that even the Milky Way was clearly visible, stretching across the horizon.

And the sunsets over the farm’s pond are still mesmerizing.

It will take time, but nature will heal itself.



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I wrote opinion columns for The Florida Times-Union for 28 years. I retired in December 2017, but I still have a few things to say. Often those thoughts come to me when I'm at our farm in Gadsden County where life is simple and the environment still beautiful.

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