A friend battles next hurricane

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The swirling hurricane season keeps pounding away, and everyone I’ve talked to in recent days is concerned about friends and family living in the southeast.
First Charlie, now Frances.
It has, without a doubt, been an absolutely terrifying year for tropical storms. There is a woman greatly admired by many who lives in south Florida. Lovey seems determined to help as many people in her lifetime as possible, and I am one of those lucky people she has reached out to with knowledge as we work to get my son through his battle with Lyme disease.
Lovey and her husband both battle it, and she is a warrior if ever there was one. Lovey is an incredible blend of intelligence, determination and compassion.
From a friend. After Hurricane Charlie blew through, battering her community and leaving them without power for days on end, Lovey was kind enough to write to many of us, as she knew we would be worried.
This is part of what she wrote, which I share with her permission: “A little history lesson: Florida was a Very Important state during the War Between the States. We supplied meat to the Confederate troops as well as SALT. The handle ‘Florida Cracker’ came from the sound ‘crack’ of the bullwhips used to move the cattle along. Even law enforcement officers carried whips back in the 1940s and were quite adept in using them.
“My French ancestors were ‘crackers’ back in the 19th century (1800 hundreds). My immediate grandfather became a big citrus farmer as well as running a large herd of cattle in Central/South Florida. He died in 1934 before I was born.
“Florida is still a leading cattle state. In fact, that is one of the main reasons that the University of Florida ran the ‘Whiteheart’ research lab down in South Florida for years until recently.
“Whiteheart disease comes from the African Tortouse Tick which migrated via exotic zoos, etc. to Florida. The ATT affects only cattle (that we know of, but you know how zoonotic diseases are now transferring to humans) and causes horrible birth defects to newborn cattle. I believe the research lab was closed (maybe not?) Anyway, the disease is here still. Mad Cow disease is something we fear here.
“A drive along Interstate 75 will show you a lot of ‘showhorse’ ranches but it is the backroads that will show you the cattle ranches. Cattle still roam Payne’s Paraire near Gainesville (north FL).
“Well, there may be many less of those cattle now. I can’t get any news about the ranchers’ losses. Mostly they are still showing pictures of the devastation of homes and businesses.
“I can assure you that orange juice prices are going to go through the roof, as many citrus farms have been devastated,” Lovey concludes.
Now, that was written a couple of weeks ago, just after Hurricane Charlie slammed the state.
Getting out. This time, Lovey has written to say they are not staying put, but evacuating all the way north to Jacksonville where another dear friend lives, as she knew that Frances could not be reckoned with.
“This one is going to be huge, and I’ve experienced lots of hurricanes. I could tell you lots of horror stories, but I won’t. I urge everyone to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
And with that, Lovey packed as many personal belongings in to their old and fragile motor home and headed north, not sure if and when she will see her home again.
“I live in manufactured housing. Need I say more?”
But, after having survived a lifetime of health challenges and a house fire in recent years, Lovey has a remarkable attitude. “I can be very happy with just a comb and a toothbrush. After Frances, that may be all I’ll have!”
And with that, Lovey signed off and headed north.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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