October 8, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Versus 1898

     I sit here, waiting to get word as to when the authorities will allow us to return to our beloved Amelia Island, Florida since the destruction dealt us by Hurricane Matthew, this October 7, 2016. And as we wait to discover the total damage the storm may have delivered, I thought of the great hurricane that hit Fernandina on Amelia Island, October 2, 1898.  I know much about it because, after intense research, it became an integral part of the plot of my novel, Amelia Island's Mark of a Man. From what I hear from folks who remained on Amelia Island, no matter the mandatory evacuation order, I don't think Matthew, for us, will be as ruinous as that hurricane, some 118 years ago.  I thank God for that.

     The copy below is taken from my author's notes at the end of Mark of a Man:

HURRICANE: Many who presently live on Amelia Island, Florida, think of the October 2, 1898 hurricane/tropical cyclone as ours.  More often, it is called the Georgia Hurricane since it directly hit Cumberland Island, Camden County, Georgia, which is just over the border between the two states. Today it is thought this was a Category 4 hurricane with winds up to 135 mph, and somewhat similar to Hugo, which tore apart South Carolina in 1989.  Florida Mirror, Fernandina's local newspaper of the day, reported a twelve-foot storm surge at the Amelia River docks that destroyed buildings and left boats and ships marooned up into the town as far as Second Street. Estimated damage was some $500,000 or $14,285,000 in 2014 money.  Casualties on Amelia Island were two children, and one mother and her infant. The total recorded souls lost between Florida and Georgia were 179. It is often said that these bad hurricanes in this area occur every hundred years. If that is the case, Fernandina is overdue.