The greatest threat to wildlife is assuming someone else will save it..

Hurricane Wilma Photos



Hurricanes and the Florida Keys seem to go hand in hand.  In reality, hurricanes rarely hit the Keys directly.  However, that doesn't mean that the effects of hurricanes are not felt here, nor does it mean that there aren't any consequences from nearby hurricanes.  In recent memory, there have been a few near misses that caused considerable damage to the islands.  Of course, there was Andrew.  Initially, after Andrew passed, there was only one deputy standing on the highest bridge who could communicate with anyone at all in or out of the Keys.  Communications of all types are typically  interrupted as well as power outages.  Unfortunately, U.S. 1 is often blocked, so travel is impossible.  Andrew caused significant problems for over two weeks due to lack of power, transportation, and supplies. 

Then there was Mitch.  Mitch brought tornadoes and untold damage in the Upper Keys. Power was out and homes were destroyed.  Rising water caused additional problems in some areas.

And then there was Wilma.  While everyone in the country focused on Wilma approaching New Orleans, residents in the Keys were witness to a sudden rising water level that had not been predicted, nor the like of which had never been seen before in the Keys.  Water covered all of Key West to 5 feet, except for the Sears Plaza, Key West's highest point.  Everything was destroyed.  Because the Upper Keys have some higher elevations, Key Largo was spared the awful consequences of the other Keys. 

The water came up so fast there was little time to save or move anything.  Many animals died trying to find safety.  Many raccoons and cats were trapped in culverts and drown.  As the waters receded, little bodies floated out to sea.  The unseen effect of the flood was the unearthing of viruses and bacteria that had been dormant for years.  These bad news bugs reared their ugly heads and decimated the raccoon, opossum, and apparently bird populations.  After the flood, there weren't any butterflies.  But there were flies.  Hordes of flies.  Flies that could and did carry disease from one animal to another.  Where there were 40 raccoons, there may be two today.  The birds are just now returning in larger numbers.  Perhaps the Keys will make a recovery as far as people understand, but the wildlife that was once so abundant will probably never be the same.

Natural disasters have a terrible effect on all living things, but it is the wildlife that pays the ultimate price. 

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