Wednesday, November 22, 2017
News Roundup

Memory of no-name storm remains strong for former sheriff

RECOMMENDED READING


Twenty years dim memories, but not these.

Lee Cannon will never forget.

In his first two months as Pasco's sheriff, his deputies investigated the biggest fire in our history and a heartbreaking murder of a 12-year-old girl who had just stepped off her school bus. Then in the third month, as if the news could not get any worse, a squall line formed in the Gulf of Mexico and slammed into our shore, filling hundreds of homes with four feet of water.

Unlike hurricanes, it didn't get a formal name. But "no-name storm'' became an enduring label, a symbol of nature's violence and our vulnerability, a warning to prepare for even worse.

Today, on this 20th anniversary, we recognize it as the worst storm in our modern history. Like all great events, we remember where we were when it hit.

"We knew it was coming,'' recalled Cannon, who watched the squall on radar. "But nobody predicted the power of that surge. I've thought about it many times since, especially how ordinary people responded with such bravery. They risked their lives with boats and other equipment and helped get others to higher ground. That's what I remember most.''

He feared the light of day would reveal fatalities, "but we got lucky.'' For weeks in all coastal neighborhoods, crews cut up trees that had fallen on roofs. Soggy carpet and ruined household goods sat outside on the curb everywhere west of U.S. 19. Cardboard signs signaled to insurance adjusters. The air smelled like a wet dog.

A few days after the storm, I drove to western Hernando County to check on friends' house in Bayport. They had moved to New Zealand and were renting to some doctors who had been forced to evacuate in a rush. The water mark on the living room wall was 4 feet from the floor. A new, black Porsche Carrera sat in the garage. When I opened the door, water and fish poured onto the ground.

Stilt houses on Pine Island were blown off their pilings. One house that had survived numerous storms split in two pieces, one drifting more than a mile down a canal. Two cats rode out the storm in the eaves of the other half. My friend in Hernando Beach grieved the loss of pet rabbits that had drowned in their cages, five feet above ground.

Lee Cannon served two terms as sheriff. He said virtually every emergency preparedness decision made during that period drew on lessons from the No-Name Storm. "We beefed up marine patrol and evacuation plans,'' he said.

Now 67, he makes his living selling real estate and occasionally practicing law. "I keep busy,'' he said this week, "and real estate is starting to pick up. I do miss being sheriff. But I have to say, those first three months in office were something else.''

He's especially pleased that the sheriff in Hernando County, Al Nienhuis, recently appointed a full-time detective to the murder of Jennifer Odom. The 12-year-old disappeared shortly after stepping off her school bus in St. Joseph's on Feb. 19, 1993. A couple hiking near a horse trail 10 miles north in Hernando County came upon her body six days later.

Twenty years dim memories. But as the old sheriff said, "Somebody out there knows something. It only takes a spark of information.''

Comments
Alton White, civil rights leader who loved ‘every blade of grass in Tampa,’ dies at 77

Alton White, civil rights leader who loved ‘every blade of grass in Tampa,’ dies at 77

TAMPA — Born into the civil rights movement, Alton Maurice White Sr. embraced it as his own while playing college football in Tallahassee.He brought his passion home to Tampa and for decades, played a guiding role in advancing the cause.By his count,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!Today is a day of tradition.The Macy’s parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.And our annual "Turkey of the Year.’’It’s a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist P...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Six years and counting: Allegiant Air reaches agreement with flight attendants

Six years and counting: Allegiant Air reaches agreement with flight attendants

ST. PETERSBURG — After six years of negotiations, Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air and its flight attendant union reached a tentative contract to improve worker pay and benefits and solidify airline policies."We feel like it’s an agreement that is certa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Some cities faced with all-or-nothing medical marijuana rules are playing it safe

Some cities faced with all-or-nothing medical marijuana rules are playing it safe

When it comes to weighing the options for regulating medical marijuana through the law passed this year, Dunedin city commissioners declared local governments face a "conundrum" and "a false dilemma."They said they would welcome a dispensary in the c...
Updated: 1 hour ago
What’s in theaters for Thanksgiving: ‘Coco,’ ‘Last Flag Flying,’ ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

What’s in theaters for Thanksgiving: ‘Coco,’ ‘Last Flag Flying,’ ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

NOW IN THEATERS:COCODisney-Pixar’s animated dramedy Coco (PG) is inspired by Mexico’s annual Dia de los Muertos, the "day of the dead" when departed ancestors are celebrated. Good for diversity, although the movie isn’t as good as its intentions.Migu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Future of Hernando Beach water tower up in the air

Future of Hernando Beach water tower up in the air

HERNANDO BEACH — Perched high above the coastal neighborhood, the water tower at Hernando Beach has been a unique watchman and highly visible welcome sign for drivers and boaters although it has not held water for years.Now there is some question abo...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Details emerge in suicide of Hernando school volunteer accused of sexual abuse

Details emerge in suicide of Hernando school volunteer accused of sexual abuse

A former Brooksville school volunteer accused of sexually assaulting teenage foreign exchange students who were under his care was found dead last week, a day before he was due in court on the charges.The body of Bruce McAllister was found at the bas...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pasco students score big at Junior Thespian Festival

Pasco students score big at Junior Thespian Festival

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco schools brought home 20 top honors from the District 11 Junior Thespian Festival, which included 22 schools from Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Manatee counties and took place at the new River Ridge FAME Academy on Nov. 17 and ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago