Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sun City resident experienced stormy Florida welcome in 1965

Sun City Center resident Margaret A. Lewis and her family moved to Miami in 1965, days ahead of Hurricane Betsy. Her husband, who worked for NOAA, had come to study hurricanes closer.


Sun City Center resident Margaret A. Lewis and her family moved to Miami in 1965, days ahead of Hurricane Betsy. Her husband, who worked for NOAA, had come to study hurricanes closer.

Editor's note: This week, the Times continues its new, occasional series called Moments in Time. We're publishing stories from our senior readers that capture treasured memories from a specific part of their lives. These stories typically will have a beginning and an end, deal with vibrant images and include period-piece references. Please submit your entries to

Today's submission comes from Margaret A. Lewis of Sun City Center as told to Times reporter Kim Wilmath.


It was 1965 when we moved down to Miami from Maryland, just as Hurricane Betsy got there.

My husband worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He worked with computers, dreaming up hurricane and tornado models, but he wanted to get to Miami and fly on the NOAA planes, chasing hurricanes.

Finally, he asked to be transferred. He couldn't stand that cold, snowy weather any longer.

And so, with our son, Stephen, who was in the eighth grade, we packed up our two cars. I had a brand new 1964 blue Oldsmobile, and my husband had a red Ford, one of those big ones.

My husband wanted to drive straight through, but I said no way. I wanted to make it a nice, leisurely trip, but in the end it took us about two or three days.

When we got to Florida, we stayed in a motel while we waited on the movers to bring our furniture down.

It was a small, one-story place with a pool. We thought it was pretty nice.

On the third or fourth night, we were all in bed when it started raining, and the wind started blowing hard outside.

It woke me up, so I woke my husband up and he said, "Go back to bed, go back to sleep, it's okay."

I said, "No, it is not."

I knew very well that there weren't any railroad tracks going on both sides of the motel. And this sounded like a freight train going by.

Since my husband worked for the government studying hurricanes, he wasn't afraid. I wasn't really either, because he wasn't.

But for the next few days, we lost electricity. We lost water.

We didn't expect all that.

Later, we found out that Category 4 Hurricane Betsy had wind speeds that were almost 100 mph. It toppled all the palm trees in Miami and caused major damage in Louisiana.

We were fine, but it was an interesting welcome to Florida.

Sun City resident experienced stormy Florida welcome in 1965 03/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2011 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: The Underwoods bring the political terror in 'House of Cards' Season 5


    The ruthless Frank and Claire Underwood are back, continuing their own form of terror inside and outside of the White House.

    Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in House of Cards Season 5 on Netflix.
  2. Trump hails heroes at Arlington on Memorial Day


    WASHINGTON — UPDATE, 12:28 P.M.: President Donald Trump is expressing his nation's "boundless and undying" gratitude to Americans who have fallen in battle and to the families they left behind.

    President Donald Trump participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. [Photo by Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images]
  3. French president attacks Russian media outlets; Putin says Moscow didn't try to influence French election


    VERSAILLES, France — UPDATE, 11:57 A.M.: French President Emmanuel Macron has made an extraordinary attack on two Russian media outlets, saying they acted as "propaganda" organs during France's election campaign.

    French President Emmanuel Macron, right, speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Galerie des Batailles (Gallery of Battles) at the Versailles Palace as they arrive for a joint press conference following their meeting in Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday. [Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP]
  4. In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the third hole during the final round at the Hero World Challenge golf tournament in Nassau, Bahamas. Woods has been arrested on a drunken driving charge in Palm Beach County , various media outlets are reporting. [AP photo]
  5. Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge in Florida

    Public Safety

    Golfer Tiger Woods was arrested on a DUI charge Monday in Jupiter, according to the Palm Beach County sheriff's office.

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a DUI charge in Florida.