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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.

KIM WILMATH | Times

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 brandon@sptimes.com.

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

SUN CITY CENTER

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]
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