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Winds and waves whip up memories

Note to readers

For the next week, the Pasco Times will publish stories about the "No-Name Storm" and how it changed the lives of Pasco residents. Today's story and photos give an overview of the storm's physical and psychological damage. The series will run through March 13, the one-year anniversary of the storm.

Winds blow, and they remember.

Waves crash against a sea wall, and they remember.

Whenever the weather takes a turn for the worse, coastal residents of Pasco County remember the morning of March 13, 1993 _ when much of their world was turned upside down.

Throughout America's Eastern Seaboard, they called it "The Storm of the Century," a system of wind and snow so powerful that forecasters said they had not seen its like in the past 93 years of weather-watching.

In Florida, however, it became known as the "No-Name Storm." For residents used to hurricanes with names like Andrew, Hugo and Elena, it seemed odd that a storm as powerful as the one that destroyed or damaged thousands of homes wouldn't have a name.

No county was hit harder than Pasco. The effects of that storm, both physical and psychological, were diverse and widespread. They are still felt today.

Denise Miranda, who works at a hotel on U.S. 19 in Bayonet Point, said she dealt with several customers who said they were "evacuating" their homes after a storm system swept through the area recently.

Marge Hutt, who lives in the Green Key area of New Port Richey, said her three sons spring into action each time the water threatens to rise above the sea wall near their home.

Carl Wilhelm, former commodore of the Hudson Beach Yacht Club, said he still acts as a "cool head" for his neighborhood, reassuring elderly residents who tend to panic whenever high tide warnings are reported.

Here's a look at some of the statistics the storm left in its wake:

The American Red Cross reported that, of the 7,951 Pasco County dwellings affected by the storm, 2,266 received minor damage, 5,448 received major damage and 237 were destroyed. Gerrie Brown, Red Cross' West Pasco director, said the Red Cross distributed some 95,000 free meals during the first three weeks after the storm and gave out $1.9-million worth of vouchers, which were used for such items as food, clothing and furniture.

Pasco County maintenance workers collected a whopping 9,000 tons of debris, which included soggy carpeting, damp drywall, useless appliances _ "basically, the whole schmear," said Bob Tietz, county utilities operations and maintenance director.

The county's Code Enforcement Department estimates at least 1,757 residents applied for permits to repair damage done by the storm. Repair costs are estimated at more than $19-million. Department officials say there are perhaps 2,000 more homeowners who have not yet applied for repair permits.

Though many residents still are shaken and concerned by their memories of the storm, there are those who saw it as just another part of life on Florida's coast.

"I don't worry about it too much," said Fran Murray, a Green Key resident. "Some people have earthquakes, some people have blizzards. . . . We just happened to have a flood. I don't set and fret about it.

"Life goes on."

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