I’M JUST CURIOUS: Welcome to Citrus County, Florida

by Debbie Walker

Last week I wrote about an area north of where I live in Florida. It was Panama City Beach and that area was devastated by hurricane Michael in October 2018. The damage from this storm has been estimated at $25.1 billion dollars. Some readers were curious why I would want to live in Florida and go through hurricanes. I am prepared to answer that question.

My area of Florida is considered to be Central West Coast. We are about 90 miles north of Tampa. I lived here for 30 years before I went back to Maine for a few years. What will follow is the information that was passed on to me in the first couple of years that I was here:

I knew nothing about Florida when I moved here in September 1984. My first hurricane experience was quite the lesson. I lived in a mobile home and came home to the evening news announcing the evacuation rules. It said that anyone in Citrus County in a mobile home needed to evacuate to somewhere high and dry.

After we heard the alert, we went out and cleaned up anything that could fly with the wind. About that time my boss arrived and said we ought to come to her house. She had a concrete block house, quite a bit stronger than a mobile.

While at her house with native Floridians, I got an education. Citrus County is bordered on the west side by the Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane was spinning and stalled in the gulf. It was out there for a couple of days. It was said we would be a direct hit. The natives said, ‘Absolutely not just watch and see.’ Just as the natives said, when the hurricane started moving again, it left us without much more than some winds and rain.

That night they explained to me there really wasn’t much of a problem unless your home was built on the water, a higher tide than usual would be the issue there. Occasionally, Citrus would get some high winds but sometimes we get that in an afternoon electrical storm.

Hurricanes prefer to travel in warm waters and low elevations. We have seven spring (cold water) fed rivers that feed cold water out into the gulf and we have some of the highest elevations in Florida. If we ever go under water, they will be using scuba divers in Mickey Land. Hurricanes usually hit south of us in Tampa (built primarily under sea level!) and bubble out around us north to Cedar Key.

We also have about a 30-mile shallow shelf of land under our section of the gulf. It gets deeper about a foot a mile. (It’s not the best place to plan on deep water fishing or diving.) This is also said to be a possible reason for the detouring storms.

Proof of our good fortune are that the tiny islands off our coast are still here. In other coastal areas the wind and flooding have eroded their islands. Okay, so I learned this stuff from the natives but in the past 30-plus years they appear to have been right. I do still believe in evacuations to be on the safe side.

I am not just curious about why I appreciate my area. I could go on all night with neat things about Citrus County, Florida, just ask me. Send your comments or questions to dwdaffy@yahoo.com or call the office and leave a message if you ‘don’t do computers’. Thanks for reading.


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