Thursday, August 28, 2008

What's that in the water?

The swarm of angry red fire ants pulse and buzz as they form a large floating ball of insect resistance against the rising tide of floodwater from Hurricane Fay. To keep from drowning, the large red ants gather together in a tight ball and float through the muddy water. As they drift through yards and down streets, their angry swarm floats into the house of an unsuspecting homeowner, working to salvage anything he can from his flooded home. The homeowner, surprised by the swift attack, succumbs to the swarm dying from anaphylactic shock.

No, this is not the start of a movie on the Sci Fi Channel. It’s ripped from today’s Florida news headlines. You might think fire ants would drown underwater. Not our Florida ants! They actually form into a floating ball and attack anything they come up against. Even people. This morning’s news included a report of a man who died in his home from anaphylactic shock after encountering a floating swarm of fire ants. Rescuers were unable to save him in time.

Water can be the least of your worries when your home or neighborhood floods in Florida. Because with the water come the wildlife that lives in water. I’m talking turtles, alligators, snakes, our famous walking catfish, which, if you’ve never seen one, could have you thinking these strange critters are a sign of the apocalypse.

Not funny, I know. But here’s something that is.

A fellow Florida blogger posted a great test on his blog today, “How to know if your Florida property will flood during a hurricane.” Essentially, he says that if you have any of the Florida wildlife, plant life or scenery to be found in the photos he posted, you will flood. His tongue in cheek post pointed out, very succinctly, that if you live in Florida, you better count on flooding. Really, it doesn’t take a genius to figure this out.

I guess some folks move to Florida and think that if they don’t live on the ocean or the river, they won’t flood. Real estate agents simply don’t tell new state residents that living in the Sunshine State means you’ve got to have a little Noah in you.

At one time I lived in DeBary, an area that experienced some of the worst flooding due to hurricane Fay. We built a home there years ago at a time when DeBary was undergoing quite a building boom. However, we knew that many of the subdivisions going in there were being built on dried up lake beds. And it is the “City of Rivers” after all. So when looking for property, we waited until the hurricane season dumped on DeBary. We didn’t have to wait long.

After a particularly grueling tropical storm, we put on the rubber boots and headed out to find a plot of land for sale that was currently high and dry. There were dozens and dozens of empty lots with only the very top of the real estate signs showing beneath standing water. We found a lot with no water anywhere nearby in a mostly built-out neighborhood, bought it and to this day that house has never flooded.

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