On Christmas Day 2006, while at the Shield’s Petoskey house I received an urgent phone call from a colleague at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University‘s Language Program, Kim Hardiman: “Scott, I’m outside your apartment building. A tornado may or may not have destroyed your unit. Turn on the TV. I gotta go!”
Sure enough, I saw my Sutton Place apartment on the national news, including print media, USA Today
I didn’t arrive back in Florida until perhaps two weeks after the tornado strike. There was still security surrounding the apartment complex to prevent looters and trespassers entering the exposed buildings. The power of the storm and its arbitrary nature were magnificent. A Christmas tree tangled atop the wreckage. After showing my ID, I was able to enter my unit—without a key as the front door had been unhinged. Considering that the neighbor’s second floor unit was now thin air, my unit across the hall was remarkable unscathed. The living room wall facing the parking lot had a hole near the window that you could toss a basketball through and fiberglass and glass was splayed throughout the unit. I had presciently kept most of my belongings in a closet which was entirely unaffected.
The tornado’s path began in the Atlantic, touched down on Sutton Place apartments and then struck Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, my workplace. Everything was on hold and my position was being readjusted. Fortunately, in the prior month I secured a faculty job at Everglades University in Orlando.
Sutton Place repaid the remaining rent for the month and the Red Cross graciously provided financial assistance to buy food. My brother James helped me pack up the belongings not splayed in glass and I relocated to Orlando, first staying with the Dean Penny Carr at EU before finding a place at Dover Garden’s Apartment on Adriel Lane, a perfect location just a few blocks from the campus on, a drive up Gaston Foster Rd. to Lake Underhill.
A few months later a horrific tornado struck north of Orlando in Lady Lake on February 2, 2007. I heard the tornado sirens that night. This map shows the paths.