Re: Hurricane forecasts missed the mark, letter, Aug. 16.
The Times needed no more than 72 hours to publish the first letter from a person criticizing the National Weather Service for failing to predict Hurricane Charley's sudden right turn over Captiva Island and into Central Florida.
As a 53-year resident of Florida, I have learned to respect hurricanes the way I respect lightning and alligators - all unpredictable, all potentially deadly.
A hurricane is a tornado with a 40-mile diameter. A hurricane can stop, turn in a circle, and go off in a different direction. All of Florida is at risk during hurricane season.
Any resident who went to bed Thursday evening thinking he knew where Charley would go on Friday hasn't been here long enough to understand the problem.
Do we need one Charley each season to drive that lesson home?
We had planned to stay home. WFLA-Ch. 8, with its constant, complete coverage, convinced us that we needed to find a safe place because of our special needs and we were so kindly led to a local high school.
We were met with a smile and the kind hand of a volunteer, Alice. Alice assisted my husband with the many items we would be needing for our comfort. There were many folks already set up in the long, safe hall, and everyone was friendly and concerned.
Our special spot accommodated our little mattress and wheelchair very comfortably. There were plenty of TVs to watch the storm. The long lines to be fed were organized and moved quickly to feed all of us adequately. The volunteers were helpful and friendly.
We are so grateful to have had a safe, friendly, well-organized place to be during the storm and thank everyone involved.
For those of us that have been spared Charley, I think we should dig deep in our pockets and give to those who were not so lucky. Don't forget about the local animal shelters in our area that are taking on an overwhelming task of caring for the animals that were affected in addition to the ones in their already crowded shelter.
Everyone in the entire Tampa Bay area should stop complaining about the inconvenience of being evacuated and/or having to board up their homes in preparation for Hurricane Charley and be eternally grateful that we were not hit by the storm. Businesses closed up and lost money, employees lost money. But we still have our homes, our jobs and our lives.
Also, I think if everyone in this area would donate even $1 to the hurricane victims' relief fund, it would generate millions of dollars.
The news and especially the weather forecasters did an excellent job.
We invite readers to write letters for publication. To send a letter from your computer, go to www.sptimes.com/letters and fill in the required information. Type your letter in the space provided on the form, then submit your letter to the appropriate section of the newspaper. If you prefer, you may instead fax your letter to us at 727 445-4119, or mail it to Letter to the Editor, St. Petersburg Times, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756.
Letters should be brief and must include the writer's name, city of residence, mailing address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be printed.