“It’s already wet,” a 30-year-resident said, reflecting on the unusually extra soggy summer. “When Irma came, the river was down a little. Now, it’s up ... .”
ASTOR — Bill Hennigan leaned on the tailgate of his pickup truck Friday as the skies turned black, blue and bleak, and thunder rumbled over the St. John’s River before the bottom fell out.
“I got 20 bags,” he said, pointing to the sandbags stacked in the back of his truck.
Hurricane Irma, gone two years now, is still fresh in his mind.
“I went to bed at 9 and at 6:30 my wife woke me up and said, ‘Look at this!’ My house was surrounded by water.”
Hennigan was getting his sandbags at Lake County Fire Station 10 on State Road 44.
He wasn’t the only one. Raven Tripp was filling up sandbags for her home, too.
“It’s already wet,” the 30-year-resident said, reflecting on the unusually extra soggy summer.
“When Irma came, the river was down a little. Now, it’s up….”
James DePuy was also shoveling sand, but as a helper.
“I like to volunteer,” he said. “I went to Wilmington (North Carolina) last year when they had that hurricane, and the flooding was unbelievable.”
Al Henderickson, visited by the Daily Commercial during Hurricane Irma, had hoped to have less of an issue this time. At that time, it was impossible to tell where the river stopped and his yard began. In fact, there were alligators and water moccasins in people’s yards. His grandson was fishing from the sidewalk and Hendrickson, who lives off Old River Lane, was mopping the floors in his house.
“We got some fill dirt,” he said, nodding toward his back yard.
So far so good.
“But if it comes this way it won’t be good.”
A canal in front of his house is brim full, and so are the banks of the river behind him.
Astor residents are known for their resilience, however. During Irma, the county set up an evacuation shelter at a church in Grand Island. Volunteers waited, staring at blank sign-up sheets and subconsciously tapping out drum solos with pencils. Nobody came.
At Sparky’s Place restaurant on Friday, one man had a short retort to a question about whether he was ready for the storm: “Ah,” he said dismissively.
Even Hennigan, who has only lived in Astor for five years, was philosophical.
The retiree moved here from Massachusetts. “I had enough snow. I’d rather have rain than snow.”