Having lived big parts of my life in South Florida and Houston I watched Harvey and Irma unfold with intense concern. Thankfully everyone I know has emerged unscathed. We consider ourselves among the fortunate. I was watching too the fates of various cultural institutions that found themselves in harm’s way. The Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel in Houston seemed especially vulnerable but emerged with no flood damage from Harvey. As Irma bore down on Key West the Hemingway Home seemed destined for major damage or even outright destruction. Hemingway first started going to the Keys in the 1920s, after the First World War and his years in Paris as part of the Lost Generation. He wrote part of The Sun Also Rises in the Keys. It has now been several decades but I remember going there more than once back in the 1970s and 80s. Hemingway seemed so long gone but he had only committed suicide just 15-20 years earlier.
As Irma moved westward the Hemingway Home’s longtime caretakers decided to hold out, much to the consternation of Mariel Hemingway, who urged them to evacuate along with the rest of the residents of the Keys. The staff did not take that advice and held on. Irma is not yet over and many people are still facing serious threat. The assessment and clean-up have yet to begin in the areas that Irma has already touched. And of course it is not just Florida: Texas is still reeling from Harvey and the people of the Caribbean face incredible challenges from Irma. Thankfully there are a few, very few, things for which to be grateful right now. The Hemingway Home along with its dozens of six-toed cats has survived Irma thanks to the dedication of the staff who worked diligently to save the historic structure.
(image/Michelle Maria via Wikimedia Commons)