Fred makes landfall at Cape San Blas

The first significant storm of the 2021 hurricane season to
hit Gulf County stormed in with all the finesse of Fred Flintstone and then left
with the nimbleness of Fred Astaire.

With students hunkered down at home, Tropical Storm Fred
made landfall at Cape San Blas around 3:15 p.m., Monday afternoon, flooding
roadways and tearing off tree limbs.

The storm prompted an early closure of Indian Pass Road near
CR-30. In all 1,600 customers, between Duke Energy and Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative
were without power at some point or another, and no doubt all had power restored by Thursday morning.

Students were back in class Wednesday morning, after Superintendent
Jim Norton had decided, after consulting with emergency management officials, to
close schools for a second day Tuesday, as was the case in Franklin County.

“This will afford each of us time to assess any damages, and
also to just have a chance to clean-up and come back well-rested on
Wednesday,” he said, in a news release.

“As a whole, we fared very well, we were blessed for sure,” said
Gulf County Emergency Management Director Matt Herring. “We had no reported
injuries, and while we did have trees fall on a couple houses, it was nothing like
we could have had.”

He said the emergency operations center recorded about 6.5
inches of rain over the course of the storm. The county’s public works crews on
Monday cut down 10 trees that had fallen across roadways. “And now they are out on some
of our dirt roads still cutting today,” he said Tuesday.

Herring said the emergency operations center recorded a
maximum of 54 mph wind gusts.

“For the most part it was an uneventful storm,” said Gulf
County Sheriff Mike Harrison. “All in all we fared very, very well.”

He said water across Indian Pass Road prompted an early
closure, not long after the storm rolled in early Monday morning.

“The storm’s rotation pushed a lot of water, and pine trees,
across the road,” he said. “As the water came inland, the wind starts blowing
from the west and pushes it out. There was no extensive damage, and a few isolated
flooding issues.

“We had a couple of cars in ditches, and a lot of rain in the
north end of the county, nothing of very much significance,” Harrison said. “We’re

By Tuesday morning, Indian Pass Road was back open, as residents spent the day clearing off storm debris, and making sure they are prepared for others that may come in before hurricane season ends.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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