Why I wrote Hemingway's Storm

July 24, 2014



Roaches on the wall, roaches in the crackers, roaches in the soap. I hated roaches but they were everywhere.

When I arrived in Florida after hurricane Andrew, it was on the premise of doing some good for a people after a disaster. I was part of the disaster recovery crew. I’d pitched my tent under a palm tree. But, this was no ordinary palm tree. Twenty feet up there was a flimsy piece sticking out of either side of this large tree. It had been shot through by hurricane winds which turned this otherwise innocent piece of hardware into a lethal weapon. I saw cars that were completely sandblasted so all that was left was a windowless vehicle that looked liked burnished steel. The six foot piles of trash lining the roads reeked.

Yet I found myself as I helped rebuild the houses – and lives in Florida City. We worked on one woman’s house. I put a doorknob on her front door. She was very grateful and told me that soon after the hurricane hit the looting started. While she was watching her afternoon soap opera, a man walked into her house and told her that he was taking her T.V. He unplugged it and walked away.

This same woman feared that food would become scarce so she hoarded crackers she got off a government truck. After two weeks without air conditioning, the tropical heat made this a haven for – you guessed it – roaches. I was in the kitchen putting up new cabinets (and had to help re-lay part of the floor because the house had shifted on its foundation), as others helped get rid of the infestation.

I didn’t live through the hell but I saw the aftermath. Like Hemingway, I was able to get a glimpse of what kind of terror these people faced in a scant few hours. Many couldn’t tell their story yet – it was too soon. Though I never saw the human carnage that Hemingway saw in 1935, it set my wheels turning. I wondered about the storm that he wrote about.

Railway Station at Camp 3

Doing my research, I found that hundreds of WWI veterans lost their lives. Though the official count is around 200, there were more unaccounted for and never added to the official census. They had to burn the bodies quickly because only after a few hours the dead had started to bloat and literally “explode.”I thought of writing a non-fiction account, but after reading the trail transcripts I got to know the personalities behind the events.

Crafting a few fictional characters to tie reality to “my” reality, I felt I was transcribing the events rather than building a work of fiction. Often, I would talk to my wife about these people as though I’d just spoken with them over the phone. She often brought me back to the real world after I felt the opening gentle breezes that would soon be replaced by winds so strong they would sand-blast the skin off the vet’s bodies.

This story is more than just a tale of the past. Today we have vets who are seeking to recover from PTSD (or in 1935 terms – “shell shock”). We are told by meteorologists that we may soon encounter storms that would rival that of Labor Day 1935.

If you want to read a story that will pull you into an exotic place and time, then Hemingway’s Storm is a story for you. It is an easy read and one that may just change the way you think about your next vacation to the Keys. I hope you read Hemingway’s Storm. If you do, please let me know what you think of it. I hope you find yourself there and then with me as we follow these men in their struggle to survive.



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in News

Commissioning Artwork
Commissioning Artwork

July 09, 2022

Five Reasons you may want to commission artwork from your favorite artist.

Read More

Mortal Nature
Mortal Nature

December 24, 2020

I am working on this book after taking 2020 to isolate and hibernate. I hope to be done by spring. Hope you like it!

Read More

Why we Can't Swim Like Dolphins
Why we Can't Swim Like Dolphins

February 21, 2020

Read More