Here’s the scene: Florida, awaiting imminent impact from Hurricane Irma….With models and possible paths leading all over the place, there was the possibility of affecting millions, just not sure how hard. As we watched with mounting anticipation and the countless hours of Weather Channel coverage, there were a number of coastal locals who felt that we would all be ok and not to worry because we have a few good things going for us. Enter the Governor and Senator Rubio:
“If you live in Naples, in Fort Myers, in Sarasota, in the Tampa Bay region, this storm has the potential to be that sort-of-worst-case scenario that meteorologists and emergency planners dread,” Senator Marco Rubio said on Face the Nation on Sunday.
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The coastal cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater and Tampa have avoided a major hurricane since 1921, a stretch of good luck that locals attribute to everything from an ancient Indian blessing to magical powers in the sand crystals of Siesta Key.
The record books say that Sarasota did take on varying degrees of damage from hurricanes in 1926, 1944 and 1950.
Sarasota has not been a bull’s-eye for a major hurricane since reliable records began in 1871. But it was damaged to varying degrees by hurricanes in 1926, 1944 and 1950, as well as Donna in 1960 and Charley in 2004.
Others say that the Sarasota area is safe due to Mother Nature’s placement of the sand dunes on the coastal beaches, or the magic powers of Siesta Key’s white sand beaches and underwater crystals.
Sarasota is protected from hurricanes because the American Indians who once lived here knew it was a safe place, which is why they decided to live here. Or, the American Indians who once lived here blessed this place and made it safe from hurricanes. Or, the ancient American Indian burial grounds scattered throughout the county are keeping the storms at bay.
A number of other explanations for the relative safety have surfaced, most of them questionable.
Our “Magical” Sand
The magical, healing and holistic powers of Siesta Key’s white sand beaches and underwater crystals is often mentioned. Others talk of a mysterious protection from hurricanes that they credit to a vortex of energy they say exists near the rumored Atlantis crystal location.
The belief in Siesta Beach’s concentration of energy has at least some scientific roots that can be documented, and it has to do with Siesta’s sand. Whiter than the sand at any other beach in the area, Siesta’s sand is also known for its relative coolness even on the hottest of days. Those qualities are derived from the content of sand, which is indeed unique from any other beach in the world Siesta sand is 99.9 percent quartz. This makes the sand appear very white. And because of the way the crystals have been worn down, the sand is exceptionally soft. You also won’t find much particulate shell matter. (https://yogaonsiestabeach.com/the-legend-of-siesta-key-sand/)
The quartz crystal is a major element in today’s technological revolution. The conversion of quartz crystals into silicon chips has transformed the world. Quartz has made the digital age possible. It has given us computers, mobile phones and communication breakthroughs. Vast pieces of information to be brought together in a precisely organized way with the silicon chips of a computer.
So the belief that the quartz white sands of Siesta Key have powers that can keep the storms at bay can be viewed as a scientific, holistic, all around interesting one! Why don’t you come dig your toes into the beautiful sand and see if you feel some sort of center, relaxation and grounding….I bet you will.
American Indians Safe Place
The most prominent story has to do with American Indians. Evidence to support the tale does not exist, however, according to everyone who studies either county history or American Indian beliefs.
When asked about a myth spreading around town, county archaeologist Dan Hughes jumped in: “Let me guess. If it has anything to do with Indians and hurricanes, it’s not true.”
Hughes takes phone calls about the myth every year during hurricane season. “I’ve had Realtors call and ask if it’s true so they can advertise it,” he said. “It gets passed down from neighbor to neighbor.” In fact, historians have no idea which tribes even lived in Sarasota County. It is one of the few coastal places skipped over by Spanish explorers, the only people who wrote descriptions of early Florida.
The explorers visited the Calusa tribe just south in Charlotte Harbor, and the Tocobaga just north in Tampa Bay, but they passed over the stretch of relatively linear coast in between. One of the nation’s largest fully excavated native burial grounds, at Historic Spanish Point in Osprey, offers few additional clues, only that people lived in the area as early as 3,000 B.C.
The third strike against the myth: If the American Indians did believe Sarasota was protected, more of them might have lived here, But the population was not unusually high. About 2,000 people lived in the county originally, historians estimate.
“Technically speaking, Native Americans lived everywhere around the state,” said Anne McCudden, executive director of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. “We know they moved inland during certain seasons. It could have been because of storms or mosquito levels. We don’t know.”
The gap in knowledge is likely part of what keeps the myth in circulation, said Uzi Baram, associate professor of anthropology at New College in Sarasota.
“Folk tales give us comfort, so we use something we can’t disprove,” Baram said. “Native Americans to this particular region are a little past the shadow of history.”
Baram first heard the story at a dinner party several years ago.
“It’s like a lot of urban myths; there’s no origin, but somehow everyone knows it,” Baram said. “It really tells us two things. One, we are very worried about hurricanes. And two, we wonder why we’re lucky.”
Regardless of luck, hurricane mythology is popular in other places, too. The grotto at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in Key West is probably Florida’s most famous source of hurricane lore. Built in 1922, residents are known to line up there to pray. Many believe it protects them from hurricanes, even though Hurricane Wilma blew through town just two years ago. More info can be found at http://www.allaboutsarasota.com/legend.htm
“There’s nothing wrong with having faith, but if people believe that, one day their luck will run out and there will be serious loss of life,” said Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University’s International Hurricane Center.
Whether Sarasota residents actually believe the American Indian myth depends on whom you ask. There are the good ol Florida salts who will go for days and days with no power and then the Floridians who decide to evacuate to make sure the family is physically safe and maybe even make a vacation out of it!
Whatever reason people believe, residents have remained safe from these potentially monster storms along the Sarasota Sun Coast for quite a number of years. But we personally still took the necessary precautions to be prepared…Batteries, generator, water (in moderation), dry goods, and more.