Nada Hassanein interviews WeatherTiger’s Dr. Ryan Truchelut why Gadsden County was hit so hard by Hurricane Michael.
Shirley Revell held back tears remembering the last few hours she spent with her husband of 59 years, James David Revell.
As train-like sounds screeched outside from Hurricane Michael’s howling winds and crashing trees, Shirley worried about something else — her husband.
He’d suffered a stroke about a month ago. He was hospitalized then taken to a rehabilitation facility in Blountstown.
But before the storm, she brought her love home to Greensboro, a small rural community in Gadsden County, where the couple lived since they got married in 1959.
He wasn’t getting better — couldn’t lift his feet or drink from a straw — so she wanted him home.
James died in the middle of the storm, at 3:15 p.m., in the living room where he and Shirley spent many special moments over the years. He was 85.
The hospice workers told Shirley there’s no way they could come to pronounce him dead and bring him to a funeral home. The conditions were too dangerous to hit the roads as Michael crashed into the coast.
“The weather got terrible. It didn’t get better,” she said. “So — we had to keep him.”
After midnight, when the storm began to subside, four neighbors and friends picked his body up and moved him from the twin bed in the living room to his actual bed.
Eventually they would cover him with a sheet.
“I just didn’t want to put anything over his head,” she said, her voice trembling, “but we finally did.”
He was transported to a funeral home the morning after, around 11 a.m. Thursday. He’ll be buried on Revell’s Farm, a 25-acre land they tended together.
Gadsden ground zero:
Hours before he died, Shirley said she held his hand and he would squeeze it back. After he died, he still felt warm to the touch. Shirley thought they’d made a mistake.
“He was my everything,” said Shirley about her husband, the man who enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Korean War; the man who was set on marrying her after seeing her for the first time at a Greensboro High basketball game decades ago. “He was so good to me.”
Four total deaths that occurred during Hurricane Michael were reported so far in Gadsden County. Torrential rain and powerful gusts that continued throughout Wednesday frustrated rescue efforts.
When she was told he couldn’t be picked up right away, “At first it upset me,” she said.
“But — listen here,” Shirley says, leaning in. “I was glad that I had that much longer with him. And at least he wasn’t by himself. That was a comfort for me.”
Reach Nada Hassanein at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @nhassanein_.
Hurricane Michael’s inland aftermath:
A coast in crisis
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