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Forecasters issued a hurricane warning
for parts of Florida's Gulf Coast
on Monday as the first named storm
of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season
quickly gained strength in the Gulf
of Mexico. And standing ready is
Fernando Garcia. that has lived
in Miami for over 46 years and is
a practicing santeria voodooist
in the Miami, Dade area.
received his Voodoo Baptism and
initiation in Cuba. As a Cuban exile
and refugee his family settled originally
around Miami’s Calle Ocho.
Storm Alberto is expected to produce
hurricane conditions within the
next 24 hours. Scientists say the
2006 season could produce as many
as 16 named storms, six of them
Last year's hurricane
season was the most destructive
on record. Hurricane Katrina devastated
Louisiana and Mississippi and was
blamed for more than 1,570 deaths
among Louisiana residents alone.
It also was the
busiest in 154 years of storm tracking,
with a records 28 named storms and
a record 15 hurricanes. Meteorologists
used up their list of 21 proper
names _ beginning with Arlene and
ending with Wilma _ and had to use
the Greek alphabet to name storms
for the first time.
The first named
storm of 2005 was Tropical Storm
Arlene, which formed June 9 and
made landfall just west of Pensacola
in the Florida Panhandle.
year is the 22nd Hurricane Protection
Voodoo Ceremony that will be performed
in this quiet Miami suburban neighborhood
of Bird Road this year. This particular
Voodoo ritual has been done each
time a hurricane forms in the Atlantic
or Gulf of Mexico and is to summon
the protection of the spirit world
against each hurricane individually.
Each time there is a hurricane we
perfom the hurricane ritual at a
moments notice. Each year it is
practiced with special prayers and
chants to their Vodoun, the Loa
Agwe. The personification of the
ocean, and the patron of sailors
Rituals for Agwe, (Agoue) are held
near the Ocean, and offerings to
him are floated on hand made rafts
or small boats. Agwe is associated
with the catholic St. Ulrich. Earlier
today as the first light of dawn
kissed south beach Fernando and
his group of 5 dozen followers set
afloat 300 small boats and rafts
into the Atlantic ocean as they
will do many more times this year.
Warning Issued for Hurricane
tropical storm warning
remains in effect for
Longboat Key to Englewood.
a.m., Alberto's winds
had increased to 70 mph,
up from 50 mph just three
hours earlier. The storm
was centered about 190
of Apalachicola and was
at about 7 mph, National
Hurricane Center forecasters
core wasn't expected to
reach Florida until Tuesday,
but with tropical storm-force
wind stretching 230 miles
from the center, powerful
gusts may be felt long
before it makes landfall.
Tropical Storm Strengthens
as It Approaches Florida
every year, there is a
pre-approved list of names
for tropical storms and
hurricanes. These lists
have been generated by
the National Hurricane
Center since 1953. At
first, the lists consisted
of only female names;
however, since 1979, the
lists alternate between
male and female.
are named alphabetically
from the list in chronological
order. Thus the first
tropical storm or hurricane
of the year has a name
that begins with "A"
and the second is given
the name that begins with
"B." The lists
contain names that begin
from A to W, but exclude
names that begin with
a "Q" or "U."
are six lists that continue
to rotate. The lists only
change when there is a
hurricane that is so devastating,
the name is retired and
another name replaces
tropical storm with winds
of 74 miles per hour or
greater is called a hurricane.
a Santerio or Cuban voodoo priest
Fernando, through divine aid, offer
help such as healing through the
use of herbs or medicines (using
knowledge that has been passed down
within the religion itself), or
healing through faith itself as
is common in other religions. "Voodoo
teaches a respect for the natural
real world." says Fernando."
It is very much related to the Voodoo
that is practiced in Benin."
"In Cuba, the Lucumi transformed
Voodoo into Santeria. " In
Miami you will find also many Haitian
voodoo hurricane ceremonies and
rituals taking place also."
Loa of the ocean, of ships
and boats, patron of seafarers.
husband of Maitresse Erzulie
in her aquatic aspects.
know now was a Category 5, before
it hit the Florida coast as a Category
3 or 4 hurricane, that potential
for large loss of life was with
us," said Fernando, "We
had heard on the news that well
over 1,000 lives were lost in Hurricane
Katrina and Rita. And I never want
to see this happen here to us Miami,
Florida or anywhere in the world."
" Voodoo is one of the world’s
oldest known religions, thriving
in Africa since the existence of
human civilization." "Some
experts have estimated it to be
around for over 10,000 years"
states Fernando." Although
its essential wisdom originated
in different parts of Africa, the
structure of Santeria Voodoo, as
we know it today, was born in Haiti
during the European colonization
of Hispaniola." During the
immigration of enslaved African
ethnic groups to the new world that
provided the circumstances for the
development of Voodoo. European
colonists believed that by desolating
the ethnic groups, they would not
come together as a community and
become a force against them. However,
in the misery of slavery, the transplanted
Africans found in their faith a
They began to invoke not only their
own Gods, but to practice rites
other than their own. In this process,
they shared a common cause, resulting
in the combination and modification
of rituals of various ethnic groups.
The fusion that came about, as a
result, is the different religious
groups were integrated in their
beliefs, thereby creating a new
religion: Voodoo. The word "Voodoo"
came from the West African word
"vodun", meaning “spirit”.
This Afro-Caribbean religion mixes
and practices from many African
ethnics groups such as the Fon,
the Nago, the Ibos, Dahomeans, Congos,
Senegalese, Haussars, Caplaous,
Mondungues, Mandinge, Angolese,
Libyans, Ethiopians, and the Malgaches.
government has officially
sanctioned voodoo as a
religion, allowing practitioners
to begin performing ceremonies
from baptisms to marriages
with legal authority.
Many who practice voodoo
praised the move, but
said much remains to be
done to make up for centuries
of ridicule and persecution
in the Caribbean country
of the Santeria Voodoo faith believe
that nothing and no event has a
life of its own. Each thing affects
something else. Many spiritualists
and believers of the faith agree
that we are not separate; we all
serve as parts of one. We are the
mirrors and reflections of each
other’s souls. God manifests
through the spirits of ancestors
who can bring good or harm and must
be honored in ceremonies. There
is a sacred cycle between the living
and the dead. Believers ask for
their misery to end. Hurricane Rituals
include prayers, to Agwe.
Ogg-way • (noun)
Agoué, Agoue, Agouet
services like these are designed
to make people feel good, not scare
them. special prayers are offered
at each morning mass during the
five-month hurricane season. The
Loa form a pantheon of deities that
include Damballah, Ezili, Ogu, Agwe,
Legba and others. During Voodoo
ceremonies these Loa can possess
the bodies of the ceremony participants.
Loa appear by "possessing"
the faithful, who in turn become
the Loa, relaying advice, warnings
A crowd of devotees'
and neighbors each time gather in
a circle around the huge altar in
anticipation of the approaching
divine hurricane protection ritual.
Holy candles burn near large statues
of the saints, five men and 6 woman
sit together pounding their huge
conga drums, and a Man begans to
sing aloud in a cuban tongue, beckoning
their great voodoo god Agwe to come
to them and protect them from the
ravges of Hurricanes to come.
The solemn calm
drum beat intensifies, and suddenly,
one by one, women and men and children
leap up, dancing, shouting and spinning
wildly out of control. Collectively,
they are becoming possessed by the
spirit of Loa Agwe and, while in
this mystical trance they will embody
his great power, strength and courage
to ward off the impending devastation
of this powerful record breaking
With their eyes
fixed wide, and great beads of sweat
pouring off them, drenching their
white clothes in the hot afternoon
90 plus heat, they dance madly and
frenzied and shout, and each takes
his turn bowing down in front of
the altar to Agwe. Praying and chanting
for his protection and devine intervention.
are mounted by the gods, possessed
as the American says." Fernando
explains, "We are not any longer
ourselves, no longer one soul, no
longer human beings." "We
are the gods." "It's not
magical halucinations, it's very
real." "It shows us the
power of Agwe and our Santeria Voodoo
beliefs at work!"
an infamous seaport in the West
African Gulf of Benin was the wretched
epicenter of the slave trade to
the Americas. A group of slaves
comprised of the Nigeria and Dahomeyan
Yoruba people were shipped to Cuba
(almost certainly through Benin),
where they became known as the Lucumi.
As it happens, the ancestral cradle
of Voodoo is also in Benin, a West
African country that sits between
Togo and Nigeria. From Benin, Voodoo
spread into other countries in the
region. And so it transpired that
Voodoo was also shipped from The
Gulf of Benin to the gulf of Mexico,
and into many other parts of the
New World. In Cuba, the Lucumi transformed
Voodoo into Santeria.
Santeria is but
one of several spiritual descendants
of Vodun, Vous Deaux, or Voodoo.
It is a religion said to be many
thousands of years old that still
flourishes today in many parts of
the world. Just in West Africa,
Voodoo currently has over fifty
million followers. Voodoo is a rich,
valid, religion, and not some Hollywood
movie world of Zombie's and pin
pricked voodoo dolls.
The Lucumi simply
superimposed the Catholic saints
and theology of their Cuban slave
masters upon the spiritual beliefs
of their native homeland. The merging
of Voodoo and Christian beliefs
produced Santeria. This deft maneuver
kept the ancestral Yoruba cultural
identity alive -- as well as the
Lucumi, for how could their intolerant
slave masters find fault with such
apparently proper Christian worship?
The same superimposing
of Christian beliefs upon Voodoo
happened almost everywhere in the
New World that the peoples of West
Africa were shipped as slaves. Thus,
various dialects of the orally passed-down
Voodoo tradition are practiced today
in many different places. Known
Santeria in Cuba, Vodu in Haiti,
as Umbanda and Candomble in Brazil,
Jamaica it is known as Obeah, as
Hoodoo in New Orleans and southern
parts of the United States. a version
of Santeria is also practiced in
Puerto Rico and in a number of big
cities throughout the United States.
The Miami Hurricane
Ceremony slowly winds down after
6 hours of wild dance and frenzy,
with a cool down period of gentle
drumming. Fernando sits quietly
and says aloud to all that are near.
"The Voodoo drums weaken so
do the winds of Wilma." "
Hurricane Wilma Beware of Agwes'
power, you are cursed and doomed
to become powerless."
Last year as
Wilma approched, on the local news
station a forcastor stated that,
Floridians braced for the impending
storm and were boarding up windows
and stocking up on hurricane supplies,
although forecasters at the hurricane
center said the forward motion of
the Category 5 storm appeared to
be slowing, which could cause it
to eventually weaken.
The fringes of
Hurricane Wilma lashed Caribbean
nations on Wednesday, forcing schools
to close and thousands to evacuate
as it churned toward Mexico's Cancun
resort and Florida after killing
at least 13 people and becoming
the most intense storm ever to form
in the Atlantic and enter the Gulf
In my heart I
pray that this is true, and maybe
by the will of God and or the power
Lwa agwe this will all pass.
Bush signed a declaration of emergency
allowing him to call up the National
Guard and put laws against price
gouging in place if necessary, and
evacuation orders were posted for
people in mobile homes or low-lying
areas in at least five coastal counties
including about 21,000 residents
of Citrus, Levy and Taylor counties.
gassed up their vehicles and stocked
up on chain saws, plywood and other
emergency supplies. Alberto also
prevented the crew of space shuttle
Discovery from flying Monday to
the Kennedy Space Center from Houston
for several days of dress rehearsals
for their expected launch in July.
tropical depression that produced
Alberto formed Saturday, nine days
after the June 1 start of the hurricane
season. The storm's winds accelerated
with startling speed Monday from
50 mph to 70 mph in just three hours.
The minimum for a named storm is
say the 2006 season could produce
as many as 16 named storms, six
of them major hurricanes. Last year's
hurricane season was the most destructive
on record and the busiest in 154
years of storm tracking, with a
record 28 named storms and a record
though Alberto wasn't expected to
become a major storm -- it wasn't
until Monday, when it jumped from
50 mph to 70 mph in a three-hour
period, that forecasters thought
it might become a hurricane -- Florida
officials weren't taking any chances
after last year's deadly hurricane
season. And neither was Fernando
or his cuban voodoo associates.
Be Prepared For
2006 Hurricane Season
Release Date: March 13, 2006
Release Number: 1605-196
-- With the June 1st start of hurricane
season less than three months away,
and work still being done to recover
from the 2005 season, the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) and Alabama
Emergency Management Agency urges
Alabamians to prepare early for
the upcoming hurricane season.
While all Alabamians
should have a plan for when natural
disasters strike, those who live
in mobile homes and travel trailers
should be particularly alert to
approaching tropical storms, hurricanes,
and tornadoes. According to the
2000 census, over 300,000 families
live in Alabama mobile homes, making
the need for disaster preparedness
a priority. Currently, FEMA is temporarily
housing more than 6,400 people in
travel trailers throughout the state.
begins with each family and household
having a plan. FEMA recommends that
you have a ready-to-go emergency
kit that will allow you to survive
unaided for three days. A kit should
include the following:
First aid kit
(including prescription medicines)
Food and water for up to 72 hours
Extra clothing and blankets
Flashlights and extra batteries
The following supplies are recommended:
NOAA Weather Radio
and extra batteries
Whistle to signal for help
A camp stove with extra fuel
Foldable ladders for second-story
escape in a fire
Photocopies of credit and identification
Food and Water
In addition to
an emergency kit, families should
be prepared with up to three days
of food and water for each member.
Basic foods, like canned foods,
dry foods, and other non-perishable
items are best to have because if
electricity goes out, they will
still be edible. Here are some tips:
Keep foods on
hand that everyone in your family
will like to eat
Avoid foods that are high in fat
Don't stock salty foods, since they
will make you thirsty
The average person requires two
quarts of drinking water per day.
Some individuals, like children
or nursing mothers, may require
more. A gallon per day for each
person in your family is the recommended
amount, say American Red Cross officials.
If you are running low on water,
don't ration. To lessen the amount
you need, reduce your activity.
If water is unavailable
from household sources, water from
rain, streams or rivers, and natural
springs can be used. However, water
from any outdoor source must first
be purified before it can be used
for potable or hygienic purposes.
Boiling, disinfecting (by means
of adding 16 drops of bleach per
gallon of water) and distillation
are the three recommended methods
Ready to Evacuate
Mobile homes and
travel trailers are particularly
vulnerable to severe weather because
of their instability. Since hurricanes
can trigger quickly forming tornadoes,
residents should be prepared to
leave at a moments notice.
A mobile home
can overturn very easily even if
precautions have been taken to tie
down the unit. When a tornado warning
is issued, take shelter in a building
with a strong foundation. If shelter
is not available, lie in ditch or
low-lying area a safe distance away
from the unit. Never stay inside
a mobile home or travel trailer
if a tornado warning has been issued.
a real possibility that your family
might face if a natural disaster
threatens your home. Every family
should have an emergency plan that
outlines what to do, how to communicate
with family members when evacuating,
and how the family should re-connect
in case they get separated.
Know the location
and best route for evacuation out
of the area
Practice your emergency evacuation
plan with your family
Heed local and state-issued evacuation
ready to leave at a moment's notice
"Natural disasters are unpredictable,
but if you are prepared, you and
your family will know how to deal
with them when they happen,"
said Federal Coordinating Officer
To learn more
on how to prepare your family for
the upcoming hurricane season, visit
or call 800-BE-READY. Materials,
including supply kit suggested supplies
and family communication plan templates
are available on the website. The
website also provides information
on how to prepare for all disasters,
including man-made and other natural
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