Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wilma Gives Florida Whiplash

Hurricane Wilma roared through Florida Monday with the speed of a shoplifter exiting your local mall. To everyone's surprise, she left as much damage on the east coast of the state as she did on the west. At the height of the storm, six million Floridians were without power. (That's almost a third of the state) Even today many are waiting in long lines for food, water, gas and ice. Forget earth, wind, fire and water. The stuff of life down here is FOOD, WATER, GAS and ICE. Did everyone forget to stock up on these items prior to the hurricane? Or were we mesmerized by news coverage that told us that Naples and Fort Meyers might be in big trouble, but barely mentioned Miami-Dade and Broward Counties? Heck, the hurricane wasn't even supposed to hit central Florida, and WE stocked up. You don't want to leave everything to the whims of a hurricane and the efficiency of FEMA, I say. I even have this cool item that provides makeshift toilet facilities....but I won't go on and on about that for fear you'll think I'm a nut. I may be a nut, but I do NOT like to pee in the bushes. Anyway, with prayers and best wishes for those who are still suffering the effects, I have to say Hurricane Wilma was a great experience for us, for a number of reasons: 1) Wilma body slammed South Florida, but barely air kissed Central Florida. 2) We had a day off from school and work consisting entirely of board games, eating and watching weather updates on TV. 3) We never lost power. 4) We were blessed with a visit from good friends seeking shelter from the hurricane. Friends from Buffalo have a winter place in Lee County near Ft. Meyers. Joe and Irene Lynch have known my parents for over half a century. Last week I got a call from Irene wondering if I could recommend a central Florida hotel. Her daughter Maureen (married to Brian Krause) and their four kids ranging in age from six months to eight years old, were visiting. They did not feel it would be safe to stay in their mobile home (a nice one in a nice community) with a major hurricane scheduled to hit. That's for sure! Even a Category I hurricane sounds like a helicopter hovering over your house. No, I would not subject kids to a Category II or greater. However I pointed out I would be insulted if their family drove RIGHT BY our house in order to get to a hotel in the Orlando area. Sheesh! We are the Buffalo Embassy to Florida! Just bring your New York driver's license and Erie County tax bill and we'll book you in a room right upstairs! I told my 4-year-old and 6-year-old about the impending arrival of four children to play with. (Although, technically, the 6-month-old is more of a decorative creature for playing purposes.) They immediately started "getting the toys ready." By Friday, with gas stations on Florida's east coast starting to run out of fuel, the Lynch gang (and for reasons of humor we also refer to them as The Lynch Mob) decided they'd better hit the road to our place before running into weekend traffic problems. The. Kids. Were. Thrilled. THRILLED! A whole gang of little ones their age to stay for an entire weekend and do nothing but swim and play games. On top of that, we did an impromptu trip to the Magic Kingdom on Saturday. Hey, no sense sitting around waiting for a hurricane when you can be visiting theme parks. It was a terrific excuse for us to get up to Orlando for a kid-oriented outing. We were sort of amazed, though, looking around at the crowd, at just how many people seemed completely uninterested in the fact that a Category II or III hurricane was swirling its way toward the state. Was this the equivalent of fiddling while Rome was burning? I hope not. And we hoped it wasn't a Last Hurrah Before Chaos, either. By Sunday the hurricane was too close to risk any more jaunts. Instead we watched the Buffalo Bills lose while we swam in our pool. (thanks to satellite TV) If you're gonna wait for a hurricane, that isn't a bad way to do it. By nightfall we're watching women with breast implants partying in Ft. Meyers and the Keys, telling TV reporters they're going to be riding out the storm on their boats. BOATS! I was picturing a direct hurricane hit, followed by thousands of loose implants bobbing around in the Gulf. However they turned out to be luckier that the people in South Florida who are now without many essentials, and a potential of waiting days or WEEKS before power is restored. I guess Florida's grapefruit and tomato crops got smashed, too. Which is good for anyone who still HAS a grapefruit or tomato crop. Now as Tropical Storm Beta is slated to morph into Hurricane Beta, I'm wondering who's going to step up and start pelting Mother Nature with rotten fruit. We had a windy and rainy morning, I think things only gusted to about 60 mph at the max, though, and with only one tornado spotted. No damage. Big sigh of relief. Thank You to the Lynches: Irene & Joe, along with the Krause Family: Maureen & Brian, plus kids Michael, 8, Andrew, 6, Emily, 3, and Kevin, 0, (as my 4-year-old describes all babies under the age of one) for being such great company to us and our kids. If you have to endure a hurricane, you want to do it in the company of friends. This time, at least, our wish was granted!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be prepared for the next hurricane relief concert or find another one that's similar. As the Boy Scouts say: "Be Prepared"!

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