Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunday: Church and Carl Hiaasen in the Paper

Dawn came an hour earlier today. At about 7 a.m. we discovered that we had no running water. I immediately sank into depression and apathy, unable to interest myself in the solar cooker project. When the water returned, 45 minutes later, my recovery was instantaneous, too. I set up the new, improved, version 1.1.3 of the cooker, but by the time everything was in place, the sun was behind a big cloud. As it turned out, we had clouds off and on all day. As of 2 pm. I had succeeded in heating 3 quarts of water to 125 degrees. That provided a pleasant afternoon "bath" but it is not "cooking" yet. Just wait until we have sun all day. Today we did have bubbles forming on the surface of the cooking pot; that was a first.

I went to church at 10:00 a.m. The church property sustained some damage. At the spine of the roof a panel was loosened. At each gust of wind it flipped up, revealing a small patch of sky and emitting the sound that comes from backstage when King Lear is on the heath in the storm. Theater-thunder. The minister joked that it was "either an amen or a hallelujah" as God Himself commented on the proceedings.

After church I explored the neighborhood and found a grocery store that had just gotten its power restored. Since I was on my bike, I didn't get ice or water, but I picked up a few things and continued my explorations. I found a Supercuts that was open but by then I was ready to go home. It's next to a laundromat, so maybe we can work that into an expedition sometime this week.

Carl Hiaasen had the award-winning commentary on the storm today--much funnier than Dave Barry or Fred Grimm. Fred came in second. His theme was, okay, its' been nice chatting with the neighbors but enough already. I'd rather have cable. Ha.

The Hiaasen link has already expired, so here's the article, reproduced in its entirety:

Miami Herald, October 30, 2005

We Were Fabulously Prepared for a Hurricane--Weren't We?

by Carl Hiaasen

(Rejected first draft of Gov. Jeb Bush's candid post-hurricane remarks.)

My fellow Floridians,

Let me begin by taking token responsibility for the delays in delivering supplies to areas hit hard by Hurricane Wilma. The effort could have been swifter and better organized.

But, hey, didn't I warn everybody to keep 72 hours' worth of supplies on hand? Didn't I tell you to build a 15-gallon gasoline depot in your backyard?

Still, I know that millions of you still have no electricity, no food and no fuel in your cars--and I'd like to assure you that the situation is improving rapidly.

I'd like to, but I can't. The truth is, you're screwed for now.

this morning I spoke with executives of Florida Power & Light, who sounded like they'd been drinking heavily. They said they're awaiting a large shipment of Legos and rubber bands so that they can repair the substations supplying power to Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

When I pressed for a timetable, the FPL officials explained that electricity would be restored on a "grid-by-grid" basis, using the same giant dartboard left over from Hurricane Andrew.

Obviously, these are difficult times. Florida has been through something like 83 hurricanes in the last 14 months, causing approximately $987 jillion in losses--and that's not including the fraudulent claims.

A major concern is, of course, the fuel supply. The good news is that South Florida has plenty of gas. The bad news is that we can't get it out of the ground.

Apparently, service stations actually need a flow of electricity to operate the gasoline pumps. It would have been nice if somebody had told me sooner.

Next time, I promise, we'll rent truckloads of exorbitantly overpriced generators from politically connected vendors and provide them to gas stations in advance of the storm.

Since I've been getting calls from the travel industry, let me take this opportunity to urge tourists not to cancel their vacations to South Florida. The weather is fantastic, the beaches are gorgeous, and the traffic is, for obvious reasons, exceptionally light.

You will need to bring your own siphon, ice, refreshments, and possibly a large-caliber handgun to protect yourself from desperate civilians.

Speaking of desperation, many of you are listening to me now in your car, waiting in line for $20 worth of high-octane that will barely get you home. Some of you may even be trying to put your foot through the radio, you're so pissed off.

All I can say is: Who the heck knew?

Wilma was no Katrina. It was supposed to blow down a few trailers, not cripple the infrastructure of our three most overpopulated counties.

Only days earlier, I'd bragged to a congressional panel about how fabulously prepared for hurricanes we were. Florida knows the drill, I said. Don't worry about us.

Now you turn on the tv--if you're lucky enough to have juice--and there's bedlam in the streets. How do you think that makes me look?

A few so-called experts say they aren't surprised that Wilma caused such a mess. They say it was inevitable, with six million people crammed onto the tip of a low-lying peninsula in a hurricane zone.

I'd like to promise that we'll do a better job of managing coastal development in the future, but who am I kidding? We don't have the stones to say enough is enough. We'll let 'em keep on building subdivisions until every last acre is gone.

In other words, you don't want to be around when the Cat 5 hits.

Finally, I know some of you were nervous to see my brother fly in last week for a tour of the storm damage. Let me assure you that there will be no repeat of what happened--or didn't happen--on the Gulf coast after Katrina.

So far, FEMA has done a stellar job on the Wilma front. For example, none of the relief supplies set aside for South Florida have been sent to Guam or even Utah by mistake.

Yes, there have been delays, bad information, and mass confusion. Too many distribution sites have run short of ice and water, leaving thousands of people angry and empty-handed.

But don't blame the federal government, especially not my brother. Haven't you been reading the polls? Leave the poor guy alone.

You want to blame somebody for Wilma's mess, blame me. Or better yet, blame yourselves for not listening to me. Didn't I tell every homeowner to install an industrial-sized walk-in freezer with a propane-powered ice-making machine?

A long road lies ahead. Just remember that today will be about the same as yesterday, tomorrow will be no different than today, and next week will probably be the same dull, grueling blur.

As your governor and the leader of hurricane recovery, I'd like to urge Floridians not to get to discouraged, depressed or homicidal. I'd like to tell you that, but I can't.

This is the absolute pits. I am so glad to be up here in Tallahassee, you have no idea.

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