Saturday, August 28, 2004

QUICKLY
My father has been given four weeks to live. Chemo treatments are over. He's sleeping a lot.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

FINALLY
We got power back yesterday afternoon and I got my first good night's sleep since last Thursday. I feel almost normal today. Word is it might take six months for the city/county to clean up all the storm debris and fallen trees. It's going to look like a mess around here for quite some time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

DAY FIVE, STILL NO POWER
This is getting really boring. I'm tired and cranky and I need a nap. My ass hurts and my neighbors lights are on, but ours are not. The streets looks like tropical version of a blizzard four days after the snow falls. Piles of tree crap line the sidewalk like snowbanks, but now they're dirty and wet and smell bad. People can get around, but you're never sure when you'll run into a blocked street or a traffic light not working. Every intersection is littered with broken plastic and glass car parts from previous accidents. Watch where you're going.

Monday, August 16, 2004

STORM UPDATE


Here's a little 40-foot branch hanging from the tree outside.

We've now gone three days without power, although streetlights came back on last night, so there's hope that maybe today will be the day. I heard Port Charlotte might be without power for a month or more. No power means no schools. Summer camps should be reopened.

The distribution of information by the government sucks. Radio can hardly be bothered to break from their format to cover the news (even if they had reporters and resources). The NPR station keeps loosing power and going off air. I suppose the newspaper would be useful, but it's day old news by the time we read it and this situation is so fluid. Are we suppose to boil water or not? What's the process for getting trees removed from your house? Your front yard? Your neighbor's yard?

I'm stunned the city doesn't at the very least have a system of tacking up notices to trees telling residents what they need to know. This is where tempers flare. We hear Gov. Bush on the radio promising this and that but nobody is answering basic, local questions.

Ugh

Sunday, August 15, 2004

OUCH
Well, Charley was a nasty storm. It seems our little burg northeast of Orlando was dead on in the path, albeit nothing like Punta Gorda down south, which, from what I've heard, was basically wiped out. My cousins who have property there said 5 of their 6 buildings were completely destroyed.

It's Sunday now and power still hasn't come on. Most of the damage around here has been downed trees, sometimes falling into houses. They are usually huge old oaks, but because of the branches and such, they seemed to come down gently. For 90 minutes as the storm passed by, we only heard a few trees, branches hit ground. When we went outside the next day, we were surrounded by wreckage.

Here are some pictures I took Saturday Our neighborhood's three streets were all blocked with downed trees.



Here's the tree part of that mess came from.



Here's the other part of it.



John my neighbor gassed up his chainsaw and we went to work clearing what we could.



This looks bad, but once we cleared away we tree, the car was fine.



There is some thought that a treetop-level tornado blew through our neighborhood. A lot of trees seemed to explode about 20 - 40 off the ground, like these.



Several other old trees were just pulled up from the roots.



Needless to say, some houses got hit, but nothing totally destroyed.











In my friend Lisa's yard, her mighty oak crashed over a fence and landed in her neighbor's pool.



Several billboards and stripmall signs are lying in pieces.



We hope power returns soon (Jake is getting annoying without a TV to distract him). The town said they might get to clearing away debris sometime next week. The priority is clearing roads, restoring power and pulling trees off houses. We're grilling everything in the house, so if anyone feels like a cook-out, come on by.

If I can get annoyed for just a second, I must say the local radio media sucked during this emergency. Just a day after the storm, there wasn't any real news being reported - just a lot of people calling in and yacking: "We got creamed here in Bithlo...you know when our power's coming back up?" It was like radio therapy and pointless for anyone who wanted to know what happened in the rest of the state. Real Radio, the Clear Channel all-talk station at least spread some info inbetween the stupid phone calls, but the rest of the stations either sucked or went right back to their format within 24 hours, running music and car ads as if nothing happened, forgetting to announce little tidbits like we're suppose to boil drinking water for the next 5 days.

It really makes you wonder what local resources these stations have in the way of reporters. Probably none, and why should that surprise me?

Friday, August 13, 2004

HERE COMES CHARLEY


The media loves over-covering storms because it's as easy as pointing a camera at an explosion and it makes them feel civic-minded. Today they closed all schools, but there was no rain to be found in the morning and early PM. I got home from work at 2pm, figuring this hurricane thing was going to be yet another weather bust. Then I looked up and saw this line of clouds coming at me. Ye-ow! I snapped the picture above of the storm line rolling over our house and started hiding backyard furniture.

This storm is moving fast. The wind kicked up from zero to 30 in about five seconds. Heavy rains came two minutes later. When I went inside, the TV was showing the leading edge of the storm coming over downtown (the same shot as above from a different POV).



Everything blew past in about 10 minutes, and now it's clear, with rumbling in the distance. Considering the violent thunderstorms we get daily down here, I can't say this was anything to get worried about yet, but there does seem to be a mess down south heading up this way. I've never sat out a 140-mph storm at home, so things should get interesting tonight.

Friday, August 06, 2004

SOLUTION TO PREVIOUS QUESTION?
From Vicki in Naples - "the state of Florida is currently (though the month of August) on a "gas tax holiday." This lowers the cost of gas about 8 cents per gallon. Brought to you by the Shrub, no doubt. Drink up!"

This doesn't explain it all - add 8 cents and we're still well below the previous peak - but it's a start.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

JUST AN OBSERVATION
A few months ago, crude oil prices rose and in a tight synch, prices at gas pumps rose too, right up to $2.00+ for a gallon of regular here in FLA. As crude prices dropped, gas prices dropped too. So why is it that in recent weeks, as crude oil prices spiked again at record highs, gas prices at the pump have continued to slowly drop, now standing at $1.73 per gallon?

What little conspiracy might be keeping gas prices artificially low during this summer driving/election season? Just wondering.