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All Pinzur, All The Time

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hours of (No) Power

Post-Wilma Day 2, and not much has changed.

It's been a number of years since South Florida took a direct hit like this, and it's been strange to live out the cliches that we've seen develop in all the other hurricanes of the last few years.

Most of our friends weathered the storm OK - we've only heard a few really bad stories. One couple in the west Broward suburbs, some of our best friends, lost about half their roof. They managed to cover it with a tarp, and luckily it hasn't rained since the storm ended, but it's going to be very hard to find a roofer for the next few months. Another couple - one of Lady Pinz's coworkers and her boyfriend - lost many of the windows in their house and took in a ton of water. One of my friends at the newspaper may have had pretty severe damage to her elderly mother's house in Boca. She went up there this morning to see how bad it is and start digging her out.

It's really hard to hear your friends go through this stuff and not be able to do much of anything. Supplies are hard to find (as are people who know how to use them) and it's risky to travel very far until more gas stations start to come online.

There have been very few fatalities - seven, at last count - so people have largely been taking the huge damage in stride. Condos and neighborhoods really do end up bonding a lot during these times. Everyone from our building has been meeting up every evening on the pool deck to grill whatever food is left in the Frigidaire and pool supplies of beer and wine. We've gotten to know our neighbors better in the last 48 hours than in the previous 14 months we've lived in the building.

The weather has been blissfully cool - 70s during the day, high 50s at night - so we've been able to sleep comfortably with the windows open, even without A/C. Not sure how much longer that's going to last, though, because the weather is supposed to get back to normal Florida levels by the weekend.

We have only the vaguest idea when we'll get power back. The power company said the majority of South Florida should have power back by Nov. 7, 95 percent by Nov. 14 and the rest by Nov. 21. My gut tells me we'd normally be in the first group because our block is all condos and they try to restore to large groups of people first. But we have a lot of downed lines on our street, so I'm thinking we may not get it back 'til that second group.

Frankly, if we don't get it back by Nov. 5, it doesn't much matter - Lady Pinz and I leave on a long-awaited cruise on the morning of the 6th and don't get back for a week. We've got enough food, water and wine to get through that time.

People are definitely getting back on the roads today, and that's not a good thing. Drivers have been surprisingly polite about treating broken lights (read: all lights) as four-way stops, but tempers are starting to get short. The few gas stations that have power also have lines more than a mile long, and we've heard about some fights breaking out.

The bigger problem is for people who didn't stockpile water and food: FEMA. Everyone's favorite disaster agency is coming under fire again down here. All kinds of silly administrative things have messed up distribution of water, ice and meals-ready-to-eat, according to stories coming into the newsroom and over radio. Trucks were filled with supplies but had no gas. Trucks got to distribution points but weren't allowed to unload because there was no FEMA official on site to supervise. Wilma hit 48 hours ago, but some of the sites still haven't opened.

We both filled our tanks before the storm, but I still have to come to work every day. I can probably get through the beginning of next week, and by that time there should be enough gas stations open.

Inexplicably, the generator at our condo is still running. It only powers the hallways lights and a few outlets in the lobby, but that's a lot more than most people have, and we're sharing the juice to charge phones and computers and run a few coffee pots. At first, I thought it was some kind of early Hannukkah miracle - the generator with enough gas for a few hours runs for days. This morning, someone speculated that our generator must run off natural gas. No one knows for sure, but that seems the most logical explanation to me - I don't think a generator in a small condo building would hold enough gas to run for 48 hours.

So, that's the situation as we find it this morning. The Herald is back at full power and publishing a full paper, even though many of our largest bureaus are unusable, so the newsroom is full and bustling and spectacular. Thankfully, we have lots of coffee.

2 Comments:

  • Glad to hear things are fine for the most part for you and lady Pinz!

    I would instantly turn all lord of the flies without power.

    By Blogger Pup, at 11:39 AM  

  • Me too. I'd be waving a conch shell around, killing pigs and shit.

    Hey, glad you made it through. And have enough wine to last until your cruise! That would absolutely be my #1 priority.

    Weird how a disaster can really bring people together as a community.

    By Blogger Sloth, at 3:29 PM  

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