The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Monday, September 06, 2004

More Hurricane Thoughts

Today is Labor Day, and I thought that by this time today I’d be preparing my car with tailgate supplies as we got ready to head over to the Orange Bowl to see the Canes and Noles square off yet again. I’m not doing that today though. The game’s been rescheduled, and I’m more fortunate than many of my neighbors that the rescheduling of the game is about the only issue facing me today. As I write this, I’m sitting in my apartment, typing on my laptop, and making use of my wireless internet connection. In a little bit I’ll probably head outside for a bite to eat and to just spend some time outside of the house.

Literally millions of people across Florida can’t do that today because they are either literally trapped inside their homes (like my parents - in Tampa) because of flooding, and/or are without power (my parents too), or worse - their house has already flooded, lost a roof, or been otherwise damaged (thankfully my parents - and so far everyone else I know - do not fall into this group). For these folks, there are much bigger issues than the rescheduling of a football game.

As always with these kinds of storms and natural disasters, there were a number of storylines. From a South Florida perspective, there was the dog that found its way to the Channel 10 - our local ABC affiliate - studios, where it was quickly adopted by the on-air staff. Well, at least until the dog’s caretaker saw him on television and called in to inquire about picking him up. There was also the sad tale of an older fellow who’s house and classic car - what looked to be his only possessions in the world and which were modest at best - were simply picked up by the storm, dropped and destroyed. Still this gentleman insisted that he would sleep in his house tonight, as he had done every night for the thirty years before last night. We’ll probably never know the end of his tale, because the camera crews have now left, but I’m sure that man is not alone in his plight.

Those of you who aren’t here are probably still asking yourself - if not moreso than ever - why any of us lives in Florida. You’ve been looking at the radar and satellite images where the entire state of Florida has essentially disappeared from the map since Thursday. Well, part of it is that you just have to live here yourself to appreciate it. Part of it is, of course, the allure of the ocean. Sure, the Atlantic is accessible all the way up the east coast, the Gulf can be found all the way between Florida and Texas, and the Pacific surrounds Hawaii and can be found all up and down the west coast. None of those are exactly the same as what you get in Florida though - the temperature in the water is warmer, and the water is clearer anywhere you’ll find between here and the Caribbean. In terms of regular weather, it’s hard to beat Florida - particularly South Florida. Those of us who have been here for awhile don’t really understand seasons anymore. Our weather generally ranges from hot to pleasant. Anything less than seventy degrees - literally, keep an eye on the weather this winter - is cold to us in Miami. That’s a big part of the appeal to a lot of us.

And not to make light of it, but the trade-off for the weather and the location is the threat of hurricanes. Most of us are willing to accept that trade-off, especially when it comes in place of earthquakes and blizzards. Unlike other weather phenomenon, people feel somewhat comforted by hurricanes in that you get advance warning. There is time to prepare. There is always a chance that the forecast could be wrong and that the storm will miss you (and the flip side is the opposite). Plus the threat of a hurricane doesn’t strike that often. Sure, it has lately, but this is a historically unprecedented time. That’s not to diminish what’s happening now and what has already happened. It’s scary and these storms are big. Never before have two storms of such magnitude, in Charley and Frances, threatened one state (Florida) in less than one month’s time. And now, in about another week or so, another large storm, Ivan, threatens us in Florida yet again. It’s a long ways away and it could miss us completely or be a direct hit on another major population center. Hopefully my run of good luck with these storms will continue.


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