Thursday, October 27, 2005

Report from Miami

I'm in Miami, at the VA Medical Center, where I'm scheduled to have a CAT scan of my kidney (just diagnostic) in little more than an hour. I left Key West at 5:45 AM, driving in the dark for two hours before daylight broke. Then I began to see the debris alongside the Overseas Highway. I don't think that the middle and upper Keys had quite as much damage as the lower Keys, but their were many piles of seagrass piled up in various places, and boats on the side of the road that must have floated up from the shore.

David, our landlord, drove up to Sugarloaf Key (MM 20)yesterday to visit some friends who live there. They lost five cars in the family, all of them submerged in salt water to the point of total destruction. Dealers are bringing new cars in from the factories, since their inventories also suffered the same salt-water soaking. David says that the area behind the Sugarloaf School, where his friends live, was under five feet of salt water from the storm surge that came in from the bay side, the Gulf of Mexico side.

As I got to the upper Keys -- from Islamorada to Key Largo -- I began to see lines of cars waiting to get into the gas stations that were open. By the time I reached Florida City, at the beginning of the 18-mile stretch, most of the gas stations were closed. Here in Miami there are more long lines of cars waiting for gas. I have over a half tank left and should be able to get back to the middle Keys before I need to refuel. I hope that I can find something before it gets antsy.

There's a TV on here in the waiting room. I'm watching the continuous coverage of Wilma's aftermath, particularly as it is affecting the mainland. FEMA is here too, assessing, delivering water, ice and food, and so are the other disaster agencies like the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

I heard on the radio on the way here this morning that the organizers of Fantasy Fest have rescheduled the event to run from Wednesday, December 7 until Saturday, December 10, a much shorter schedule than the original 10 days of October originally planned. It makes some sense, because the hurricane season ends November 30, and early December is another slow period in KW, but there's no hope of it being the event that was planned for. It also postpones the opportunity for service workers to recoup their losses for at least thirty more days, another rent cycle.

I hoped that I might find wireless internet service here to be able to post what I've already written. No such luck. Maybe I'll find a McDonalds or a hotel with an open connection after I leave here.

The economic damage wreaked by Wilma is going to run to hundreds of millions of dollars. Some businesses, as I?ve said, aren?t going to survive.

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