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Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Disaster! Harrowing Storm Tropical Storm Frances A Study in Anti-Climax: A Timeline
Have you ever been so geared-up with expectation for something, and then . . . nothing? All of you? Okay, so you might understand how I feel about preparing for this devastating hurricane-turned-tropical-storm-turned-I-stayed-in-my-house-all-weekend-for-THIS?

Look, I’m not minimizing/poo-pooing the damage the storm caused to other parts of Florida, or the general threat that these storms present to coastal areas. I’m just saying that, had Charley not thoroughly fucked the west coast of Florida (partially by straying 100 miles off the projected course) only weeks ago, the population of Florida wouldn’t have worked themselves into such a froth; we need one of these every couple years to keep us on our toes. And I know that the hurricane mantra is, “Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best,” but, y’know, when I expend a good bit of time, energy, and mental capacity on preparing for a hurricane, I want the hurricane to bring it . . . at least a little bit. I mean, at least BE a hurricane when you get here. Seriously, I’m at work (and so is Michelle) but the entire state government, school district, and several major businesses are closed. I’m thinking that many owners, managers, and administrators were watching the weather yesterday (after declaring that they’d be closing up for today) and saying, “Is this it? Really?”

So, as Frances was cruising toward West Palm Beach Saturday, I began keeping a ‘bloggerly timeline of events. Which, in retrospect, was a build-up to nothing. But here is some of what I remember wrote down:

-- Saturday morning, as Frances was inching her way toward West Palm Beach, Mike Seidel (of the Weather Channel) and Al Roker were embracing and exchanging sweet nothings. The Weather Channel’s location-meteorologist abuse was a running theme through the weekend. My favorite was when the poor girl in New Smyrna Beach (apparently a former local meteorologist) was almost attacked by a flying piece of sheet metal / aluminum siding.

-- I would’ve been a lot more disappointed by Garden State if my expectations hadn’t been muted by my lovely wife. That said, I thought it was a good movie. Maybe not important enough to own on DVD, but I’ll probably watch it again someday.

-- In a testament to our fair city’s steely public services, our power went out Sunday afternoon before the first drop of rain and before the wind had gusted over 30 mph. It was out for three hours.

-- I spent an inordinate amount of my weekend locating, waiting for, making, and/or placing sand bags. Seriously. And that’s not including the ones that were graciously delivered by my father-in-law.

-- Sunday night, things started picking up a bit more. The steady wind and threatening rain wasn’t enough to keep Michelle from going to the club, however. While she was gone, I got tired of lying in bed listening to the wind throttle the neighbor’s trees (waiting for the unsettling crack of a pine tree limb/trunk and certain death), so I got up and played guitar. Which I almost never do outside of band practice or performance.

-- Soon after Michelle got home from the club and we’d successfully gone to sleep, a tree fell on her parent’s house across town . . . which we didn’t learn until the next morning.

-- At 9 a.m. on Monday, our cable was out so I had to listen to NPR for an update on Frances. During the press conference, the state meteorologist said that it was projected to make landfall between two particular rivers. I had to check a map because my Florida geography ain’t all it should be. The point between those two rivers is the part of the coast (St. Marks) which is the closest to Tallahassee. Shit.

-- During the afternoon, the weather was fluctuating between a standard afternoon rain and something moderately windier. My sand-bag breakwater wasn’t even being tested.

-- Thirty minutes after Frances (now a tropical storm) had crossed over St. Marks (putting it very, very close to us), we decided to go to Michelle’s brother’s house for beer-drinking and card-playing. Our respective toddlers would be able to entertain each other and keep us from going completely batty.

-- While eating their hurricane-preparedness food (Ritz Crackers and Easy Cheese) and drinking beer (AmberBock and Honey Brown), we played Texas Hold ‘Em ($5 buy-in) and watched our kids play with / fight over a succession of toys. Every once in a while, someone would lean and look out the window and comment on how little was going on.

-- The girl the Weather Channel sent to monitor Tallahassee must have been very, very bored. “Y’know, guys, I wish this thing would strengthen to a Category 5 and wipe these fuckin’ people out. And I’m so bored, I wish I could die with them.”