IRMA AFTERMATH

Irma came, did her thing, and left. She left behind ruination, despair and hope.

How things stand today.

I drove down Duval yesterday. From the Gulf to the Atlantic. Not a pretty sight. Most storefronts and buildings still boarded. Physical damage on a varying scale to some buildings.

The most significant observation was the desolation. Few on the street. Very few. Like death had visited.

The bars are starting to open. Rick’s, Sloppy Joe’s, Irish Kevin’s, the Bull, and Jack Flats. More employees than customers. Except for the gay bars in mid Duval. Bourbon Street and 801. Packed.

There was a FEMA truck on Duval. Handing out food packages. Only the minority community evident.

I mentioned the FEMA sign up tents behind the Simonton fire station yesterday. Only minorities evident there. It appears we have left racial/ethnic groups behind. Same as Katrina. Not in assistance today. Rather in becoming part of the American dream.

A cruise ship coming in today. Why? Key West today not the Key West of yesterday. Key West needs time to recuperate. Downtown looks like hell.

Three more cruise ships expected this week.

Some say we have to get business going again. Bring the cruise ships in! Locals need to work. Rent is due the first of the month. Only one week away.

I spent yesterday afternoon resting. Actually, sleeping. The return drive killed me. Just as the drive to Birmingham had. My 82 years very evident in the tiredness I am experiencing.

Hit the Chart Room first last night. First time the Chart Room has been open since Irma.

I was the sixth person to arrive. An hour later when I left, I was the only customer remaining.

Shawn bartending.

Peter Petro manages 40 properties. One is the home I live in. I have been bugging the man ever since Irma was on the horizon. Even now since I have returned. Cleanup time. I am a tenant, not an owner. A wonderful experience!

Peter does his job well, even though I am a bit too anxious at times.

Peter was at the Chart Room when I arrived. With his wife Rebecca who I met for the first time. A nice lady.

Rebecca marries people in Key West. She is a Notary and notaries are permitted to do so. In fact, most marriages performed in Key West are by a Notary such as Rebecca. Rebecca also performs live theater at the Red Barn. She is featured in a show opening next month.

Then to Don’s Place to watch the Syracuse/LSU game. Don, David, Stan and Claire there.

Sitting next to me watching the game were Troy and Jenny. Troy a die hard Michigan fan. He was watching Michigan on one screen as I was watching Syracuse on the one next to it.

Syracuse looked good the first half. Gave up 10 points they should not have. Still in the game, however. Syracuse defense played well.

LSU got another touchdown at the beginning of the second half. Syracuse was basically 3 touchdowns behind. I viewed it as the beginning of the end. Went home to bed.

Never even tried to find out the final score till this morning. Syracuse came back. Sort of. Final score had LSU winning 35-26. A late 4th quarter LSU touchdown led to LSU’s 35 points.

Syracuse was a 23 point underdog going into the game. Syracuse played well. They did better than LSU stat wise. Note LSU was a ranked team going into the game.

This is not going to be a Syracuse year. Better than most in recent years I suspect. Perhaps glory will return a few years from now. It has been a long time.

Yesterday was the first day Don’s was open its full hours.

Ice is a problem all over town. Bar owners and restaurants are running all over looking for some to buy.

Our animal and fish friends are of concern also.

A Sugarloaf homeowner was looking out his window. Thought he saw a porpoise stranded in the mangroves. Called the Sheriff’s Office, who in turn contacted Wildlife Conservation and the dolphin hospital Dolphin Plus.

Representatives of all three groups hurried to the scene and effected a rescue. Two veterinarians involved. They waded out to the porpoise. A female. Slightly burned from the sun. Otherwise, ok. Carried her to deeper water and let her go.

I received a red flag call this morning from Jeanne H. Stevenson. Not a Key Wester. Her sister Anne is, however. She can’t reach Anne. Concerned. Wants to know if I could help.

Anne sells newspapers outside the church. All I was told about her.

Anyone having any information re Anne, please let me know so I can convey it on to her sister.

Key West’s curfew was lifted yesterday. Stay out all night folks!

The remainder of the Keys still have curfews.

Comcast making progress. A step at a time. Too little from my perspective. I had TV when I returned home last night. Still no land line or wi-fi.

Sloan due soon. A ton of catch up work to do.

Enjoy your Sunday!

GOOD TO BE BACK AGAIN

Stealing from Mac Arthur…..I have returned! Gene Autry…..I’m back in the saddle again!

It is good to be home.

I got in at 4 thursday afternoon after two days of driving. Birmingham to Key West. Eight hours each day.

No question, a few days does make a difference. Specifically with regard to traffic. Little traffic. Very little. Only spots crowded were Orlando and Miami. I used the Florida Turnpike.

No waiting in line for gasoline. Pumps available at all times.

The second day was depressing, however.

I spent all day listening to the radio re the Mexican school collapse and the search for Frida Sophia and perhaps several other children. Drama! Heart wrenching!

Yesterday, we were told by Mexican authorities that there was no Frida or any other children beneath the wreckage. Alive or dead. The situation “not a reality.”

There has to be more to the story. Does not make sense to me.

The search for the children weighed heavy. To it was added another sadness. I saw what Irma did to the Keys.

Beginning with Florida City, a relatively small tree down here and there. Just outside Marathon, you could sense things were going to get bad. They did.

Beginning at the Marathon point and down to Sugarloaf, everything got consistently worse. Debris piled on the side of US 1. Furniture and mattresses. Refrigerators. Boats upside down. Cars on their sides. Roofs off. Buildings down.

Big Pine, an absolute disaster. It was as if King Kong had stomped all over it.

Summerland, Cudjoe and Sugarloaf hit badly, also.

I had been informed I would see many refrigerators. Apparently they fly through the air with the greatest of ease. I even saw one in a tree. A big one. About 15 feet up, laying sideways on a couple of big branches.

The damage itself was too much to take. Coupled with the little girl under the Mexican school, both scearios combined too much to take. Tears were actually slowly rolling down my cheeks at one point.

Key West was a different story. Damage, yes. A roof gone here and there. Most signs blown through. Trees the real problem. Toppled. Size immaterial. Big and little ones.

My new home is in an area covered with large trees. A cathedral type appearance over the streets.

No more. I was shocked! at least half the trees down. The roads one lane. Piled debris on road side heavy.

My new home survived. No damage. Except for a big tree in front and 5 little ones (20 footers) in the back.

I thought I was returning to full services. No Comcast television, computer and landline. All three I discovered have been off since September 7. One day after I left, three days before Irma hit.

Comcast no help. Comcast’s attitude always the same. Don’t care/don’t bother me.

I called to ask when I would get service. The operator did not know. Asked if I was aware there had been a hurricane.

I am getting wi-fi from my cell phone. A special app. Extra cost.

I went out thursday night. Duval Street a ghost town. Places still boarded. No one on the street.

Met up with John, Kevin and Molly at Bourbon Street. Very few bars open. Food, forget it!

On the way home, I stopped at the Marriott Beachside. Asked for a menu. No food! Enjoyed a drink, met some nice folks who live on the golf course, also.

Yesterday a busy one. Up early. Stopped at Verizon and Publix. Only one Publix open. Customers looked sad. Heads down, asses dragging. A remnant of Irma?

Also got a haircut, manicure and pedicure.

I was energized all day. Assume it must have been the time I spent at Jean and Joe’s. Restful.

Dinner last night with Don and David at Pepi’s. One of the few restaurants open. They were only serving off the luncheon menu and did not have all of the items listed. I enjoyed a huge cheeseburger.

The tree in the center of the outside dining room did fall. Big time! Never more to stand. Destroyed part of the roof portion. The roots pulled up half the concrete floor.

One thing bothered me. The FEMA presence in the parking lot on Simonton behind the fire station. Two huge white tents. took up 2/3’s of the parking. Roped off. A couple of hundred people going in and out of the tents signing up for FEMA. Mostly Bahama Village residents. Everyone happy.

What bothered me were the two Homeland Security guards/officers. Uniformed. Never saw one before.

Tall, thin, crew cut hair, blue uniforms and guns on the hips. Reminded me of the neo-Nazis in Greece I have written about many times.

Their appearance bothered me. I asked myself why does this agency need its own military force.

A fire yesterday. 717 Duval. Reported flames engulfed the building. Fire Department got the fire under control. the building housed a tattoo shop.

Food is a problem. There is  scarcity. Monroe County announced free breakfasts and lunches to all school children till October 25.

I compliment Senator Mc Cain on his Obamacare stand.

Two observations.

Google maps. First time I ever used the service. Off my cell phone. Where have I been? Wow!

The Key West Citizen. Could be the beginning of the end. The Citizen is downsizing. Henceforth the Citizen will produce only two editions a week. A weekend edition on saturday. another edition on wednesday. The Citizen will also soon be moving its operation to Miami.

Sad. A Key West tradition.

Syracuse/LSU tonight. LSU favored by 23 points. Would like to watch the game, never the less. Jack Flats still closed. Might watch at Don’s Place.

I will be doing my Key West Lou Live video on Facebook later this afternoon. A quick few minutes. Interesting dialogue.

Enjoy your day!

 

ANTI-SEMITISM HAS ANOTHER BROTHER

Moving on a step at the time. First with world news.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump both facing possible criminal charges. Birds of a feather.

Netanyahu’s wife is reported to be close to indictment.

Netanyahu’s son Yair recently made anti-Semitic comments on Facebook. A prominent neo-Nazi leader referred to Yair as “…..a total bro. Next he is going to call for gassings.” Yair succumbed to political pressure and removed his comments from Facebook.

Prominent families. Affluent and influential. Both screwed up!

The food continues to be excellent at Casa Thornton.

Ever hear of Blue Apron? I had not till last night. Blue provides prepared meals. Sent by mail. Prepared as to ingredients. Food provided and how to fix. Preparation and cooking the responsibility of the purchaser.

The quality of the meal impressed me. The work involving preparation did not. It took Jean and two ladies a half hour of chopping and cooking.

We enjoyed herb crusted rock fish, chicken ragu, greens in oil, and mashed potatoes. Accompanied by fine wine, of course.

Dessert consisted of three different packages of Keebler cookies. Wine accompanying.

Entres and dessert opposite ends of the spectrum.

When do I return to Key West? A minimum two day trip. I am getting all kind of messages from friends there. Stay / go. My decision will be like flipping a coin.

Everyone has water. Dirty water. Boil first rule. Toilets flushing. Water available fifteen miles north to Shark Key.

Gasoline available. No lines.

Power is sketchy. Comes and goes. I have power thanks to my new residence being near the local hospital. Means air conditioning. Impossible to live without in the Keys.

Three problems of concern remain.

Food continues to be limited. The old Publix is open a few hours a day. A limited number of people allowed in at a time. Government officials advising buy a seven day supply. The alternative for those returning is to bring a one week supply with them.

Flats galore on US 1. From debris rudiments remaining. Warning is be prepared to change a flat. I have not changed a flat since law school. Either the car will fall off the jack or I will get a heart attack removing the lug nuts.

Interruption: Re power. I had power. Do not have it now. Anna went to clean. Just called. Ninety five degrees.

Final concern is mosquitoes. I am told they are breeding in the pools. Ergo, many mosquitoes. I was told to return with bug spray. Lots. Also advised some are getting sick from the bites. One person said dengue fever. We had a case or two a few years back. I hope we have not returned to the problem.

Mayor Cates was interviewed on TV yesterday. Key West has a population of 25,000. Twenty thousand left, 5,000 remained. Yesterday residents were permitted to return for the first time. Cates anticipated 8,000 would return the first day. I am anxious to see how the returnees make out today and tomorrow.

Good luck contacting Bank of America. On the phone an hour listening to crappy music waiting for someone to pick up at the other end. A national number. I finally hung up. Both Bank of America branches in Key West closed. It is going to take a few days before my credit card problem is resolved.

Maria, Maria, Maria! She’s on her way! Almost the same track as Irma took at this point. A category 3.

Hope it takes that turn north out into the ocean.

Will I ever leave Birmingham? Nice place. Good company. Excellent food. Excellent wine. Jean is at the store at the moment purchasing another half gallon of Beefeaters.

It is embarrassing being an unexpected house guest this long. Already over a week.

Enjoy your day!

IRMA AN EXPERIENCE

Irma an experience! No question about it!

Not just the hurricane itself. The peripheral, the tangents. The whole picture.

Dinner the big event of the day for we evacuees at the Thornton home in Birmingham. A lengthy telephone call from a Key West friend this morning and other information I have obtained re Irma.

There is another world besides Irma. Time for me to begin a return to it. Slowly. ergo, I will write about a couple of non Irma items.

The  friend who made it back to Key West telephoned this morning. Key West not yet ready for people to return. Not unless they can do with out electric power, sewers, food, and gasoline. Which means as a practical matter, no air conditioning, toilet flushing, eating, cars to drive, and working generators.

I start with this morning’s phone call.

He and a lady friend ran off to Boston. Made their reservations to return to Fort Lauderdale. Plane reservations honored. $99 deal when made. Airline honored the price, also.

They had a hotel reservation in Lauderdale made a week ago. Honored, no gouging.

People trying to return to the Keys who do not have reservations have difficulty getting a room. The hotel permitted them to sleep in their cars in the hotel garage.

My friend rented a car to drive to Key West. No gouging here either.

Florida City the re-entry point. They attempted re-entry yesterday. His lady friend is a nurse and medical emergency trained. She has an identification card to that effect. She was going down to help. She was a go. My friend had nothing.They let him through because he was driving her.

The roads clear and repaired all the way to Key West. From Florida City to Islamorada, debris stacked on side of road and in the center. Anything that could float or be blown. More refrigerators than anything else. Many boats, also.

From Islamorada to Key West, no debris visible anywhere. The trees were bent from the wind. Items did not fly around. Wind significantly less than elsewhere. A reason why Key West missed the brunt of the storm. Fifteen miles closer and Key West would have been like Cudjoe Key and Big Pine.

In Key West itself, little property damage. Many trees down, however.

My friend owns a home in Key West. Very minimal damage to the outside of his home. None inside, except the house smelled big time. He opened the windows to get the smell out. His pool water was black. Trees in the pool.

Adding to the smell was the fact he did not clean out the refrigerator and freezer before he left.

Few gas stations open. In and on the way to Key West. In Key West, certain gas stations were pumping gasoline from the gas trucks. Not going through the pump.

The two businesses who appeared prepared for Irma were the primary gay bars. Bourbon Street and 801.

He enjoyed the evening with a friend at Bourbon Street. They had air conditioning, alcohol, food and ice. The air probably provided by large generators. The ice delivered.

He told me a large truck showed up in front of Bourbon Street. Dumped bags of ice at the front door. Then went across the street to 801 and did the same thing.

Curfew is from dusk to dawn. Bourbon Street locked its doors at dusk and was not bothered by the authorities.

End of the friend report.

Since the end of the call, I have learned other things which change or may change certain portions of my friend’s report. His report through last night. What follows from this morning.

Two people have died and 10 injured as a result of Irma in Key West.

Gasoline. Continues to be scarce.

Sewer treatment facility functioning. Some house toilets backing up, however. Those that have water or a bucket of water are able to flush toilets. Water still a problem.

Power. Remains a problem. From the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, only 7 percent have electric power. The upper Keys, 30 percent. The power people are giving special attention to Cudjoe and Big Pine which took the worst beating. Overall, there are 300 downed polls which take time to fix.

Airport. Still closed to commercial and general aviation flights. Expected to reopen tuesday for all flights.

Food. Old Publix opened for a few hours yesterday. Other Publix and Winn-Dixie in Key West remain closed. Publix in Big Pine opened only a few hours yesterday.

Evacuees. People like me. Though what I report is not how I feel. there is a rising tension being reported. Evacuees want to return to their Key West homes. In spite of the negatives I have reported. Believe officials too cautious. I do not want to get on the road till I have motel reservations where needed, know I can get gas all the way back. And when I get back, I have power, air conditiong, gasoline, food, etc.

Return date. Just heard US 1 to Key West opens tomorrow. People are being permitted to return even though things still not as they should be.

Some other bits of information.

Key West is located in Monroe County. Monroe County has one of the most stringent building codes in the United States.

Florida’s citrus industry took a beating. The loss statewide is estimated at 50-75 percent.

Re-entry stickers are being forged.

A rumor has spread that a truck was found in the Keys full of dead bodies. Not true.

Now to last night.

Dinner at the Thornton’s again. Two guests. Dan and Paula. Not related or connected in any fashion. Both Birmingham residents.

Dan an IT person for a hospital conglomerate that has hospitals from Birmingham south to Broward County. He visits Key West 1-3 times a year. Is a good friend of Jean and Joe.

Dan provided the meal. Bags of Mexican food. The dining room table could not hold all the food.

Wine consumption remained consistent. Tequila added. I missed the tequila. I was tired and went to bed early.

Paula joined us. A friend of the Thornton’s. Lovely and charming. Never been to Key West.

Dinner tonight at an Italian restaurant. My treat.

I was going to write of other things. The Irma report took too many words. Already over a thousand. I will save the non Irma news for another time.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BELIEVE

God is in His Heaven, all is right with the world.

The Lord knows everything, even before it happens.

He is all merciful.

So why do disasters like Harvey and Irma occur? Wars? Genocides? I could go on.

I believe. Though no longer a Church goer. Speak directly to Him. Generally in times of adversity. Rarely to say thank you when things are good.

People believe in different ways.

Which brings me to the story of Jackie Tee and a silver toe ring.

Jackie’s first trip to Key West was 20 years ago this month. With her husband, 4 1/2 year old son, and sister. Jackie purchased a silver toe ring. She has worn it for 20 years.

A couple of months ago, she noticed the toe ring was starting to split. Irma hit Key West September 10. That same day, the toe ring totally split. Jackie found the same ironic. Perhaps meaningful.

Jackie has a friend who she describes as a “new age spiritual.” Her friend told her to have the ring repaired: Repair the ring, repair the island. The two went together from the friend’s perspective.

Jackie is having the toe ring repaired.

As a side note, Jackie has returned to Key West almost annually the past 20 years. She says the island draws her. It does. Many persons.

Some Key West information.

Wendy’s hit hard by the surge. Seven to 10 days before lower Keys residents can return. No power, water, sewer, limited food.

US 1 bridges all ok. Side road bridges not yet tested. Road debris being removed.

Five food drop sites have been established. Food and water was to be available. People went. Only two had food. All 5, no water. People upset. The first rumblings.

Cell phone service spotty. Persons outside the Keys do not seem to understand. Many complaining why relatives and friends in and from the lower Keys do not call them.

Cell phone service went down 3 hours after Irma hit. I read a report which described the event…..Everything went eerily silent.

Social media has been the savior. I now understand why Trump went to it during the campaign and now as President. Facebook especially helpful.

Hardest hit were Big Pine and Cudjoe Key.

No casualties reported through yesterday.

Re-entry for residents and business owners to MM 73 permitted. Islamorada.

Dusk to dawn curfew remains in place.

A few gas stations beginning to open in the upper Keys.

I received a text yesterday from Shavon White. She is a producer at FOX New York City. She required information about Key West, identification of some who stayed, how to make contact, etc.

Trump arrives today to inspect Irma damage. A proper thing for a President to do. My question is why he is not visiting the Keys. Air Force One could easily land at the Naval Base at Boca Chica. A few short miles from Key West in one direction and Big Pine and Cudjoe Key in the other.

We in the Keys are people too! Could use the lift a Presidential visit brings.

Trump is visiting with EPA head Pruitt. There is an irony to the visit. Both have been working hard to cut disaster relief programs from the federal budget.

They arrive today to take bows for doing a great job in the recovery. First Texas, now Florida. When the budget comes up, they will continue to oppose federally funded disaster relief.

Now a Trump/Sessions scenario of which most are unaware.

Recall the federal program that provided surplus military equipment to police organizations. Police organizations included university police/campus police. What is known as Program 1033.

The program was stopped two years ago by Obama.

Trump signed an Executive Order permitting a resurgence of the program. Supported of course by Sessions. Intent being that law and order prevail on college campuses where students have recently become exceptionally rowdy with demonstrations.

The program is delivering to college campuses grenade launchers, armored trucks, pistols, assault rifles, etc.

The militarization of college campuses! Something like 117 already receiving various items.

I find it difficult to comprehend why military equipment is required to put down college demonstrations. The student will view it as police state activity.

I read somewhere that most students graduate with a debt of $37,000. That much money and they have to oppose heavily armed campus police!

Most campus police today are privatized. Bothers me. They lack oversight. Quick trigger fingers in the making.

Just received a call from Guy de Boer. KONK Life publisher. He was in Homestead,. Leaving the Keys!  Homestead has cell phone capability. Guy was calling friends to see if ok, where they were, etc.

He is leaving because he needs cell phone capability to run his newspaper. He will be doing it out of Miami for a few days.

Enjoy your day!

 

A RETURN TO NORMALCY WILL TAKE TIME

What Floridians are doing at the moment is not normal. One way or another, Norma’s effects are upon us.

Normalcy to me will be getting back to Key West. Just permit me to get home. Hopefully to an undamaged or minimally damaged house. I want to live in my home again!

Not that things have not been great in Birmingham. Jean a terrific hostess. An angel taking care of us evacuees. Accommodations out of sight. Great meals. A cheery atmosphere.

I am concerned about Key West itself. Much damage. I look forward to joining in with friends to restore the community.

Returning to Dodge not going to happen today or tomorrow sadly. TV and social media advise 7-10 days. A long time. Hope I can return sooner. Not only to return, but also to relieve Jean and Joe of the burden they have accepted. Taking care of us. No way can this kindness ever be repaid.

Communication remains a problem. Cell phones useless. Cell towers down. No way to communicate in Florida and parts of Georgia. I understand temporary towers are coming in and will help relieve the problem.

Land lines work. Amazing! The old still true. They are working because regulated and mostly underground. Jean does not have a land line. Few people I know have a land line. Even if they did, would not know their number. I only take cell numbers down on my phone.

Trump had it right when it came to social media. The only way Irma information has been circulated. On the spot. Quicker than TV.

Jean says spotty cell phone service has begun this morning. She was able to do a cell phone to cell phone call to Key West.

Throughout Florida, people and pets have been evacuated. There is a fowl breed that has benefited, also. Chickens. The chickens that run around Key West streets.

Tourist think them cute. Natives hate them. Germ bearing and dirty.

Key Wester Jayesh Mami was concerned. H is known as the Selfi King. An Indian. Works in the India store in Key West.

He gathered as many chickens as he could. Wrapped them carefully in paper. Only a bit of the tail and the head sticking out. Laid them carefully in boxes. Then drove them north on US 1. Where, I know not.

In the past few days, I have seen on TV videos of two separate beach areas where ocean water should have sat. The power of Irma drew the water from the beach far out into the ocean. Only sand and a few rocks visible.

Amazing power!

Of course, the ocean returned. Called the surge.

The USS Abraham Lincoln came into Key West yesterday. A light carrier. Brought in food and other supplies. Also the Lincoln will remain a while and its personnel will assist in the clean-up.

There has to be one asshole! Always!

I refer to Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County. He threatened to jail anyone in his County’s shelters who had a warrant pending against them. A leave them out to drown attitude.

Note warrants against people include all kinds of traffic citations also. Like you failed to show up in  court re a speeding ticket.

His deputies should be out helping people. First responder type activity and not jailing those with warrants pending.

A court order was sought prohibiting the Sheriff from such action. I could not find information re the outcome of the court proceeding.

Jean and her little group of evacuees have acquired a bit of notoriety in Birmingham. A TV reporter showed up yesterday. Talked with us and filmed us. We appeared on local FOX 6 last night.

Amusingly, I received an e-mail from Great Britain’s LBC yesterday afternoon. LBC is a London based national talk and phone in radio station. I am scheduled for a call this morning to be interviewed about Irma.

There has to be a subtle tension involved with  being an evacuee. One a person is not aware of.

Yesterday around 4, I got tired. Dead ass tired. Could not believe how tired. Slept on a living room chair a couple of hours. Ate a sparse dinner. Immediately followed by bed. Slept like a baby all night. Feel terrific this morning.

Did not drink at all yesterday.

Joe Thornton has not been with us since sunday. In Austin on business. Returns tonight at 5.

Don’t know if we have room for him!

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

I JITTERBUGGED LAST NIGHT

I am 82 years old. I have not danced in 20 years. Nor have I jitterbugged in probably 30. I did last night!

This escape Irma thing is full of surprises. The dancing one of them.

Jean subscribes to Pandora. Terrific! We were listening to ’40s and ’50s music. All of a sudden, Jean started dancing alone. Eventually, everyone. Jean induced me to jitterbug. Oh, the years I have not done it. It came back. Like riding a bicycle. Did some slow dances, also.

The evening was more fun that I have had in a long time. Casa Thornton an excellent place to sit out a hurricane!

The wine helped. I who have drunk nothing but Beefeaters for years am deep into wine this trip.

Irma was to pass over Birmingham at 2 this morning. Nothing. I slept with one eye open waiting to hear and see it. Calm this morning. Calm before the storm? Don’t know. I have a feeling it may have passed us by.

Our group of refugees has been reduced by two. One couple left for St. Louis. We are now seven.

The neighborhood knows we are here. They bring goodies for us. Birmingham may know. A TV reporter is stopping by at 11 this morning to interview us.

Don’t know when I will return to Key West. Bridges ok to last 16 miles which have yet to be inspected. I live 2 miles up US 1. TV reported a significant part of the highway in that area uprooted. To be fixed today.

There is neither power, water, sewer nor emergency hospital services..

No access permitted till all in order. Hopefully soon.

No question, we are an imposition. Not according to Jean. My friend for life! I will never forget her!

I reported some tree damage on my video show yesterday afternoon. I am going to repeat them and add a few.

The large tree in front of the Tree Bar on Duval gone. The tree in the middle of Pepe’s outside dining room suffered a likewise fate. Virgilio’s outdoor bar room tree also gone. 2 Cents’ huge tree in the back outside dining area fell also.

Chef Boy Ardee. Probably spelled in wrong. A big seller. Supermarket shelves were emptied of the product. Turns out, Chef Boy Ardeee can be eaten cold.

Many times the old is better and more reliable than the new. The story of land line vs. cell phones.

Few have kept their land lines. Most use cell solely. Only the land lines are working since Irma. Communication from Key West to elsewhere limited to land lines.

Cell phones not working because cell towers are down. May be a while till cell phone service returns.

I do my tuesday evening podcast via land line. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Can only use my land line in my Key West home.

Ergo, I will not be doing the podcast this evening.

Key West Lou Live continues, however. My Facebook video show. Via cell phone. A few minutes each day. Nothing fancy. Talk about what ever interests me at the moment. Watch if you can. You may enjoy. Facebook’s Key West Lou Live.

I am out of things to share. My relationship with the outside world limited. I have not left Jean and Joe’s since I arrived. We watch only weather channel news on TV.

Enjoy your day!

RANDOM IRMA HAPPENINGS

I feel like a refugee. I am a refugee. Fleeing Irma.

Some random experiences/happenings the past 24 hours. All Irma related one way or another.

The media has pointedly described Irma: A looming apocalypse…..The surge a minor tsunami…..A lawnmower from the sky.

Spent yesterday afternoon watching Alabama/Fresno State. Alabama killed little Fresno State. My hosts Jean and Joe are Alabama graduates and die hard Alabama fans. I was glad for them.

Followed the game up with a nap. Still tired from the drive.

Rose for cocktail hour. Drinks/drinking excellent! Never had a Beefeaters last night, though a giant bottle was waiting for me when I arrived. Margaritas and wine. The wine exceptional.

Dinner a holiday table. Great food. A neighbor prepared lasagna. Another prepared a Texas streetcake. Chocolate. Absolutely delicious! The wine flowed continuously. Joe started things off with a prayer. Called for under the circumstances.

There are only 9 of us here. Feels like much more. Fortunately, the house is large enough so we neither run into each other and can get a degree of privacy if so desired.

Several slept on sleeping bags and couches last night. Jean had two neighbors who offered private rooms and  beds. We all opted to stay together in one house. Team spirit.

The Sheriff moved the 460 Monroe County Jail inmates from Stock Island to a facility in Palm Beach County. One hundred twenty five correction officers went with them and will remain with them.

I do not understand why the inmates were moved. The jail imposing stone and brick.

The Sheriff also maintains an animal farm. Many animals. Well taken care of. A place to visit. The animals were moved from the farm to the jail.

If the jail is safe enough for treasured animals, it should have been safe enough for the inmates.

As of 9 this morning, US 1 not flooded. Except for one lane in Islamorada.

The TV channels are not reporting Irma properly. A lot of talk and next to no video re Key West. Everything video wise primarily Miami.

It is obvious there are no TV people in Key West.

TV is trying to fool people. They got caught by those of us in this house. They ran a video of a flooded Key Largo street. Water rolling as far as the eye could see. 2-3 feet. Two streets.

The streets were Duval and Front in  Key West.

Gotcha!

Saw a picture on my cell phone of a woman lighting a candle at St. Mary’s of the Sea in Key West. Large votive candles. A statue of the Blessed Mother.

The belief is if candles are lite and prayers said asking for relief from a storm, such conduct will help. I am not being disrespectful, but I have never seen a Key West hurricane avoided by such conduct.

Saw another video of the White Street Pier on Facebook. The Pier totally covered in water. Right up to the rails. Huge waves pouring over the rails. Two Key Westers running around taking the video. Finally, one of them shouted to the other: Lets get out of here…..this place is too dangerous!

The Marriott Beachside opened its doors yesterday or a day before to guests. Minimum rate. The place is packed with those who stayed. Like Mark Watson. The Marriott was built to sustain a category 5.

Mark Watson reported on Facebook yesterday that they had moved him from a first floor room to a third floor one. Sounded ominous.

La Concha is also taking guests. Built somewhere back in the 1920’s. Survived over the years. Thought safe.

I have considered Florida’s Governor Scott a flaming asshole up to this point. His political/social decisions rarely helpful to the populace in general. Favor the affluent.

He has turned me around. His Irma conduct beyond belief. His actions thought out and necessary. Like ok for a line of traffic to travel on highway shoulders. Move the cars faster!

In prior storms, all traffic lanes move in one direction. The game plan to get people out of danger’s way faster. For Irma, one lane kept open going the other way. Fuel trucks. To get needed gasoline to the southern part of the State.

Every conceivable way has been utilized to get people out of harm’s way. Buses provided. Sick and elderly removed from their homes to a safe place. Etc.

Reported that police and fire have left. Felt everything conceivable had been done to get people out. I would agree. I do not believe that some police and fire did not remain. My friends e-mail me that some have remained at the Marriott Beachside.

The Audubon House. On the corner of Whitehead and Greene Streets. Built way back when by a Captain Geiger.

In 1832, the famous bird painter John James Audubon spent 20 days residing at the house. He discovered 18 new breed of birds and painted them.

Our little group has some persons purportedly knowledgeable about Audubon in Key West.

The story told is that Audubon would discover the new breed in the morning. Kill it. Stretch it on something so he could paint it. Painted in the afternoon. Cooked and ate the bird for dinner at night.

It was the eating of the bird in the evening that I found extraordinary.

Those of us here are bonding. I am waiting for someone to suggest we have an Irma reunion once a year.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT TO CALL TODAY’S BLOG

 

A strange day. In the midst of other strange days.

Waiting for Irma!

I believe I have finally escaped her. Birmingham appears a safe hideaway. Hope I am not wrong.

I arrived at Jean’s home mid-afternoon. We chatted, watched the weather channel, etc. Joe came home and we chatted more.

Their home has a deeply pitched driveway down.
More than 45 degrees. All houses the same. One side of the street the driveways go down,the other up.

The homes are built at the bottom of the Appalachian Mountains. Actually near the bottom. So they have that dramatic pitch.

I missed Jean’s house. Had to turn around. Cautiously down a driveway. Getting out the problem. My car stalled almost to the top. Wished I had a clutch car at that moment.

Jean and Joe great hosts. Mi casa, su casa the theme.

It was only the three of us last night. Jean cooked a terrific meat loaf dinner. We knocked down drinks before on their outside veranda.

Never really talked with Joe before. An interesting man. He majored in history. Got a Masters in criminal justice. Wanted to be a police officer. Became one. For ten years.

Then a friend offered him a job with a manufacturing rep company. Big time electrical machinery.

Joe has been with the company 26 years.

A couple of neighbors popped in. Brought brownies, booze, etc. All charming. A heart doctor lives across the street. Has offered two bedrooms. Another neighbor one. Three others accommodations also.

True Southern hospitality and neighborliness.

My accommodation terrific. I have a large private room with a king size bed. I share a large bathroom with another bedroom. The bathroom connects the two bedrooms.

Two ladies arrived around 3 in the morning. They are in the other bedroom. With their dog. He and I have bonded.

Life goes on for the Thorntons while we are imposing on their lives. Joe is outside at the moment cutting the grass. Jean is working at a charity garage sale.

It is strange sitting here this morning. Knowing that disaster awaits. I am glad I ran. There are those who did not. I worry about them.

Some remained for financial reasons. Others because they only have a bike. The rest hard heads who don’t think Irma will be that bad.

I fear for all of them.

Lisa and family were at Cape Coral. When the west coast became the target, they got out. They are in a friend’s home in Jupiter on the east coast.

I am nervous for them. Jupiter may still be too close because of the width of Irma.

Talked with them this morning. The trip up went well. Except for Jake who got car sick.

There are many things I would like to comment on. The world, Trump, etc. However nothing is of any consequence at a moment like this, except Irma.

My day will not be bad. Actually, very good. This afternoon we will watch the Alabama game together. Following a lasagna dinner tonight, we will all be glued to the TV worrying about friends and home in Key West.

I find the sadness of all this heavy. I tear up on occasion thinking of what is to come.

Enjoy your day!

GO WEST, YOUNG MAN

“Go west, young man” is attributed to New York Tribune publisher Horace Greeley. He used the verbiage in an editorial in 1865.

Actually, Greeley lifted the phrase from something a John Babasone Lane Soule wrote in 1851.

Neither actually wrote the phrase as presented here. Each had a slight variation.

History behind us, I want you to know this old man went west. I am in Birmingham, Alabama. At the home of Jean  and Joe Thornton. Jean the famous Key West Golden Girl.

Both were kind enough to invite me. Worked perfectly. The hotel had no room for me. I could not get a room anywhere else. The cone began to run over Atlanta.

Birmingham is 2 1/2 hours directly west of Atlanta.

Traffic normal Atlanta to Birmingham. Gassed up mid way. Some pumps are empty. Not because of everyone wanting to tank up. I suspect the gasoline is being shipped to parts of Florida badly needing it.

Alabama a beautiful State. Reminds me of upstate New York. Heavy green foliage. Trees. Big. Type of tree different. What I saw today were 30-50 foot high ones not with leaves. Looked like huge Xmas trees with the branch needles stretching upward.

The Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta was some hotel. Huge with all kind of niceties.

I have been in Key West too long without getting off the rock. Maybe 8-10 years. People dress differently on the mainland. Long pants and jackets for men. I have no long pants or jackets that fit any longer. My only shoes are a worn out pair of crocs. Big toe peeking out on each side.

I talk with everyone in Key West. I felt awkward in Atlanta. The big city overwhelmed me for a while. Overcame it soon.

No question, I have become a Key Wester through and through.

A receptionist at the Marriott by the name of Ella busted her ass trying to get me a room. She did get me an extra day which I passed on. I feared I would run into the Miami escapees if I waited a day longer to leave for Birmingham.

A big hotel well run. Makes our Marriott in Key West look tiny. And we have the largest dining room in Key West! Atlanta’s could not match Key West in restaurant size.

Marriott’s manager is a Sean John. Left him an e-mail complimenting Ella and sharing my thought of what a well operated facility he ran.

Cheap, too. $137, without tax. I use a Marriott credit card. Got me an upgrade to a semi-suite that was huge. The Concierge Room was outstanding. Breakfast, hors d’oerves, and drinks.

I was on the 39th floor. Could not help thinking what would I do if there were a fire. Reminded me of that movie way back with Paul Newman and William Holden. A high rise on fire and a big party on the roof.

I never left the hotel yesterday. Never got to buy long pants and shoes. Did not visit the Carter Presidential Library and Museum. The driving the day before caught up with me. After lunch, fell into bed and slept 3 hours.

Kind of the Thorntons to take me in. And the many to follow tonight and tomorrow. Jean has been cooking ahead in preparation. Meat loaf tonight because it is comforting. Tomorrow, lasagna for dinner. Alabama football in the afternoon.

Joe drinks socially and smokes. I have a friend! Outside on their back porch. No smoking in Jean’s house!

Received a telephoned call from Marty Leshaw last night. He was sitting on a boat in Santa Clara, California enjoying a drink.

Marty and I were bosom buddies several years ago. Every night out on the town. Would meet first at the Chart Room. Moved on from there.

Marty semi-retired. He has a beautiful home on the intercoastal in Fort Lauderdale. Plus, a fun house on tall stilts which sits in the ocean somewhere. Marty figures Irma will take them both down.

Marty thought it was time to leave. His wife disagreed. Marty left. She stayed. She did not want to leave her son and family. The son’s home several blocks inland and she thought it would be safe.

Marty disagreed. It came down to …..I’m going…..you do what you want. She did. She stayed. Hope she and the family get through this well.

This is blog #2 today. I did a short one as I hurried this morning to get on the road.

Enjoy your day!