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!










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!