Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Deadline for Complaints was Yesterday

RUMINATION FROM THE ROCK AND BEYOND

What are the chances of a father in Florida and a son in Mississippi both having their houses destroyed by different hurricanes (Irma and Katrina) in different years, but on the same day, September 10th?

What are the chances of a father in Florida and a son in Mississippi both having their houses destroyed by different hurricanes (Irma and Katrina) in different years, but on the same day, September 10th?

Mathematician alert! What are the chances of a father in Florida and a son in Mississippi both having their houses destroyed by different hurricanes (Irma and Katrina) in different years, but on the same day, September 10th? I won’t even pretend to know how to determine the odds on this, but if YOU can, call me and I’ll buy the lottery tickets for us to split! This is a true story and, sadly, involves my family. But, there’s no sense dwelling (pun intended) on lost dwellings.

 

 

A friend of mine was doing her usual walking regimen in the morning light around her neighborhood in Naples, grateful to be alive with air conditioning and power restored, when a woman accosted her and complained about “all the horticulture debris that hadn’t been picked up and wasn’t it just terribly unsightly?” Standing in front of her ostentatious house with her scathing critique, she was perhaps fantasizing about another world where debris including the entire county and state, can be magically scooped up and teleported overnight to some humungous piece of public property with all permitting and permissions in place, that has access roads and space around it to shield the nearby residents from lightning-caused debris fires. Not to mention the damaged household piles that need a new place to reside.

As you drive farther south in Lee and Collier counties, the destruction increases from foliage to housing with more total destruction in areas where there are mobile homes and those older homes that weren’t built to today’s codes. Say what you will about the codes and the red tape to incorporate them; those new homes incurred less damage than the others in our neighborhood on Isles of Capri.

If this is a true story, and I find it disconcerting, people who were waiting in gas lines for long periods of time were chastised by police that they could not “park” on the main roads and would get a ticket if they stayed there. Is this really true? Did they turn their engines off to conserve the little gas they had? Is that what made it a “parking” violation?

Everybody needed gas, for their cars, for their generators or to rescue grandma from her flooded residence. Did we even predict that gas would be such a precious commodity that it took hours waiting to get enough to make it to the next gas station to fill up with the scanty amount they allowed?

Some evacuees spent 27 hours in their cars trying to evacuate Florida, most of the time in bumper to bumper traffic going nowhere with road rage surrounding their anxiety of not making it to safety, whether they were lucky enough to have a reservation or had to drive farther than they ever imagined to find refuge.

What motivation incites drivers to drive in the medians or on the shoulders to pass one or two cars toward their destination? Is it the raging wife/husband or snarling kids that are propelling the driver to unconscionable driving mania? And after the storm, If you were on Collier Boulevard driving to Marco Island when the power lines were being repaired and traffic was sometimes backed up to I-75, you undoubtedly experienced badly behaved drivers that boiled your blood.

Complaints about stores/restaurants that weren’t open? REALLY? How did you think they were getting their merchandise or supplies? Helicopter? Submarine? Parachutes? Teleporters? They had to drive the same paths that you did and endure the same challenges with the same information that you were given about Irma’s path – that means TRUCKS. Yes, there were frustrations and delays, but the bottom line is that with all the unpredictability of a hurricane of this caliber, we are all fortunate to have power, to be receiving the news, having the Coastal Breeze News on the stands and online for the community and moving forward with thoughtful dialogue meant to enhance success for our community in the future.

October will bring cooler weather, clearer water, continued cooperation between neighbors and agencies and collaborative efforts to prepare better for the next time. With candid communication (and no finger pointing), we can rebuild and clean up with renewed confidence.

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!

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