911 Calling

For days, every local television broadcast and radio program, and every newspaper article, has been describing with increasing hysteria how we’re going to be wiped off the map by Hurricane Fay. Every little zig-zag of its path was documented and debated, and on-location reporters in rain slickers stood there (even when there was no rain and they looked ridiculous) shrilly but passionately repeating the same shreds of non-information over and over. You’d have thought it was the end of the world and the Rapture was upon us.

Ever since Hurricane Andrew in 2002, and the trifecta of Charley, Frances, and Jeanne in 2004, every tropical depression been a disaster-in-the-making. A tropical storm required hourly break-ins with news of shelters that would accept pets, the elderly, and people in manufactured homes, and details about closures and where to pick up sand bags, and the latest high-tech radars showing the storm’s path. And if, perchance, one developed into a hurricane (as three did in 2005: Katrina, which missed us but devastated New Orleans, and Dennis and Wilma, both of which hit us), it was All Weather Panic, All The Time.

Hurricane Fay has, as of this writing, passed over us, except that it never became Hurricane Fay but stayed Tropical Storm Fay. (The picture above is its current image on radar.) Overnight it may become a Category 1 hurricane for a few hours, until it swings back and hits St. Augustine, when it will become a tropical storm once again. So they think. They change their minds every three hours.

We had a hell of a lot of rain today. Sustained winds with some strong gusts from time to time, but nothing shocking, except for the bulletins about tornadoes that this storm was spawning. One touched down in Barefoot Bay, twenty-two miles southeast of us, a community of mobile homes made even more mobile by the strong winds. I heard that fifty-one trailers were damaged.

So I’m getting Mom tucked in for the night, and we’re watching a few minutes of the Olympics, when the phone rings. It’s twenty minutes before midnight. The Caller ID says it’s a 911 Emergency Announcement from the City of Palm Bay.

We get these from time to time. Most often it’s an Amber Alert about a child who’s gone missing, or an announcement that we shouldn’t water our lawns during a drought, or a warning to stay off the streets during a bad storm. But after hearing about that tornado to our south, we feared this was the City of Palm Bay telling us to run for cover because a twister was heading our way.

Nope. It was an Urgent Announcement that the trash pickup would not take place Wednesday morning, so we were not to put out our garbage cans, or if they were already out, we were to bring them back in.

Twenty minutes till midnight, and a 911 recording is talking trash at us.

That’s life in Florida for you.

* * * * *

7 a.m. update: Fay stalled on top of us all night. She’s moving, albeit very slowly, north along the coast, and is expected not to go out very far into the Atlantic (which is good, so that it won’t gain much strength), but will likely turn back inland and continue to drench us and our neighbors north of us for the rest of the day.

In Barefoot Bay, nine homes were made completely uninhabitable by the tornado, and at least two serious injuries were reported.

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Categories: Life in Florida | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “911 Calling

  1. indigobunting

    911 talking trash…perfect. (Were they worried about the high winds?)

    I do worry about hurricanes down there (and you). But there’s something to worry about everywhere, eh?

    We’ve had lots of heavy rains up north, but no hurricaney…

  2. The debate in our home, this morning, is whether (oh, how I was tempted to spell that punnishly) we should go into the office this morning for patients. Once we saw the roads under water, we decided if our patients were not smart enough to stay home, they deserved to come to an empty office if they got there at all.

    It is, as of now, fifteen miles south of Cape Canaveral. If my calculations are correct, and they nearly never are, that puts it about ten miles north of my house. About twelve miles NE of Craig’s.

    Moving five miles an hour NE.

    I wonder what DVDs I have not seen in a while.

  3. Indigo, I never gave a thought to the trash-cans-blowing-around idea. It’s certainly possible. And paints Palm Bay’s usual haphazard approach to community management in a slightly better light.

  4. Adam, surely Lee’s patients will call her cell phone if they have any uncertainty, won’t they?

    I swear, it’s raining harder right now than it was at 1 a.m. when I went to bed.

  5. A few long-time patients have the cell number. Newer patients have the office number.

    I am working on having a backup with phone numbers and have been remiss in not finding a way to get into the office answering machine remotely. Live and learn.

    Port Malabar Blvd. yesterday was an obstacle course of trash cans. A slalom of sorts.

    Not the sort I like.

  6. The only death reported so far is a guy who bought two gasoline generators, and decided to start both of them up at the same time inside his house, and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Sounds like a Darwin Awards candidate.

  7. indigobunting

    Just checking back. Hope you guys are OK! Do not get in the way of flying trash cans!

  8. It has finally stopped raining, but we’ve been warned not to venture out because almost all of the roads are flooded. We got about 21 inches of rain in all.

  9. We got a reverse 911 call too. The recorded voice warned about local flooding and advised that we should not drive unless it was necessary. I had to take someone to the hospital so I drove and I actually had to slow down on Babcock street to allow a fish to cross the road! I think the car in the opposite lane may have hit him though. I guess he didn’t get the memo.

  10. Someone needs to make a sign for that. “Warning: Fish Crossing.”

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