Like most of Miami-Dade, we got sucker punched by Hurricane Katrina. Several factors combined to make us overconfident: First, the track showed it going far enough north of us so that we’d only get tropical storm force winds … and we know we can handle that. Second, we had four false alarms last year, each characterized by hysterical warnings to prepare, all of which resulted in us hunkering for naught. Third, and no doubt following from the second, the media played this one very low key. Fourth, having gone through Andrew 14 years ago, a strong category four hurricane, or maybe even a five, the sound of Katrina, a ‘mere’ category one, just didn’t get the panic juices flowing.
It should have.
Katrina went south of the predicted track. The power went out about 8pm on Thursday night. The morning after revealed a scene of devastated vegetation only slightly less than after Andrew. Roads were blocked in every direction. Between here and the law school, for example, about a block and a half, the road is blocked by two gigantic fallen trees. We escaped quite cheaply, losing our favorite frangipani tree. Unfortunately, it landed on the neighbor’s car. Fortunately, the fall was broken by an intervening hedge, and the car has at most a scratch.
Caroline and I had a hard time after Andrew, or at least as hard a time as you could have when you hadn’t lost your roof. We had arrived in Miami only a few days earlier, had no hurricane supplies, not even a candle, and no idea where to go to get food or ice. The entire neighborhood was without power for two weeks; four lucky homes, of which ours was one, were without for five weeks. At night we would lie exhausted, overheated, by the open window that rarely vouchsafed a breeze but certainly carried the enviable and very loud noises of next door’s generator.
It’s not as bad this time: we have hurricane glass instead of those beastly metal shutters, plus after we had kids we bought a generator, and consequently we are able to keep our food from spoiling. There’s ice. There’s a light in the evening. We cook with gas. We can even run (one) fan. And if I manage to post this, we were even able to get the modem and router to wake temporarily.
Florida Power and Light says that 90% of the homes in Miami-Dade lost power. Of them 10% got it back by last night. They predict that 90% of those who lost power will have it back by Tuesday night – still more than 72 hours away – but that the remaining 10% may have to wait as long as Friday. Meanwhile it’s unclear when the schools will reopen (the paper suggests it may be as soon as Monday). And if I can get online, I’ll find out more about whether I need to get my lecture ready for 8am Monday.
I imagine there won’t be much blogging until the power comes back.