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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Key West and Hurricane Irma – September 27th 2017

Key West and Hurricane Irma – September 27th 2017

Before I lived in Key West, I lived in Cutler Bay, Fla. Cutler Bay was about a thirty-five-minute drive from Key Largo. Consequently, Key Largo was a common weekend jaunt for me. I used to joke and say The Caribbean Club was my local bar, thirty miles from home.

My sister-in-law came over one Sunday afternoon and stated “I had such a great time yesterday! We went down to Key Largo!” Naturally, I asked where she went.

“The Tiki Bar!” was her reply.

My head shook from side to side rapidly and my eyes blinked several times. The Tiki Bar is not even remotely in Key Largo, it's two towns further south than Key Largo, in Islamorada (say: ISLE more ahdah). Here was a college educated RN, who lived in the area for decades and didn't even know where she was.

Every island in the Florida Keys has its own personality and identity. A town like Islamorada is actually a group of islands, each one different.

I run into similar things with folks from out of town, since I've been in Key West.

Friend A “Oh! We were down to Key West but we missed you!”

Me “Oh? When were you down and where were you staying?”

Friend A “We stayed at Glunz Resort!”

Me: “Glunz Resort? Nice place indeed! Glunz Resort is in Marathon, not Key West though. It's fifty miles north of Key West”.

I bring this up for a reason. I recently heard many people outside the Keys are saying “I saw the horrible damage and destruction in Key West”.

For starters, the eye of the hurricane landed around twenty miles north of Key West, not on Key West. The Keys that were greatly affected were Summerland Key, Cudjoe Key, Big Pine Key, Sugarloaf Key, No Name Key, Marathon, as well as bands sweeping down into parts of Islamorada.

(Homes in the Cudjoe Key - Big Pine Key area)

Many of the people in these areas lost.... everything.

A friend of mine who is displaced from her home in Cudjoe Key said “Thank God Key West didn't take the brunt of the hurricane. We will still have jobs!”

These people need soap, paper towels, water, food... everything. They also need prayers.

Key West did sustain quite a bit of hurricane damage, though nothing on the scale of those north of us.

I walked down Duval Street two days ago and I'd say 35% - 40% of the businesses were open. Cruise ships started arriving on Sunday.

Honestly, we do need a bit of recovery time. There is a lot of downed trees that need to be attended to, however, we do have water (thanks to the desal plant!) and power. We do not have internet, but most here in Key West do.

Rumors start, naturally. Someone told me that the eastern part of Fleming street is destroyed. Houses had collapsed. They said. I went there and no houses had collapsed at all. There was a very large tree down, however.

In Closing:

Key West did not blow away. Key West is, in fact, still solidly on the map and should be functional within a week or so.

Damage in Key West. Trees down mostly at this point. Businesses are opening back up.

The Cork and Stogie, 1218nDuval Street is open! This shot was taken on Sunday, September 24th


My brand new book "Time Traveler - The Oddities and Adventures of a Key West Bartender" is now available through Amazon in both paperback and digital download! The paperback includes the digital download for free!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hurricane Irma Refugees - Running From The 'Cane

We made the decision to leave Key West early in the week. So many factors came into play: Our house is in a very low lying area and  our two dogs were the biggest factors. We left on Wednesday for the six hour drive to our friends Kate and Jerry Kunart in Melbourne, Florida. It took us nearly eleven hours to get there! This was the worst traffic I've ever been in! Most of it seemed to be going between 10 and 20 MPhil. On occasion it would pick up and go 60 for ten minutes,or so, but then back to 10 - 20 again.

Fortunately we left with a full tank of gas! Gas stations either had no gas, or they had enormous lines. When we got off of I 95 in Melbourne, we needed gas, though we had about 75 miles to go before empty.  As we turned off there were several gas statiomns,all of which had long lines. Then on the left there was a Mobil station with open pumps and available gas! Totally amazed, we pulled in and filled up!

We arrived at Kate and Jerry's and hung out for a spell, then went to bed. It was a long day on the road and sleep came easy.

We were off the next day fairly early and we're very grateful for Kate and Jerry's kind generosity!

At first the roads were normal. We scooted across the state to I 75. Before we knew it traffic was back to being the sludge it was the day before. This went on and on. We get a break and suddenly we'd be going 70 MPhil for fifteen minutes. Yay! It was over and moving normally! Then, for no reason at all it was back down to 10 MPhil again!

Finally, I got the idea to try Rt 41. Rt 41 was one of those highways that was used before the interstates existed. It wasn't too far away either, only a few miles west of us.. we took that option and I wished I'd thought of it earlier! Smooth sailing, save for one minor glitch which we bypassed.

By the the time we rolled into Georgia it was getting time to call it quits for the day. Not long after Valdosta, we could see that I75 was moving again, so we hopped on. Finding lodging was virtually impossible. Dani must have made rwenty calls, to no avail. After what seemed like eternity, I spotted a run down joint. We pulled in and they had a room,

To call this place a Shithole would be a complemvent. Apparently, it had been abandoned for quite some time. Someone bought it and had plans of restoring it. In the room we had, the carpets were discolored and rippled. The metal trim ring around the sink was rusted, as was the coat rack. We had a lot of fun texting pictures to our friends and commenting back and forth with all sorts of humorous comments which went on for some time. It succeeded in relieving the stress of the situation.

The bed however was large and clean. We slept well and left in the darkness of 6am. Driving up I75 the entrance and exit ramps were lined with cars. These were those not as fortunate as we were. Without finding available lodging these unfortunate people were left no other option, but to sleep in their cars.

The ride from the file bag hotel to our destination in Harrison, Tennessee the GPS told us would take five hours. Again, there were far more license plates from Florida, than there were from Georgia, and this followed suit right through Atlanta!

Above Atlanta the Florida tags dissipated and Georgia tags were prominent. We crossed into Tennessee and reached our destination at our friend Danny Lynn's home in Harrison, Tennessee at 3pm, four  hours later than the GPS estimated for that day's stretch.

The first stage of the exodus was complete for us.  It must be noted though, at this point Hurricane Irma had yet to hit our little Island home a thousand miles away.

The generosity of Danny Lynn and his girlfriend Leather Moss On Shields has been second to none. They've opened up their home to us and welcomed us with open arms. We are very, very fortunate!

To be continued in the next blog.