Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dave Barry's Advice for Riding Out a Florida Hurricane

This is the season when I bite my nails and worry about hurricanes, especially The Big One. Everybody who lives in Florida lives under this cloud of doom that they are due for The Big One each year. And some years, they've gotten them. But even back in the 1980s, a decade when Florida never saw a major hurricane, every year we geared up for the Perfect Storm. In fact, as each uneventful year passed, we grew more fearful. Surely, next season we'd pay for all those balmy summers when we dodged the bullet. I left Florida because of hurricane season. Not the hurricanes mind you. The neurotic anxiety.

But my 93 year old dad is still down in Fort Lauderdale. So as Tropical Storm Fay comes ashore on the West Coast, but lashes the whole southern tip of Florida, I hold my breath and pray he's ok. He weathered Wilma a few years ago. But he's older now. If the power goes out, it will be much more difficult for him to climb the one flight of stairs to get to his condo. Especially if it's humid out.

Meanwhile, for a little levity about South Florida and the craziness known as hurricane season, here's an old column from Dave Barry. This excerpt about sums it up:
We're entering the heart of hurricane season. Any day now, you're going to turn on the TV and see a weatherperson pointing to some radar blob out in the Atlantic and making two basic meteorological points:

* There is no need to panic.

* We could all be killed.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be in South Florida. If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by "the big one." The best way to get information on this topic is to ask people who were here during Hurricane Andrew (we're easy to recognize, because we still smell faintly of b.o. mixed with gasoline). Based on our experiences, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan: STEP 1. Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days. STEP 2. Put these supplies into your car. STEP 3. Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.
And here's one snippet more:

We'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:

HOMEOWNERS' INSURANCE: If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements: (1) It is reasonably well-built, and (2) It is located in Nebraska.

Unfortunately, if your home is located in South Florida, or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place. So you'll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss. Since Hurricane Andrew, I have had an estimated 27 different home-insurance companies. This week, I'm covered by the Bob and Big Stan Insurance Company, under a policy which states that, in addition to my premium, Bob and Big Stan are entitled, on demand, to my kidneys.

For Dave's expert advice for riding out a typical South Florida hurricane, you'll have to read the rest of his column. It made me laugh on a day when I needed it.

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