This might be long, but the recent hurricane Irene stirred my memory. Recall what I wrote about Disaster planning at Tampa Osteopathic. I was dating Mary and Jenni and January were with me. Disaster planning had gotten a Lot bigger since my excursions into it in the 70s. They now published in the Tampa Tribune (and it St. Pete Times) a fairly large multi paged pamphlet that was in color. Different areas, usually related to height above sea level but also related to place of evacuation. I lived one block off Gandy at about 6 ft above sea level. Most of my problems related to the fact that rains didn’t drain off fast enough and here’s photos to demonstrate. When a car went by, a wave would go down my hallway into the living room. But that was just with a big rain storm. A hurricane was heading for Tampa at the news and weather was constant warning with precautions to take etc. For those of us who lived there, it was less frightening than it was to outsiders and people not familiar with Tampa weather. Mary lived in an apartment a short distance away and on the second floor. When they started recommending people evacuate we were prepared but the weather wasn’t all that bad. Rain bands and wind. So, we decided that Jenni and her boyfriend Phil, and January and Wilbur and I would spend that day/night with Mary. Wilbur is my African Grey parrot. Here we are all packed into Marys one bedroom apartment but safe and sound. Son Chris came by (or was there), and we walked down to Gandy bridge…about a mile. It was weird; very windy and occasional rain and not a sole around. The street lights were working and there was a cop with his squad car parked right in the middle of the intersection of Gandy and Westshore. Waves were breaking over the bridge but not much else of note, until we started walking back to the apartment. Another police car was coming right down the middle of Gandy and hit the other squad car that was parked as I mentioned. They were ok, but I could not believe what I saw. No, I didn’t take pix. It was just too weird.
We got back to Marys and the sun came out for a while then another rain band. This kept repeating most of the day. Our evacuation site was to go to the gymnasium at University of South Florida…a good 30 min drive. I have no idea who decided these things. So we packed into my car and drove up there to see what it was like. When we got there, the parking lot was not packed and the sun was shining so we sat in the car listening to the radio when I had to go to the bathroom. It was about 1 pm. I went into the gym and immediately encountered a line of people. I stood in line for a while and it wasn’t moving and I finally asked the guy in front of me why the toilet was so crowded. He said “Hell man, this is the line for breakfast and I’ve been here since 7 am. Oi! They had run out of diapers for the children, out of toilet paper, blankets, cots…I only experienced this line. Thank Heavens! I’m sure the next disaster drill went Much better. This was a LOT of years before Hurricane Katrina. One would think the USA would be better warned and better prepared. What will it be like when the first nuclear bomb is exploded here? With the number of crazy Muslims out there, I suspect it may happen. How many virgins? Indeed!