Before I am accused of being an unfeeling Yankee, I have relatives and friends on both coasts of Florida. I hear a lot of details from them that never make it on TV.

Evacuation Plans------They talk about "Definite need to evacuate immediately!" Well, My roving reporters in Florida talked to several people about why that evacuation order is not being followed as strictly as they wanted it to.

INTERVIEW WITH GAS STATION OWNER, Bennie Cashcow.

"Hey, you know what gets me? I'm doing my best to keep up with the demand for gas when one of these here hurricanes hits. I don't put up the price of my gas when they calls for the evac! I usually put it up at least 3 or 4 days BEFORE it's due to smack down. I have a lot of friends in the NOAA people, those guys who track them suckers from Ayfrica?

They always call me up and say. "Benny? Get ready for another one coming next week." Way before they start talking about it on TV. I do them a big favor too and let them buy the gas for all them trucks from the Weather Channel at the old price. Some of them local channels have a deal with me too and I always let them do some film of my gas station marquee roof getting ready to blow off. I have about 12 of them that I stick back up as soon as the storm is done. It's good advertising for me when I do get more gas to sell. I run out pretty quick after them weather guys fill up and know some people are trying to get to other places but if I'm out----Tough Luck! I don't put the price back down until about 2 weeks afterwards. I don't want to get in any trouble with the Governor who says that he don't want the Gas Stations 'taking advantage' of the people during an emergency. That's why I start early. I just love them weather forecasters!"

INTERVIEW WITH LUMBERYARD MANAGER.


"Hey! Don't use my name, OK? Some people get all riled up with the storms and I am planning on retiring before Christmas anyway. Moving to Beverly Hills, me and the whole family." said Homer Grabsalot. "I know that some folks swear that the price of plywood here goes up when the first storm watch goes out and that just ain't true! I keep the price the same from June to the first week of December. It ain't my fault if them rednecks wait until the last minute to buy plywood. They been told to evacuate and they have all these dumb excuses why they don't. 'I can't get no gas!

The roads is all jammed up. I had to wait for payday.' I have a very good kind of plywood here and it is worth what I charge for it. It costs me a lot of money to buy up them forests in Canada and pay the lumber mills to make it into plywood. They shoulda bought it before they moved down here! I do have some 'special' plywood available. I call it 'previously owned and cured'. Some of my guys go out and find it where it gets blowed off from places where people didn't nail it down proper. I have to charge a little more for that stuff because it's already been proven to withstand a storm-----more or less."

INTERVIEW WITH TRAFFIC COORDINATOR


Head Chief of Staff General Spitzanfartz-----" The trouble with getting people to evacuate is some of them argue about where we are telling them to evacuate to.

They think that they know best and they don't want to go to Key West! HAHA! That's where there's room for them,,,,,I don't know why they don't understand that.

They come to the highway and want to be heading for Frogfoot Georgia. Now if there's a hurricane coming to hit say,,Fort Lauderdale, I'm going to be sending them to places that's close so they don't have to be driving too far---say Miami or someplace like that. Then they complain that the roads are all cloggetyed up. That's not something that I can do anything about! If I got a 3 lane highway going west and a 3 lane highway heading east toward the storm, I gotta close off 2 lanes in the westbound side so I can make at least 5 lanes for all the Weather Channel trucks and all them reporters that want to come in and show the damages and such. Hey, those are the ones who let the rest of the country know what a hurricane looks like. I mean if you lived in someplace like Idaho, you'd WANT to know what a hurricane is like.......Right?

Some of them Weather Trucks is BIG! Why during Frances, Geraldo Rivera had him a great big Hummer that he needed at least 3 lanes for . Them people who were going the other way wasn't driving anything that big. Plenty of room for your average Ford Taurus on one lane. What? No, I don't live around here. I got me a summer place in Maine. I just come down for these traffic emergencies. See, I'm thinking if your'e dumb enough to live in Florida during hurricane season...You NEED to get your ass blown away! WHOOPS! Gotta go now. Gotta hold up traffic so that the Gov and his brother can drive in a little bit for a photo op."

INTERVIEW WITH CONVENIENCE STORE OWNER


Georgetta Flopandoupolos, sweeping out the debris left from the sudden rush of shoppers; "Hello. You wanna buy some beer? I got no water but I still got some beer left. I got some stuff like potato chips but it's a little crunchies. I guarantee a good price.......How much you got? I have to give it for the same price you know? They tell me "Don't make money on emergency. If you charge 15 cents before the hurricane season, you can't charge $10 when weather turns nasty. So I tell them, "I have very good stuff in my store and I charge $10 for some stuff all the time. Like bottled water. Mine is better than Perrier, it can cure some disease too. It's worth $15 for a pint. Sometimes I put on a sale for some things. So maybe you buy water here for $1 sometime, but regular price is $15. I lose a lot of money when the big Weather Channel trucks come through here. They bring their own water and beer and Cheet-os. One time though, I see Weather Guy come running in here all pink in the face and breathing hard. I am thinking, 'OHO! He has no water I betcha!' He had water but he needed condoms. I know they screw around with the things that they tell, but I didn't know they put on condoms to tell it! What? Sure I sold him them! My son Socrates had some in his wallet and I tell him, 'Name the price? We get it for sure!' I gotta go now and talk some to Socrates. He is just 12 year old and I think I need to tell him some stuff about men and women. You sure you don't want beer? I got 2 cases left and the rust will come off the cans if you use steel wool?"

INTERVIEW WITH LOCAL MOBILE HOME RESIDENT


Mr Jeff Bob Jonnies stands next to a pile of rubble. "Hey Yawl! Yawl with the Weather folks? Yawl wanna take my picshure standing here next to this ? I'm thinking I maybe gonna be a poster boy for this sort of weather 'cause I got my picshure taken so damn much. Heeheehee. This here's my trailer all right. Yep.

It's a goner! I'm plannin' on goin' to see them guys from FEMA so that I can get some cash money. I gotta make sure I change up my clothes first. I got me some duds that look like they got warshed in a blender. That's what ya gotta wear when ya talkin' to the Gubbmint people. The folks from Channel 32 gave 'em to me to wear when they took my picshure. Said to me. 'We want you to look like you came through sheer hell so people know what this is like.' Gave me common-law wife a couple 'a things to put on too but she wouldn't do it! She gets kinda uppity when it comes to her duds. Yep. Everything we had in this old tin can is shot up all to hell.

Probably gonna spend some nights on the floor of the grade school where they put yez up when yer house gets blown down. Besides, that's where the FEMA sends trucks with water and food and clothes and they even let ya fill out the forms so's ya can get money to tide ya over. Them Red Cross folks is nice too. They got coffee and plenty of Krispy Kremes fer free! I never ate a Krispy Kreme I hadda pay for!

Lots 'o my neighbors is gonna go there too. Only one or two from here don't do that.

(They real old and don't know about the free stuff and FEMA. Ya see, they really DO live here.....all the time!) WHAT? It sure is my trailer! It went down in about 1964 or so! Every time there is a damn storm, me and all the folks from here come and stand around looking all sorry and stuff. And the cameras comes out and bang! Bang! Bang! Picshures all over the place. I remember one of the times when I got some cards with money in them from some church or something. That was the year I got my new Oldsmobile and me and Sunnie Mae got us one of them garden apartments near Orlando. Disney folks bought the lands and we made out pretty good on that. We got us a place in Las Olas but we always come down here to the old Windy Acres Trailer Park whenever there's a blow -comin'. Kinda like a class reunion when we do. Whoa!

I gotta go and change now, I see one of them Satellite trucks that they cable stations have comin' round the bend. S'Long Yawl."

INTERVIEW WITH ROVING DAMAGE REPORTER


"Me? Uh,,,,,Yeah. I got a name. You can just call me Seaslug 62. I don't like to give my name out because there are some people who would like me to disappear.

Some of the weather girls and guys locally and almost ALL of the Weather Channel.

You see, I tell EXACTLY what I see about the damage! They don't like that too much. Like, do you know how much damage to the electric power lines are caused by the TV trucks? They stick up those dishes on the long poles and WHANG! They rip down more lines that the wind does. Same thing when they show you the trees that all laying on the ground.

Those trees got pulled down by the weather guys who are hanging on to them to show you how strong the winds are. There was a bunch of palm trees that got slapped down when about 5 guys climbed up and started swinging from the branches to show how the winds was blowing. I don't even want to talk about how many local people got nailed by 'debris' that these idiots yanked off perfectly good buildings just to have someone throw it in front of them while they were on camera. Some of them just have the bad luck to be where the storm ain't making a lot of noise or wind or rain. That's when they have this big old fan on a truck and they turn it on and throw buckets of water on the guy on camera. I hear that Geraldo did that for Frances. That Jim Cantore does it too! All that debris you see in the street? Most of it is rain slickers or nylon jackets with "Storm Center" written on the back.

There have been reports of people injured by being hit with flying baseball caps with the logos of TV channels on them. I know of one news team that spent the whole damn Hurricane Frances in a topless bar.

Every now and then, they'd go out into the parking lot and have the dancers turn a hose on them while they carried on about how bad the rain was. I have heard rumors of a group of men who go around pulling boats onto docks and seawalls just so they can get pictures on TV so when they go to the insurance company they show that for proof. There is a large population who have addresses in Mobile Home Parks. They don't live there but they keep the trailer that got smacked down a long time ago and go there to talk to Barbara Walters about the tragedy of having everything blown away. Whenever I hear about people seeing transformers flashing as they go out? It is the floodlights on the TV trucks that they are looking at. I have been following this for a long time and I keep finding the same question haunting me. How can you believe that a bunch of people who aren't smart enough to come in out of the rain, can tell you what the weather is doing? I got to go now. I think I see one of the cable TV trucks. 'Bye."


~ Swampetta (SWAMPETTA@aol.com)

October 2004


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