Friday, September 24, 2004


Unbelievable! For three times in less than two months, we are stuck far from home due to a hurricane. If this hurricane hits Florida, it will be the first time something like this has happened since the 1800s. I can still picture my past self, laughing at the thought of hurricanes coming this far inland. I figured that a major hurricane would strike Celebration about the same time as Walt's cryogenically frozen body was thawed and reanimated.

At least I can be grateful that we've been spared any major damage. I can't believe the destruction and death toll from the storms so far, in such a wide geographical area. The hurricane season of 2004 is definitely one for the history books.

I've also been following the impact on people taking (or trying to take) Disney cruises this week. Once again, the ships are being shifted to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. They had never done a port change in all the years since they set sail in 1998, and now they've had to do it twice. In addition, they have just lengthened their third cruise of the season. They cancelled one for the last hurricane, but this time around they've just done a little tinkering and shortening.

I can understand the frustration and uncertainty because we faced the same situation when we sailed on September 9th. The embarkation point of our Disney Wonder cruise was moved from Port Canaveral to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. We didn't like the prospect of a four-hour bus ride, so we rented a car and drove. It was a pain, but it paled in comparison to the destruction that Frances unleashed on the Cocoa Beach area. (You can read the trip report on that cruise by clicking here for my Disney Cruise Line blog.)

I'm sure all the changes are going to have a bad financial impact. The loss in tourist dollars has been a major problem for Florida in general. Much of our economy is centered around tourism-related jobs and service positions. No visitors means no work, which means no income for many people. Sadly, many of them are the same people whose homes were damaged, or even destroyed, by Charley and Frances. They don't need Jeanne to pay a visit.

We actually could have made it to Florida this time, but it's unlikely that we would have been able to make it back to work on Monday. Internet rumor currently says that Orlando International Airport will close at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Goodness only knows when it will reopen. I don't think it will get the full force of Jeanne, but it's already pretty badly damaged from the aftermath of Charley. And of course it's impossible to predict the pace at which Jeanne will move and the exact course that she will follow. Sustained winds could stick around for hours, wreaking havoc on air traffic.

Once big difference I've noticed for Jeanne is that she is receiving much less media coverage than her siblings, at least nationally. For the previous storms, we were able to follow them minute by minute on television, even when stranded in the Midwest. All I had to do was log on to Google news and they were plastered in the top links. Now, half the time I have to run a search for Jeanne in order to find more than a minor blurb. There is no mention on the news whatsoever, other then perhaps a fleeting sentence.

I guess it's like the terrorism alert level. At first, when it went up to orange, people were in a panicked frenzy, buying up duct tape and bottled water to create "safe rooms" in their houses. Now, it's been up and down so many times that it's barely worth a mention. It's like the "Saturday Night Live" skit, with the alert levels in colors like taupe, light beige, bone, and off white. No matter what it is, there is really no difference, at least in the mind of most of the American public.

I'm beginning to feel that my husband and I must have inadventently pissed off a Gypsy who has saddled us with a curse. How else to explain the fact that practically every Saturday we face the prospect of yet another hurricane threatening Celebration and the Orlando/Kissimmee area? We're inland, for goodness sake! And since when are there so many vicious storms following the same track, all in one season?

Perhaps Jeanne will still turn away from land, or at least spare Florida the worst of its destructive force. As I type this, I think that it's threatening the Bahamas, and they need another whammy even less than we do. The only light at the end of the tunnel is that hurricane season ends on November 30th. It's still two months away, but at least an end date is in sight. I just hope that someone remembers to tell Mother Nature.

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