Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Post Hurricane Ponderings

Thankfully, Charley and Frances are history, although their sibling Ivan could possibly pay us a call. But I am taking the positive viewpoint that we can't possibly challenge the statistics a third time. Many people in town are leaving up their boards or tape on the windows as a precaution until we get the all-clear. I figure that's a good thing, like bringing an umbrella or rain ponch to Disney World. It rain is threatening and you don the poncho or open the umbrella, the moisture will instantly disappear and you'll be bathed in brilliant sunshine. If you say, "Looks like it's going to blow over," you have just guaranteed yourself a soaking. The rain will instantly come down in buckets before you can wrestle that poncho out of the little plastic envelope or fumble with the umbrella release.

My husband and I have a permanent stash of rain ponchos in a backpack that comes with us whenever we visit Disney World. We've discovered that if we ever leave it in the car because there is not a cloud in the sky and the chance of showers is negative one, we'll find ourselves in the midst of a thunderstorm as soon as we're too far to make it back without getting soaked. So the backpack has become a permanent fixture on my husband's shoulders, no matter what the forecast. I don't think the other park goes appreciate the fact that we are the ones keeping away the rain.

At any rate, I think that the boarded up windows are serving the same purpose. The minute the last person pries off their board, Ivan will make a beeline for Celebration if there is even one little storm cloud left. And of course by the time it gets here, it will have strengthened into at least a Category 4. But if the boards stay on, we'll be safe and sound, so I am grateful to my neighbors who are suffering sunshine deprivation to keep the town safe for everyone.

The post hurricane timespan on Monday night was pretty strange. Osceola County was supposed to be under a curfew; I never quite figured out whether it was supposed to start at 6:30 p.m. or at dusk. Since we have minimal damage here, looters would have been pretty darned disappointed if they had tried to invade. But the curfew boundaries made no distinction between areas where there might be a real danger and those that were relatively unscathed.

Being new to this whole post-hurricane thing, I had no idea what to expect. If I dared to step outside my door, would I be shot on sight? What if I was out several miles away when the curfew rolled around; would I be allowed to return home? Would I be placed on lockdown inside my car until the morning, or worse yet, arrested and locked in the basement of a jail somewhere?

We had called Market Street Cafe in downtown Celebration and were told that, because of the curfew, they were shutting down at 6:30 p.m. My husband then called Disney World and was told that all of the parks would be open on their regular schedule. Since the restaurants were open, too, he made a reservation at Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge) for 6:30 p.m. We figured we could hightail it over there before we were stopped and ordered to return home, and we hoped that the National Guard or whoever would allow us to return to our homestead after we were done (that is, unless looters had ransacked it in the meantime).

We had a very pleasant meal, and when we returned to town, it looked no different than any other night. We saw people out walking their dogs, going on evening bike rides, or just strolling around. We headed downtown to check out Front Street, where Market Street Cafe is located. They must have been the only restaurant to abide by the curfew. All the rest were open and doing a booming business, as was the Town Tavern. No authority figures were anywhere in sight to order anyone back to their home.

Feeling defiant like the rest of our fellow townsfolk, we headed over to a neighbor's house for an impromptu post-hurricane survival party. My husband had purchased a bottle of his favorite wine at Jiko, and he marveled at the cute little Mickey Mouse/Disney World box that they put it in. It was a really nice cardboard gift-box type thing. It was pretty late, and as we walked over to visit our friends, I said, "We should have brought a brown paper bag, and we could have guzzled this as we walk." He corrected me: "The fancy box is the Celebration equivalent of a brown paper bag." It cracked me up to picture walking around town, tippling the wine from the Mickey box.

We ended up staying out will well past one in the morning, but even when we walked home, no one swooped down to arrest us for being curfew breakers. By Tuesday, I was as non-chalant as everyone else. For all I know, the curfew has been lifted, but I don't pay much attention anymore. It's become like the terrorism alert level; the first time around, you panic when it is raised. By the second, third, and fourth times, the impact just isn't there anymore. Any more than that and you pretty much totally tune it out.

Of course, I can see why a curfew is needed in the areas that really got battered, like Cocoa Beach. I can't imagine what kind of low-life pond scum would actually loot from people who have already lost almost everything, but I know they are out there. I saw it back in the Midwest, when a devastating tornado barreled through, reducing some houses to nothing but empty slabs. The looters came and actually stole the few items that were still scattered around and possible salvagable. People like that should be shot on sight.

Because of the damage at Port Canaveral, my 39th Disney Cruise, which is scheduled to leave tomorrow, has been moved to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. I am not too happy about that, since we will have to travel over 200 miles, which will eat into our cruise time. I love getting to the port early and being one of the first on the ship. The quiet time between embarkation and the safety drill is the best time to use the pool and relax after a delicious, unhurried embarkation lunch. I personally think that Disney should allow cancellation without penalty, but their attitude was "Too darned bad; if you cancel, we keep all your money." They took really good care of the previous "hurricane cruisers," so I don't know why they are treating us like that. Oh well, maybe it will be an interesting new life experience.

Meanwhile, we're just happy that our soffits held up in Frances. We just got our Universal Studio/Islands of Adventure annual passes and have spent the last couple of days bumming around Universal Orlando with some friends. They had flown in for the Disney cruise before ours, which was cancelled, so they grabbed a room at the Celebration Hotel. We've been enjoying the off-season crowds (or lack thereof), which are even smaller due to post-hurricane panic. Every ride (even the brand new ones, like "Mummy," and the most popular, like "Spiderman") were literally walk-on. I don't think we ever waiting more than five minutes for everything. This morning, I rode Hulk, one of my all time favorite roller coasters, five times in a row with no wait. I would have done a dozen more, but we had to get home for a furniture delivery this afternoon.

Life is pretty much back to normal, and I hope it stays that way. Just so long as at least one person keeps those boards on their windows through the rest of hurricane season, I think we should be okay.

If you have any questions or comments, my email is

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