Tuesday, May 24, 2005

You Know You're In Florida When...

When I was a kid, I loved the silly humor in "Mad Magazine." One of my favorites was the "You Know You're A ___________ When _________" cartoon series. For example, "You know you're a hockey fan if: Your idea of serving breakfast is giving each of your kids a fork and dropping an Eggo in the middle of the table."

I was recently reminded of those childhood laughs by Governor Jeb's proclaimation. You know that you're in Florida when...the governor declares a "Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday."

You may be wondering, "So what the heck is that?" Basically, Floridians can stock up on hurricane survival supplies like bottled water, tarps, lanterns, first-aid kits, and battery powered radios without paying sales tax between June 1 (the official start of hurricane season) and June 12. Oddly enough, plywood is not on the list, even though it's one of the most sought-after items when a killer storm rumbles through the state.

Even though plywood is not included, I plan to buy a a supply. One of my favorite things about Duloc Manor (its overabundance of windows) becomes a liability under the assault of strong winds. I'm not even sure where we will seek shelter if this year's hurricane season is a repeat of 2004. Our downstairs has windows in virtually every room, with the except of the Harry Potter bathroom, so-called because it is under the stairs. I suppose we could shut ourselves in there, but it would get rather claustrophobic with two humans, three cats, two fish, and a bird.

Upstairs, the windows are everywhere, too, including in the master closet. I've never figured that one out; maybe when the clothes get bored, they enjoy gazing outside at the neighbor's house. We could shut the bedrooms and bunker in the hallway, but upstairs isn't the best choice when you're worried that your roof might get blown off.

We do have one advantage; being in a triplex, one whole wall is interior and the other is somewhat sheltered by the next door neighbor's house. But the front and rear are virtually wide open. I can just picture the windows shattering and our whole first floor becoming a giant wind tunnel. If worse comes to worse, the garage only has one window, but I'm not sure just how structurally sound it would be in comparison to the house. Besides, it only holds one car, and I'd want to protect Canyonero from flying debris, so there wouldn't be much additional room.

Hopefully that will be a non-issue this year. Our house survived the Hurricane Trio of 2004, and that was an odds-defying season that shouldn't happen again for the at least a few decades. The weather forecasters are calling for an active hurricane season, but since we're in Central Florida (hurricanes don't come this far inland, ha ha), hopefully they'll stay far, far away.

It's hard to believe that hurricane season is only a week away, especially since the Orlando/Kissimmee area is not fully recovered from the previous assault. The sea of blue tarps has dissipated into a scattered patchwork, but they're not entirely gone. There are a lot of brand-spanking-new signs on 192, not to mention quite a few that are still missing. Even some of the street signs have yet to be replaced. Here in town, the tumbled old growth trees have been cleared away, but the palm trees on Celebration Boulevard are propped up in framework and many of the small trees (the one in our backyard included) are growing at a permanent tilt.

My next door neighbor, and several of my friends, boarded up their homes last year, but Duloc Manor was exposed to the elements. We were very lucky; our only damage was some blown-out soffit during Hurricane Charley. Oddly enough, our neighbor in the mirror unit at the other end of the triplex got through the first one unscathed, but she suffered almost identical soffit damage during the next one.

During that 12 day period, I'll be lining up with my fellow Floridians to stock up on hurricane necessities. It's like purchasing insurance...you hope that you'll never need to use them, but if something happens, you're darned glad to have 'em.

Along with power outage supplies, drinking water, and canned food, I think we'll get a couple of extra bottles of wine, too. It's not on Governor Jeb's list, and I think it's a more glaring ommission than the plywood. After all, if you've got to hole up during the storm, you may as well enjoy yourself.

Learn more about Celebration on my website: www.celebrationinfo.com

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