Good evening, Key West friends and strangers.
It’s hard to sit here in the Shenandoah Valley as my husband, the Cat 5s, our friends and strangers-soon-to-be-friends await the approach of Hurricane Irma, likely sometime tomorrow.
Ed’s a darn fine reporter and news photographer. He rode his bike all over the island today, taking pictures and videos to ensure we have a “sense of place” for the after-the-storm photos. Bike riding was easy today. No traffic, no tourists. Could ride in the middle of the street — going the wrong way on a one-way. I’ll be postings photos and videos as soon as I get them edited.
(Which reminds me: If I were ever impatient with photographers and photo editors and graphics designers in the old days? If I ever said things like, “it doesn’t take that long”? Feel free to shoot me. Yes. It is that hard. Yes. It takes that long. And, it sucks, but that’s a whine for another day.)
Hats off to Bill Becker, Ezra Marcus and others at US 1 Radio for committing to broadcasting live as long as they’ve got power. Heard this afternoon that The Citizen, the local newspaper, had shut down for the duration, which means not much local news coverage other than what Ed and the folks at the radio are doing. I’ll do my best from the Shenandoah Valley to aggregate what I can scrounge and share what Ed is sending — until he loses cell phone service, which is bound to happen within 48 hours.
We’re all anxious, whether we’re worried about the friends and homes we left behind, or are standing in the middle of an empty Mallory Square. Irma will spare no Floridian.
Ed talked to folks like Ruth and Wayne Krochling, who traded Ft. Myers for their home on William Street at the top of Solares Hill, the highest point in Key West, at 18 feet above sea level. They’re staying put as are many of their neighbors. They’re former police and EMT folks.
We overload Facebook, the National Hurricane Center, and, of course, Mike’s Weather Page and Spaghetti Models in search of the latest update, the newest path and projections, all to calculate the odds of storm surge and wind damage. The on-island folks have become impatient with well-meaning friends ranting over their decisions to stay put. I’ve shared some of those reactions on Hurricane Irma Key West. Wander through and you’ll see heartfelt explanations and pleas to please just offer support, not rants.
This one from Mark Ebenhoch says it best:
Ok.. here is my statement as raw as it gets:
I cried when I watched an interview of a woman asked why she didnt evacuate where Harvey met landfall. I heard the same damn thing with those folks in NOLA during Katrina.
Yes, I COULD HAVE left on Wednesday.
Here is my reasons for staying.
1st, this is my home.
2nd, this is my community
And 3rdly, and most important, Im here to make sure those who COULD NOT AFFORD or had no means to evacuate/no place to go, are safe and have someone else available in case of need, whatever that means.
Ive learned what a close knit community is like. As Ive told many, there is nothing like the people/community here anywhere in the world Ive seen with the exception of the Bedouins in the middle east.
These people are my family..
We WILL get thru this..
I know Ed feels much the same. There are people on that island who, when the worst happens, will need the skills he brings. Here’s what Judy Emerson, my friend-from-another-life wrote today on Facebook about Ed:
Thoughts, prayers and all good karma are coming your way, Ed and Linda! I know there is no one who is kinder and better able to lend a helping hand than Ed. I remember his skills from the Paint-a-Thon days in Rockford, as well as the playground-building days. The man knows his way around hammers and boards. Bless you both.
The decisions to stay are personal. Let’s leave it at that for now.
Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor of KeyWestWatch Media, is in Virginia with her mother on a previously scheduled family visit. Her scheduled return to the island on Sept. 6 was cancelled. She wishes she were on-island with Ed and the five cattens.