September 13th, 2006 — Hurricane News
Looks like there is good news for the people of Bermuda as it appears they have survived Hurricane Florence with no deaths.
Devonshire Bay, Bermuda weathers Hurricane Florence. Photo Credit: AP
“HAMILTON, BERMUDA Thousands of Bermudians were still without power Tuesday in the wake of Hurricane Florence, which knocked down utility poles and damaged roofs but caused far less damage than feared. The storm, which caused no major injuries, damaged about 10 homes and garages in the wealthy British island territory before it headed north over the open Atlantic Ocean, said Deputy Governor Nick Carter. A few people were hurt by broken glass but none required hospitalization, he said.”
Click this link or the photo for the full article from the Associated Press.
[tags]Hurricane Florence, Bermuda, Hurricane Florence Bermuda[/tags]
September 13th, 2006 — Editorial
It was good to see a county preparing for pet shelter in the recent news.
“COLLIER COUNTY: Collier County officials have taken a big step toward protecting pets during a hurricane.Collier County Commissioners have agreed to spend $25,000 on supplies for a new pet-friendly hurricane shelter.
In fact, the future site of the pet-friendly hurricane shelter will actually be the maintenance building at the brand new North Collier Regional Park.Collier County Emergency Management officials say they picked the site because they can easily separate pets into one building while their owners will only be a few feet away in another building.”
Usually, having a pets means that you can’t go to a shelter during a Hurricane and that means people either have to weather the storm with their animals, leave them behind at their home or evacuate with Fido and Fluffy in tow. Usually in the days after the Hurricane has come through an area, we see stray dogs and cats all over the neighborhoods, or worse, pictures of animals tied up outside and left to fend for themselves. Hopefully, as Hurricane preparedness improves there will be more options like those in Collier County.
September 5th, 2006 — Hurricane News, Super Typhoon Ioke
According to the report out of Hawaii based KHON T.V. Wake Island was spared the untimely death that was forecast last week. In the mean time Tropical Storm Florence is in the Atlantic looking to gain strength over the next 24 hours.
[tags]Tropical Storm Florence, Super Typhoon Ioke, Wake Island, Hurricane, NOAA[/tags]
September 1st, 2006 — Hurricane News, Super Typhoon Ioke
Wake Island, Northern Pacific, Unincorporated U.S. Territory.
The U.S. Air Force had to evacuate 200 of their Wake Island base residents as Super Typhoon Ioke with 300 kph winds approached (186 miles per hour). While Hurricane John is wreaking havoc on the eastern side of the Pacific in Mexico, Ioke is spinning around in the north western Pacific Ocean and all of us, except those on Wake Island and the surrounding atolls, can count ourselves as lucky to not be anywhere near this killer storm. The current track has Ioke pointed towards Japan but hopefully it will sputter out before then.
Super Typhoon Ioke storm track points towards Japan.
According to the AP on August 29, 2006
“Classified as a Category 5 “super typhoon,” Ioke is expected to extensively damage the U.S. territory when it hits Wednesday with 155-mph winds, said Jeff Powell, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
“This is going to roll up a storm surge that will probably submerge the island and destroy everything that’s not made of concrete,” Powell said.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the Hurricane’s Cousin, the Typhoon, here’s the definition of Typhoon from Wikipedia
“The word typhoon has two possible origins:
- From the Chinese ?? (daaih f?ng (Cantonese); d f?ng (Mandarin)) which means “great wind.” (The Chinese term as ?? tif?ng, and ?? taifu in Japanese, has an independent origin traceable variously to ??, ?? or ?? hongthai, going back to Song ? (960-1278) and Yuan ?(1260-1341) dynasties. The first record of the character ? appeared in 1685′s edition of Summary of Taiwan ????).
- From Urdu, Persian or Arabic ??f?n (?????) < Greek tuph?n (?????).Portuguese tufo is also related to typhoon. See Typhon for more information.”
August 30th, 2006 — Cool Sites, Hurricane Preparedness, Hurricane Protection, Hurricane Scams, Hurricane Tips, Tropical Storm, Tropical Storm Ernesto, West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach, FL — After any good sized storm, like our recent brush with Tropical Storm Ernesto, people in Hurricane effected areas become re-energized about improving their Hurricane preparedness. In itself, this is wonderful. People purchase hurricane shutters for the first time, install garage door braces, write hurricane plans, and some even buy high-end products like impact windows. All these things improve your chances of weathering the next storm with less risk to life and property. Unfortunately, the people who make their living by stealing people’s money know this all too well, and they step-up their efforts to separate you from your hard earned dollars in the weeks following a storm.
One of the main reasons we started our community at aBigwind is to call these scammers to your attention. The more we know about who these scam artists are, and what tricks they employ, the more likely we are to avoid them. Recently, we came across an online tool to perform background checks on companies and individuals that can help you with this.
It’s called PeopleFinders. PeopleFinders allows you to run an extensive range of background checks that will flesh out a lot of information about any potential contractor that you’re considering for a job.
Included in their options are a criminal background screening, company background check, and individual background check. Clicking on the Criminal Check link will take you to a page that shows the databases that will be searched, along with the kinds of criminal activity that PeopleFinders will search for. These include things like: Felonies and Misdemeanors, Offenses & Charges, Court, Conviction date and Risk Level.
According to PeopleFinders.com CEO Rob Miller
“Hurricane Katrina showed the world that terrible situations can still be made worse by greedy and uncaring individuals. “Scam artists love to prey on victims of a disaster because they know they are desperate to rebuild their lives and their homes,” Miller states.”
Although PeopleFinders stands to benefit from our paranoia about being defrauded, we think their tool, and our general paranoia about being scammed, are well justified. You don’t have to look very hard in places like Biloxi, New Orleans, or pretty much any town in Florida to see how common this problem is – news reports are filled with sad tales about Hurricane protection scams.
PeopleFinders offers a number of tips to Hurricane Protection consumers to use in avoiding contractor scams which we include here to add to your Hurricane self defense plan.
1. Online People Searches
: You would be surprised at the wealth of information that an online people search web site like PeopleFinders.com can provide regarding a potential contractor or company that wants to repair your home. For individual contractors, a background check
can tell you if a contractor is licensed, has a criminal record and even how long he or she has been working in your area. For companies, a business search
can tell you if a business is legitimate by providing such information as which professional licenses a business holds, its location, who owns it and even what their office looks like.
2. References: Don’t take a contractor’s word for his or her quality of work. Just like hiring a potential employee, it is always a good practice to check references. If possible, make sure to visit these properties to see their work first hand. Also, you can always contact your local Better Business Bureau to obtain more information on a particular contractor or business.
3. Pro-actively Choose your Contractor
: Avoid door to door contractors. To make sure that you are only hiring legitimate contractors, only select those from lists provided from state housing and contracting agencies
4. Never Pay Cash: Paying for home improvements with cash should be avoided because cash is the toughest form of money to recover should there be a problem with your contractor. In addition, never pay for a job completely up front. Any payments should be made only after you have had a chance to review a contractor’s qualifications.
5. Comparison Shop: Make sure to get multiple bids on your repairs before having any work done. Price is not the only aspect of a bid to be considered when reviewing bids as business history, insurance coverage and proper licenses to work in your area or home must also be taken into consideration.”
August 29th, 2006 — Editorial, Hurricane Humor, Hurricane News, Hurricane Planning, Hurricane Preparedness, South Florida, Tropical Storm, Tropical Storm Ernesto, West Palm Beach
Tropical Storm Ernesto will go down as the storm that wasn’t – at least from the perspective of the U.S. Mainland that was bracing for our first real threat of the 2006 Hurricane Season. Don’t get me wrong – we’re all very happy that Ernesto broke down like a Wall Street Junk Bond Dealer. And, we’re already asking ourselves and our community what we can learn from the storm – or from our response to the storm.
First up – the mainstream media is about to jump to the immediate conclusion that since Ernesto fizzled, future storms are more likely to be ignored by area residents. This logic is easier to understand when you spend hours struggling with storm shutters, waiting in gas lines and enduring grocery cart cattle calls that are right out of a wild west movie only to learn that it was all for naught. We look across the street at our neighbor that didn’t do a thing and we hate them for being so damn lucky. We become numb to it all. Apathetic would be the watch word here.
How about all the things that were smoother this year than last?
I noticed quite a few improvements here in the West Palm Beach, Florida area. Over the last couple of years all your basic Hurricane supplies quickly ran out. Trying to find some C or D batteries, water, propane, flashlights or anything else used to ‘camp’ inside a stifling hot oven (better known here as a house without air conditioning from the storm aftermath) was next to impossible. This year, I found both grocery stores and our local home improvement stores both well stocked and relatively uncrowded.
Have distribution methods and preparedness improved in these retail sectors or were we all just better stocked-up after two years of constant reminders, delivered to us by high and low pressure fronts that steered nasty Tropical Storms and Hurricanes to our neck of the woods?
Here’s what hasn’t changed.
People, including yours truly, still put off taking action to protect themselves and their homes until the last minute. Hey, we’re busy, just like you, and we don’t have time to waste. If we’re going to prepare, we all have some internal threshold that needs to be met before our basic human desire to live kicks in and fires up the save-your-ass afterburners.
People still rush around like morons, including yours truly, after finally accepting that a storm may in fact arrive on our doorstep.
People are a little more on edge, blaring horns a little longer than needed, waving arms around excitedly, gesturing with hands and fingers in ways that we’d be otherwise quite embarrassed about.
Well, maybe not me.
Then there’s the gasoline…
If there’s one thing people don’t like it’s not having any options – and apparently if you’re a Floridian, running like hell is one of our favorite options. We’re fond of hanging chads and concealed carry gun laws for Granny as well.
That’s why we fill up our cars before, during, and after, we do anything else. And then if our cars are full, we fill up our spare gas cans. And if the storm still isn’t here yet, we go fill up our boat’s gas tank. Then, if the storm still isn’t here, we fill up our lawn mower because, heck, someone, or something might be able to ride it the hell out of here. We can live without a lot of things here in Hurricane Country, but gas ain’t one ‘em.
We ran out of gas quickly and the stations were jammed. I understand the lines, especially during peak times, but stations running out of gas seems entirely avoidable. What’s the problem, we’re not paying enough these days for our gas? Perhaps the petroleum companies can’t afford to send extra trucks so we can buy more of their product? I really thought that with advances like new Florida laws requiring gas stations close to major highways to have backup generators were a sign that we were building more fail safe systems? The power never went out, and we still couldn’t get it right.
It wasn’t because we had a lack of gas. Governor Jeb Bush reminded us that we didn’t need to hoard gas, that we had a plenticious supply, and that we had just done such a good job of being prepared (hoarding) that we had run low in some places.
Maybe next time we can get the re-supply of gas right? Here’s a hint to the petroleum industry – if you get this right, you can rob us blind even more!
Three days out from a forecast Tropical Storm or Hurricane hitting a region start sending a lot of extra gas trucks! I know you’ve already thought of this but apparently Buford didn’t get the memo. Better yet, I’ve got an idea to make you even more money.
Portable gas stations.
After all, what’s a gas station but a big tank of gasoline with spigots attached to it. A tanker truck is just an above ground gas station on wheels with some gas pumps missing. But what about modern conveniences you ask? Sure, a cashier, twelve temporary pumps, all hooked up to wireless ATM’s would be nice. But we’ll pay cash in the first few days after the storm since we understand that our communications infrastructure will be amiss. WE KNOW an engineer could figure this out. Actually don’t we already do this in the military? Supply chain right? Oh, so someone already thought of this a long time ago. Well, this is America. It seems like there must be a market for this and if it’s not South Florida, I don’t know where else I can suggest that’s better.
In closing, I just want to remind our readers and myself that, like our Tax deadline, December 31st, or Memorial Day, Hurricanes can be prepared for. Planned for. Strategized over. Staffed for. Contingency planned. Worst-case scenario’d. We can and should expect our providers to meet the demands of our market. And we can and should expect to use common sense and be accountable for firing up our save-your-ass afterburners just a little earlier, and a little more completely, the next time.
August 29th, 2006 — Hurricane News, Hurricane Preparedness, Tropical Storm, Tropical Storm Ernesto
The lights are on but the gas is gone.
West Palm Beach, Florida.
As Tropical Storm Ernesto’s outer rain bands reached the shores of the Florida Keys this morning…residents all over greater West Palm Beach were asking themselves if they needed to bother preparing for a ‘wimpy’ Tropical Storm.
This gas station at Southern Blvd. and Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach had an unmarked police highway patrol car directing traffic.
Driving around West Palm Beach this morning showed that the long gas lines yesterday did their share to deplete local gasoline supplies. If you could find gas in West Palm Beach this morning you could expect to find lines as well.
Out of a dozen gas stations that I drove by, only two had gas, and both stations had medium sized lines. The local grocery store had ample supplies of everything, except soda – especially diet soda, while water, ice, batteries and perishables were fully stocked. Apparently, when the power goes out from a visiting storm, we prefer to drink warm diet soda over water here in West Palm Beach.
Ernesto Approaches — Cuillo Centre For The Performing Arts on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida.
The Cuillo Centre For The Arts, which anchors Clematis Street, was among the local establishments protecting their windows with plywood supplies from last Hurricane Season, while children (mine actually) played in the kids water Fountain.The story from this South Florida community is that we don’t really know what Ernesto will bring as it moves across 86-degree water in the Florida Straits. There’s not a lot of room, or time, for Ernesto to grow into a stronger storm, but that’s not to say that we’re not watching Ernesto like a hawk.
As it stands, West Palm Beach residents appear unprepared for anything more than a Tropical Storm or very weak Hurricane. Even strong Tropical storm winds of 39-73 miles per hour can, and do cause a lot of damage when homes and businesses are unprotected. If a larger storm does materialize, it will likely leave us bruised, battered, and battling our fellow residents for water, ice, gasoline, propane, and everything else that we Hurricane Country natives treasure.
The Home Depot on Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. in West Palm Beach had plenty of parking this morning.
A trip over to the Palm Beach Lakes Blvd Home Depot showed that locals were either well prepared already, or weren’t bothering with plywood or batteries – perhaps in the belief (or hope) that the latest forecasts for a Tropical Storm or weak Category 1 Hurricane will be accurate.
In downtown, on West Palm Beach’s version of Main Street, known here as Clematis Street, the Starbucks was a little busier than usual with displaced commuters who had wisely chosen to opt out of their regular commutes. I overheard one patron on her cell phone explaining that schools were closed and she was working from home today (home being synonymous with Starbucks apparently). Further down Clematis Street some shops were installing plywood and steel shutters but the majority were unprotected.
August 28th, 2006 — Hurricane Evacuation, Hurricane Planning, Hurricane Preparedness
West Palm Beach, Florida — As Tropical Storm Ernesto churns its way through Cuba and heads into the Florida Straits the most recent forecast path puts South Florida directly in his way.
If you live in South Florida it seems like NOW is a good time to take evasive action with a safe retreat to a less windy and waterlogged part of the world.
Whether you have a Hurricane plan or not – it’s almost time to make your final go/no-go decision. For many of us – getting out of dodge by leaving town is an excellent option. If you are looking for a good option for travel arrangements you may want to become familiar with the new travel site called Kayak.
See, and you thought I was going to suggest a boat as part of your Hurricane evacuation plan.
Kayak.com is different from popular travel sites like Orbitz or Expedia in that it isn’t a site where you actually book travel.
Kayak lets you see travel deals from hundreds of travel web sites
Wait, we’re not sending you on a wild goose chase. Instead, Kayak lets you compare travel alternatives from hundreds of travel sites and find the best price and amenities for your trip. Given that flights and alternative modes of transport out of Florida are already booking up, you are going to want to have the greatest possible choice when booking your travel. That’s why you may want to try Kayak.
Here at abigwind we conducted a sample search on Kayak.com for a flight tomorrow morning (Tuesday August 29, 2006) from Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta – returning Saturday. Our best price was a fare of $329 on Spirit Air. If I had visited 3 or 4 other travel booking sites I could have arrived at the same price, just not as fast, and in Hurricane evacuations, time is critical. Another point to consider when trying to evacuate from the path of a Hurricane is when you book your travel. As far as availability goes, booking now, rather than later, will certainly increase your chances of getting out of town. The alternative is a very long drive and long lines at the gas station. Unless of course, you’re looking to make 20 or so new friends, in which case the gas station socials are waiting for you to join in!
If you do end up using Kayak for your Hurricane evacuation travel plans please let us know how it goes by commenting here or visiting our Hurricane Protection news and information community at http://www.abigwind.com .
Good luck Hurricane Country!
August 2nd, 2006 — Hurricane News
We write a lot of stories on A Big Wind about companies doing things the wrong way when it comes to dealing with people around Hurricanes. That’s why it was a pleasure to see a Hurricane Country business doing things the right way.
Tropical Storm Chris is forecast to make Hurricane status in the coming days and the 5-day forecast path has Chris taking direct aim at The Bahamas and South Florida. Ft. Lauderdale based Spirit Airlines announced their “Hurricane Buster Protection,” today that will allow some passengers to make changes to their existing reservations without incurring the normal change fee.
“As part of Spirit’s Hurricane Busters protection, due to Tropical Storm Chris, customers booked to fly to/from St.Thomas, San Juan or Nassau traveling today 8/02/06 or tomorrow 8/03/06 may make a one-time change, within the same cabin, without fees or additional fare collection if travel is rebooked and completed by 8/29/06. For any other dates, the customer may change without a change fee but will need to pay any difference in fare. Customers may rebook on spiritair.com or place their reservation on hold by calling the Spirit Reservations Center at 800-772-7117 or en Español al 800-756-7117.”
Sure, Spirit Airlines is doing this to get PR and sell more tickets and with good business practices that support consumer needs in right way, we’re happy to oblige.
August 1st, 2006 — Hurricane Planning, Hurricane Preparedness, Hurricane Protection
These cautionary words today about Tropical Storm Chris, from Michael Black, a meteorologist with the federal government’s Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key.
According to reports filed all over South Florida we’ve begun the official wait, worry and watch mode to see if Chris hits the Islands and continues on his way to South Florida where current storm tracks have him pointing. Since I just moved back to the water from 14 miles inland, just one block away from the Intracoastal waterway in West Palm Beach, I’m having no problem following along.
We actually moved away from this neighborhood just days before Frances tore the neighborhood apart in 2004. The huge Ficus tree across the street from my house crashed down in our park and was impressive enough to be featured days later on ABC’s national network news. Two years later, as I moved back in and went for my old walk along the waterway with my excitable Jack Russell Terriers I noticed in detail just how many homes and buildings were condemned or seriously damaged. Across the Intracoastal on Palm Beach, the summer season finds houses shut up tight with all kinds of hurricane protection. Is it my memory, or are a FAR higher percentage of those mansions shuttered up than before Frances?
While we’re keeping an eye out for Chris let’s all use this time to re-check our supplies, our hurricane plan, and plan for our safety with hurricane protection for your home or business. Got an insurance policy that needs to be updated? Remember, you can’t change your policy once we’re under a Hurricane Watch so act today for a little more piece of mind tonight. Likewise, if you DON’T already have shutters or some kind or impact windows, then now is a great time to get to your favorite home improvement store for the plywood and supplies you’ll need to shutter up your home. And don’t forget to protect your garage door.