The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 14, 1999 · Page 12
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September 14, 1999

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 12

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Tuesday, September 14, 1999
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14A THE PALM BEACH POST TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1999 .- fi nvn I Boat owners tie down i 6r get out of the way 3 Andrew veterans say they learned lessons Survivors well-prepared for latest storm" ..'4 I i I 1 By Dan Moffett Palm Beach Post Staff Writer When Hurricane Andrew tore through Homestead seven years ago, Maureen and Bob Mendes survived by huddling behind a mattress in a closet with their two children and five neighbors. The Mendeses lost their home and moved to Palm City. Today they find themselves within the reach of another monster storm, Hurricane Floyd, and they are committed to weathering it better than the last. "We learned a lesson from Andrew," she said. "We keep all our important papers in plastic bins, so we can just throw them in the car and leave. We're boarding up our house. Then we're taking with us all the really important things that can't be replaced." Bob, Maureen and daughter Krista, 15, will seek shelter in the concrete block home of in-laws in Palm City but farther away from the coast. Daughter Kelly, 20, is in St. Augustine now and has been calling her parents frequently the past couple of days. "She's upset and she's nervous," Maureen Mendes said. "Andrew affected the kids a lot Krista has been wondering how it is possible that we could go through something like this twice in a lifetime." Bob Mendes was a DadeJ County teacher for 14 years before Andrew sent him to Martin County and a job at Palm City EC1 ementary. m "We don't want to see what we went through with Andrew harp 1 pen to anybody," Maureen saia. "This storm is much bigger than Andrew, too. We just have to hope' ' it doesn't hit us directly." " ( In Fort Pierce, Karen Howard a grandmother of four, recalls how her brother's home was lejj eled in Homestead, and how-w Hurricane David ruined her tralfcS er when she lived in Sumter, S.GZZ in 1979. She is facing Floyd with S3 garage full of supplies and equyS ment ' "I've got a 125-gallon water tank and a welder's generator'0 that's big enough to run the mi crowave and the lights," she said' "I have a 200-gallon fuel tank'-' buried in the ground. I learned? very quickly that you need to buty 0 things so they don't go flying away." ""ri Howard's house is 10 mils" ' from the ocean and it is boarded' tight. "I'm scared," she said. Ifr' you're smart, you're prepared.' If v you're not, you're left hanging."' The one thing the Marine Patrol warns against: Don't try to save your boat during the storm. By Willie Howard Palm Beach Post Staff Writer i Boat owners used a variety of strategies Monday to prepare for an expected onslaught of powerful wind, waves and high water from Hurricane Floyd. t Some moved their boats to inland anchorages ranging from marinas to cuts in the mangroves, while others spent their time adding mooring lines, removing tops and otherwise preparing their vessels. I "We're staying right where we're sitting," said Ed Preston, owner of little Bert, a 28-foot Bertram Ashing boat stored at Lake Park Marina. Preston and friend Gilly Grimes Hided the boat's Bimini top and outriggers onto a trailer and were planning to add mooring lines today. i -Bob Mulcahy, owner of the 28-foot sloop Trojan Horse, said he would use extra lines to secure his sailboat to pilings on both sides of Lake Park Marina. Mulcahy believes Floyd will skirt Palm Beach County as it heads north. He expects a west wind because hurricanes spin counterclockwise, so he's tying lines and placing fenders accordingly. Florida Marine Patrol Lt. Royce itimilton warned boaters against g ing out in the storm to save their b )ats. That should be the watchword for everybody: lives ahead of properly," Hamilton said. "Boats can be 1 replaced." Most large boat owners who were planning to leave coastal marinas in Palm Beach County had already done so by late Monday. Some headed inland through the St. Lucie Lock, while others headed south to the Keys. The Indiantown Marina was full Sunday night, but the phone rang all day Monday as boaters sought inland slips. "Some of the boats will go all the way to the west coast," said Petty Officer Jeff Libbert of the Coast Guard Station in Riviera Beach. The Coast Guard does not make evacuation recommendations to boaters when a hurricane is approaching, but it does warn them that drawbridges will be locked shut before wind speeds hit 39 mph. The Coast Guard moved many of its large boats to Marathon and Key West Monday and will bring them back for use in search and rescue after the storm passes. RybovichSpencer marina in West Palm Beach hauled out 25 boats ranging from 40 to 140 feet Monday but could not accommodate all requests for haul-outs. Vice President Jim Bronstein said he gave top priority to boats being serviced at the company's boat yard and could not move under their own power. Marge Murray, manager of Sail-fish Marina on Singer Island, had all four of her company's water taxis hauled out Only five of the 60 boats normally stored at the marina's docks near the Palm Beach Inlet were there Monday afternoon. "Ihis is just not a safe place to be," Murray said. 7 0 1 DAVID LANEStaff Photographer These were among the boats lined up Monday to enter the St. Lucie Lock on their way to Lake Okeechobee. Comcast scrambles to fix: emergency alert system a ! Neighborhood's canal hard to see We're terribly sorry. This couldn't have happened at a worse time.' DIANE CHRISTIE JJ Comcast spokesperson ' - --.'TrT-' By Tim O'Meilia Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH An equipment failure during an emergency warning blocked 140,000 Comcast Cablevision customers from watching 5 p.m. Monday news reports on the advance of Hurricane Floyd. Instead, viewers could see only a blue screen for more than 30 minutes while technicians hurried to repair the glitch. It was the second failure in two weeks of the newly mandated emergency alert system on the cable system. "We're terribly sorry. This couldn't have happened at a worse time," said Comcast spokesperson Diane Christie. "After the first one, we purchased new equipment and tested it and it worked." The alert blipped off the screen and the audio failed midway through the alert. The alert system, required by the Federal Communications Commission to be in place Jan. 1, allows emergency officials to Keeping art safe a worry for museums By Gary Schwan Palm Beach Post Staff Writer From new sculpture buildings at the Armory Art Center to Henry Flagler's venerable mansion, area museum officials girded Monday for Floyd. Nobody worried about Barbie, however. The popular exhibition of Barbie dolls will stay at Old School Square in Delray Beach even though other artworks were stored. No offense, Barbie. "She's plastic, and she can handle water," public relations director Melissa Carter joked. "At worst, she might get her hair wet" Officials at The Robert and Mary Montgomery Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach had more to worry about: an unfinished roof on a $1 million sculpture building. "Structurally, the roof is all there," director David Edgar said. "But the windows haven't been enclosed yet." Morikami Museum officials in Delray Beach worried about their Japanese Gardens, which are undergoing a $2.8 million break into cable transmissions to broadcast alerts. Christie said the system had been tested numerous times, as required by the FCC, without a glitch. ' The first failure occurred-about 5 p.m. Sept 6 and normal programming was not restored; for about an hour. The systenria designed to automatically return; to regular programming when! the alert is finished, but that did not happen either time. i Christie said a technician! would be stationed at the cable' system's equipment building "We're going to have someone live there until the storm is over." MAHVIN JOStPHStaff Photographer The canal behind Carambola Circle was dug in the 1950s or '60s and then abandoned by the developer. The overgrown canal north of Lake Clarke Chores has residents fearing an overflow. By Robert P. King Palm Beach Post Stuff Writer "From a distance, Minerva Eagle's hack yard appears to lead to a field of lush foliage: dark-olive fafis of glossy green, lighter leaves creased like corduroy, occasional bursts of flowering vio- H J But this is no field. 3 It's her drainage canal one where almost no water is visible because of an invasion of water hyacinths, water lettuce and oth-ef weeds. j Eagle and other residents in her 31-home neighborhood on Carambola Circle, just north of Lkke Clarke Shores, say they've beX'n pleading for months for Palm Beach County or South Florida water managers to unclog the canal. Now, with Hurricane Floyd approaching, they worry that the choked waterway could overflow if heavy rains strike. ji "It's just ridiculous," said Ea-gli', who has lived for 21 years in tlijc largely working-class neighborhood of one-story homes. "VVe've never, ever had this before." Even without the hurricane, the canal "is a danger," said neighbor Jean Stamper. "If a child fell in, he couldn't get out." The problem is one seen in a number of older neighborhoods, County Commissioner Warren Newell said: The developer who dug the canal in the 1950s or 1960s, when rules were lax, didn't deed it to the county or make arrangements for perpetual maintenance. Since the county doesn't own the canal, it's not responsible for maintaining it although Eagle and fellow resident Jean Stamper say county crews sprayed it with weedkillers until at least last year. The South Florida Water Management District also doesn't maintain community drainage canals, although this one feeds into the district's West Palm Beach Canal. Often, local canals are the responsibility of a homeowner's association or special taxing district, district Vegetation Management Director Dan Thayer said. The residents on Carambola Circle have neither. Newell said he's trying to figure out a solution. He said the final answer may include steps that residents can take to prevent weed invasions, such as reductions in the use of lawn fertilizers that drain into the water. DBS HaBiBSB- VETERAN IRS AGENTS & TAX PROFESS 0NALS Our Clients NEVER MEET with the IRS! Most Pay Pennies On The Dollar! GUARANTEED RESULTS! FREE SPECIAL REPORT www.jkharris.com FREE CONSULTATION "HOW TO END IRS PROBLEMS" 888-807-7464 800-925-9609 UK HARRIS & COMPANY WEST PALM BEACH BOCA RATON STUART FT. LAUDERDALE Over 100 Offices In The US Director says FEMA is ready for the worst 15 We've tried to prepare for the worst possible case and this is one of those cases. ' .11. Wli i... , -ft , TV : ; ' fc JAMES LEE WITT FEMA director 19 fe,. -a- -jic, js- ito J h By Larry Lipman PQm Beach Post Staff Writer I WASHINGTON This is the storm FEMA Director James Lee Witt has been dreading since taking office six years ago: a catastrophic hurricane that hugs the cpastline from Florida to the Crolinas causing massive damage along a swath hundreds of miles long. P "We've tried to prepare for the worst possible case and this is one of those cases," said Witt, hi?ad of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, after concluding a video conference with emergency teams spread out atross the country. The prospect of a coast-hugging hurricane in the category 4 to category 5 range "was a scenario that ever since Ive- been here I've hoped I'd never see," Witt said, noting that t)ie destruction could cover "not just one area, it's the whole Coastline and the pounding it's going to take." That same concern worries Florida officials. Jim Loomis, reporting to Witt from the Florida Division of Emergency Management at the 5:30 p.m video conference said "if this parallels us, it dould act like a Weed-Eater for 25 miles along the coast . . . most of tiose unties don't have population inland, they sit tight on the within hours wherever Floyd hits land, said Bruce Baughman, FEMA director of response. There are more than 30,000 rolls of plastic sheeting enough to cover 25,000 roofless houses and some 100 tons of ice, he said. The supplies are being kept in Atlanta, rather than closer to where the hurricane might hit, in order to protect them. "Depending on the track (taken by the storm) you don't want to get it too far forward because the supplies themselves may become a victim," Baughman said. In addition to the supplies on hand, FEMA has contracted with suppliers to provide additional support such as debris removal, roofing repairs and bulk water if needed, he said. Meanwhile, the federal government is urging individuals to prepare by making their property as hurricane-proof as possible such as removing lawn furniture and listening to local government warnings. Residents also are urged to check the FEMA Web site for other tips at www.fema.gov. This is a serious storm," Suiter said. "It may be the worst storm that we have had in many, many years." coast, so it's going to be pretty devastating as far as who is going to get hit." FEMA officials say that regardless of where Hurricane Floyd strikes, the federal response will be far different from the tardy answer to Hurricane Andrew seven years ago. "There are a lot of things going on that were not going on six years ago," said Tacy Suiter, FE-MA's executive associate director. Unlike the situation after Andrew, when the tardy and disjointed federal response sparked cries of anger from state and local authorities, FEMA officials promised they were ready to roll and could have supplies into an affected area within hours after the storm's passage. "The federal government is being not just reactive to events and the requests of the governors, but we're being pro-active," Suiter said. t "We're not waiting until the hurricane comes ashore to buy the ice and buy the water and get the generators ready and get the other things ready to move out to the area. We're doing it now in anticipation of what the requirements might be," Suiter said. "We've been through this enough to know what to anticipate and what to plan for." FEMA emergency response centers have been activated in Atlanta- and Washington, D.C., and its has representatives at state emergency centers from Florida to North Carolina. A hurricane liaison team of federal emergency officials is also stationed at the National Hurricane Center in Miami to monitor the latest forecasts of the storm's path and intensity. Meanwhile, FEMA has positioned ice, water, plastic sheeting, cots, tents and emergency food and medial supplies in Atlanta where they can be delivered

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