The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 15, 1999 · Page 6
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 6

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Wednesday, September 15, 1999
Page 6
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THE PALM BEACH POST WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1999 A 6A FLOYD CENTURY VILLAGE Older residents epitomize calm before the storm , j ft r(r fir f Z 4: , ' 1 i ( ' ' 1 ' "'X f 4f CALLIE LIPKINStaff Photographer ' There goes the hair JUPITER - Josh Siegel (left) of West Palm Beach and Elizabeth Harney the beach Tuesday morning. The wind picked up and caused lots of , of Palm Beach Gardens were among hundreds of storm watchers on fly-away hair. Some people also had trouble keeping their balance. By Mary Lou Picket Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Ruth Bernhard and Phil Dreiss cooked their lamb chop dinner early Tuesday, in case the power failed, then sat on a bench in Century Village in the afternoon to enjoy the stiff Hurricane Floyd breeze. "We feel safe and secure," said Bernhard, 66, who skipped the plywood and any thought of evacuation. They're built like fortresses," she said of the 7,854 condominiums on Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach. As the afternoon progressed, Bernhard's relaxed attitude seemed less cavalier. The Category 4 hurricane, expected to pack winds of up to 100 mph in Palm Beach County, swayed seaward. As the pre-storm waiting began Tuesday, calm prevailed in two other large retirement communities: Century Village West in Boca Raton and King's Point in Delray Beach. "Sometimes the television, they excite people," said Ben Grill, 79, a nine-year Century Village West resident They look for the worst." Grill drove his Oldsmobile Eighty Eight around the neighborhood to see what was happening. "Look, it's sunny out," he said, pointing to the 10 a.m. sky. "It's beautiful." A few blocks down the street, Irene Rosen, 75, recycled her newspapers. She wasn't concerned about the storm. "What can I do, take the car and run away?" She listened to the news and bought more to drink. Jules Lampert, 83, put safety first. He was one of the few Century Village West residents to nail plywood over his windows. "Nobody else wants to do it," he shrugged. Lampert keeps the boards neatly stored and labeled with notes such as "living room left," so he knows which piece goes where. While Lampert and his wife, Esther, were content to sit at home and weather the storm, about 30 of their neighbors were unhappy to return early from a Miami Beach hotel where they planned to celebrate the Jewish holidays with about 500 fellow guests. The group from the conservative Temple Beth Shalom at Century Milage West had to leave the Saxony Hotel about 10 p.m. Monday under evacuation orders. "Such bedlam!" said Muriel Golovensky, , who joined the evacuation. "I held court on these holidays years ago," Golovensky said of the dinners she threw as a rabbi's wife in New York. "Now I'm reduced to this. It makes me blue." If fair weather returns, Golovensky hopes to return to Miami Beach in time for Yom Kippur Sunday night. Melita Blumenfeld, a King's Point resident in Delray Beach, kept her holiday challah in the refrigerator, next to the canned goods she got from the Meals on Wheels program. The television blared warnings in her living room. She was cautious but confident Blumenfeld had plenty of food and water and a chair with a pillow in her walk-in closet in case she had to sit there. As she waited for the storm she revealed that Tuesday a day full of worry and preparation was her 87th birthday. She looked out the window at the cloudy sky and mused on the coincidence. "I always say God is talking to us, but we don't know his language," she said. Storm researchers get assist from homeowners! -z: IZ IZL w- I . By Eliot Weinberg Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Instruments on the roofs of three Palm Beach County homes measured Floyd's assault for researchers who were installing them even as the first strong winds were coming ashore. As part of the state's Coastal Monitoring Program, homes in Delray Beach, Lantana, Riviera Beach and Jupiter received free upgrades for maximum storm protection; in exchange, homeowners let Clemson University researchers plant sensors on the homes. The Clemson team got to all but the Riviera Beach home Tuesday before leaving the area. Also, teams from Texas Tech University were at two Central Florida sites Tuesday, and Oklahoma University's "Doppler-on-Wheels" mobile weather unit was setting up along the coast The various research teams gather valuable information that governments, the construction industry, insurers and others use to determine how to build homes better and how to set up the right kind of evacuation, preparation, relief and recovery efforts. The state has set up a string of homes about every 12 to 15 miles Rosowsky, a professor of civil of Engineering at Clemson. Two crews from Texas Tech University set up in Titusville and Day-tona Beach, although the Dayton Beach crew planned to move shortly, Tim Doggett, a professor of atmospheric sciences, said from Lubbock, Texas. The crews will raise two '30-foot towers into the storms, Doggett said. The "Doppler on Wheels" unit of Oklahoma University was driven to Florida Monday night and researchers flew in Tuesday; the team was expected to set up somewhere near the Central Florida coast, research scientist Scott Richardson said from Norman, Okla. - Doppler radar is a powerfuf tol that sends penlight beams that-c&n pinpoint wind movement and other weather factors. It usually sits hi a fixed place, such as the roof of a weatherstation. c The mobile Doppler radars , are mounted on the backs of two trucks, which are driven right into storms, tornadoes and even hurricanes. B ' Staff writer Jeff Ostrowski contributed to this report. BOB SHANLEYStaff Photographer Sensors that gather weather data sit atop this Delray Beach house. The homes were also fitted with a backup power supply and exterior video cameras; both stay year-round. And homeowners got free structural reinforcements .and window coverings in exchange for their participation. Researchers had just started the project when Hurricane Floyd menaced Florida. The chance to study a huge hurricane sent the engineers running to Florida to gather data, said David from Homestead to Jupiter. Instruments placed on roofs and walls and in attics measure important data about the storm, such as wind speed and direction, rainfall and atmospheric pressure, but also how the homes perform, Traci Buzbee, planning manager for the monitoring program, said from Tallahassee. She said the equipment will help determine the interaction between the weather and a building's shape, interior area and outside exposure. TELEVISION Local stations don't blow too hard, but still channel urgency Spanish speakers offered ; options to get latest reports ; The big thing is to not scare viewers. If there's too much anxiety in my voice, people pick that up. ' JOHN MATTHEWS Channel 12 chief meteorologist site to ask questions, many of which were answered either on the air or the Internet. It received e-mail questions from places such as Australia, Georgia and California, Colee said. To make sure Spanish-speaking viewers weren't shut out, Channel 5's John Favole and Tania Rogers delivered reports in Spanish. And Channel 12 hired an interpreter for viewers who speak Creole and Spanish. So, what's the cost of this increased coverage? The stations won't say, but Colee acknowledged, "We're spending money like drunken sailors." Channel 12 offered the most complete coverage of the day. Constant on-air shelter information on the screen was particularly helpful. Other stations chose to provide shelter updates every 10 minutes or so. There are other things beside shelter information that people want to know about" Cronan said. Hurricane coverage wouldn't be complete without a shot of a wind-whipped reporter at the beach. One Channel 12 reporter, for instance, implored viewers to stay away from Jensen Beach, which had been evacuated. The question: Why was he still there? Well, big waves, heavy rain and high winds on the beach are the money shots for local TV stations. Then there was Channel 25's Joan Murray getting out of the station's "Storm Chaser" vehicle at Juno Beach. Was that a leftover Twister prop? Fortunately, those laughable gaffes were kept to a minimum in what turned out to be first-rate storm coverage from all the local stations. By Kevin D. Thompson Palm Beach Post Television Writer Despite the disastrous potential of Hurricane Floyd, local TV stations showed great restraint during Tuesday's daylong coverage. Instead of relying on dramatic music, high-tech graphics and panic-inducing reports, local stations delivered mostly comprehensive coverage that was surprisingly low key. "Our weather team knows that they need to inform people and make it clear when there is concern," said Margaret Cronan, WPBF-Channel 25's news director. "We are not in the alarm business." Said Don Colee, WPEC-Channel 12's programming director: "Our goal is to be serious without inducing hysteria." John Matthews, Channel 12's chief meteorologist, said he often reminds himself to remain calm to ease viewers' fears. The big thing is to not scare viewers," Matthews said. "I say, 'John, , you're talking to your friends out there, so don't scare them.' If there's too much anxiety in my voice, people pick that up." But as a veteran meteorologist, doesn't Matthews live for these kinds of stories? After all, covering a hurricane is Matthews' Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup and NBA Finals wrapped into one. The homeowner, family man in me says, 'I want nothing to do with hurricanes in our beautiful paradise.' But on the other hand, when the winds are rolling across our back yard, I'm thinking, Wow, this is exciting!' " Some news directors admitted that they learned their lesson after going overboard covering previous hurricanes, minutes. He also urged listeners to'-, contact the Palm Beach County's Emergency Operations Center, j$ where volunteers helped Spanish-1 speaking callers. Of the 4,500 calls to the center,' , about 500 came from Spanish speakers, said Ruth Moguillansky, bilingual county planner who art-; swered telephones beginning at 3, . a.m. Tuesday. J Moguillansky said she did live; interviews with Radio Fiesta, WLTV ' Channel 23 in Miami and Miami ra;.; dio stations. ' While many Hispanics in Palm, Beach County were glued to Univi-o" sion's Channel 23, the Spanish-1,! speaking newscasters did not have' continuous updates about shelters y and conditions in Palm Beach; County. Most of the callers wanted local information, Moguillansky said. One call came from a girl who.' was calling for her mother, said,'' County Commissioner Carol Rob- erts. Roberts told the girl to put the mother on the line and hold for Mo-1 guillansky. "It's important to give them the ' information in Spanish," Roberts'" said. By Bill Douthat Palm Beach Post Staff Writer For those who don't understand English, the early television images of Hurricane Floyd were frightening beyond words. "We had a whole segment of our community watching our station who were frantic because they couldn't understand what we were saying," said WPEC Channel 12 news anchor Liz Quirantes. Beginning Monday night, Quirantes gave two-minute updates in Spanish every half-hour so that the hundreds of viewers who don't speak English could put words to the scary images. WPTV Channel 5 also slipped into Spanish from time to time to keep all viewers informed. Spanish-language radio stations issued hurricane bulletins and information throughout the day. "We are telling them what the National Hurricane Center is saying and also giving information on how to prepare their homes and where to find the shelters," said Helman Ruiz of Radio Fiesta WLVS-1380 AM in Lake Worth. Ruiz was on the air from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., giving updates every 10 to 15 particularly Hurricane Georges last year. But giving viewers too much information is better than not giving them enough, they said. "I'd rather cry Wolf!' once or twice than not deliver the appropriate warning," said Bob Jordan, WPTV-Channel 5's general manager. "Only God knows how severe these storms are going to be." It's clear that local stations also are looking for new ways to reach more viewers. For instance, live Internet broadcasts, radio simulcasts, call-in phone banks, Spanish and Creole broadcasts and sign-language staffers for hearing-impaired viewers were all employed. Channel 25 even brought in a Cincinnati meteorologist and a Washington, D.C., bureau staffer to bolster its reporting. Channel 25's toll-free phone bank allowed viewers to call in with any hurricane questions or concerns. "Sometimes they want to talk about the storm and sometimes they just want somebody to talk to," Cronan said, adding that the station received more than 1,000 calls in two days. In addition to its phone bank, Channel 12 also Urged viewers to visit its Web

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