I have been watching the recovery of Key West from Irma with some interest. Federal money has been made available and Governor Rick Scott, a man with ambitions in the Senate after he is termed out of the Governor's office, has responded to this weather crisis with alacrity and surefootedness. He reminds me of Jeb Bush after Wilma and I don't mean that in a bad way.
For working people this disruption means loss of wages, loss of possessions including cars which are generally rated the second most expensive object most people will buy in their lives. So they come together on social media and they sloganeer. Strength is the theme and I find it rather unfortunate that strength is not a facet of unity in this period of reconstruction.
The Monroe County lack of leadership and preparation left most of the islands without police protection and their stupidity telling the world and not putting a roadblock at Florida City created appalling vandalism and looting scenarios that have not happened previously and I hope will never happen again. We certainly need a new Sheriff, not man who plays Sheriff for the TV cameras. By contrast I was very proud of Chief Donie Lee who was steadfast in the crisis, kept us together and worked the plan and had officers on the streets right before and immediately after the storm. WE were all well looked after and treated with dignity and patience during the most fearsome moments of the storm. The Chief made it easy to volunteer to stay.
And in the week after the storm cleared I had time to reflect on the glaring absence of the organs of leadership in Key West. The newspaper played no leading role in any part of the storm. Making it's news available for free might have helped as a gesture especially as people like me with a paper subscription don't get access to the digital paper even when I haven't seen a paper in my driveway for two weeks... Plus the Citizen needs to wake up to the fact that digital news breaks more than once a day especially in an event like Wilma. The newspaper was blown into insignificance by people talking to each other on Facebook. Anyone who thinks Facebook is irrelevant needs to be stuck in the dark without cell phone or water for four days to meditate on the ability to simply reach out by phone with friends and family. I'll never criticize Facebook or the people who use it again. The newspaper? I'm thinking of abandoning my subscription as they clearly don't get the modern world.
Then there are the people who have made fortunes milking the cow that is tourist Key West. The people who sell the working people the "Key West Strong" people down the river every opportunity they get. Nowhere in this city was a developer to be seen offering shelter or food or even something as simple as a free concert with hamburgers to raise morale after the event. You'd think in a town where a beer and a bit of music constitute a happening some of the multi millionaire bar owners could have brought some unity and fun to a street corner on Duval. Not a bit of it. I'm sure they'll tout the Key West Strong thing when there are cameras to watch and tourists to applaud but right now in a dark smelly town with groups of locals sweating bricks to clean up there's not one piece of relaxation away from the crisis. Not one, not for a moment. Gee.
As for the millionaire class who will no doubt be petitioning FEMA for every dollar they can scrounge all I can imagine is that they see huge opportunities for change in this fearful landscape of ravaging winds and upturned trailers. I have no doubt Irma will help pave the way to remove cheap housing on Stock Island and replace it with vacation homes for the wealthy and large hurricane proof resorts like the beachside. These are the people nowhere to be seen with money, encouragement or sweat equity on the streets of the city that made them rich. Key West Strong indeed. Ky West exploited continues into a whole new chapter.