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Hurricane Dennis threatens and the First Coast's finest folks and news teams grab their cliches and rush into action.


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Tales of Hurricane Preps
Saturday, August 28, 1999   By: Br'er Juan

Hurricane Dennis threatens and the First Coast's finest folks and news teams grab their cliches and rush into action.

“Call me Ishmael,” says the stock clerk as he puts down his box cutter, lifts his Publix uniform cap and wipes the sweat from his forehead.  His skin glows almost as red as his hair.

“What the hell are you, uuuuhhhh, talking about?” asks the second stock clerk as he lifts a case of spring water packed tuna.

“You know, from English class last year.  He was fighting windmills like these people are fighting the hurricane by buying this stuff.  It’s unreal.”

“Uuhhh, whatever.”

“Ain’t there some law that says they can't make you work at 6 in the morning when you're 16.”  He cuts open a box of bottled Evian water.

“That’s weekdays.  This is Saturday, and there’s a hurricane coming.  Man I wish I was surfing.”

Yeah, I watched Tim Deegan on my TV last night.  He says it’s coming right at us.”

“He always says it’s coming right at us.  The boss’ll be coming right at us if we don't get these canned Danish hams on this display.”

“Oh, man.  They're as heavy as this water.  It’s unreal what these Ponte Vedra people will buy.  You walk right in the front door and you can get your Evian water, your spring water packed tuna – not regular tuna, your emergency candles, your Sterno, and your canned Danish hams.  And people are buying the hell out’a this stuff.”

“Yeah, last night my Dad and I went to Food Lion.  He bought Vienna sausages and Spam to go with his four twelve-packs of beer.  He says if the hurricane don't get here and cut off the cable by tonight, he might have to drink all the beer during the FSU game.”

 Moving northerly on Florida’s A-1-A from Ponte Vedra Beach, one notes the foreign live trucks parked in the Sand Castle Plaza’s parking lot.  Closer inspection shows that one truck is from Gainesville – the other from south Florida.  Both parked in front of the Flamingo Isle Trader Resort Wear Shop, which sports a huge “Summer Clearance Sale” banner in front.

If one were to peep through the window, one would see five people inside.  Two female reporters engage the sales clerk as they pick through safari shirts, looking for just the right clothing to impress any news director viewing their hurricane live shots on resume tapes.  Two photographers dressed in jeans and T-shirts sit semi-reclined and husband-like on matching striped couches that face one another in the rear of the store.

Farther north, traffic jams 14th and 15th Avenues – SUVs and mini-vans disgorge their contents.

“Man, look at the waves,” says Surfer Boy.

“Yaaahh, yaahhh, yahhhh,” answers Surfer Girl, pulling her long board from its bag, it’s custom paint matching the tattoo encircling her arm.

“Flat as glass all summer, now this on a weekend.  There is a surfing god.”


At 5th and 6th Avenues with the Jacksonville Beach pier between, the sky is filled with the predictable live truck masts.  And a dish from a Tampa station’s sat truck.  All trying to meet deadlines for their morning hurricane specials. 

“I've reported three hurricanes from this very spot,” says a tall, bright-toothed man viewing his hair in a mirror.  “Luckily, they were all near misses.”

He turns to a guy who’s wiping his hands on his T-shirt after pulling camera, tripods, cables, mics, and other assorted stuff from the live truck.  “Get a shot of those waves out there.  They're taking no prisoners.” 

“If you don’t help me unload this equipment, I'll get a shot of you trying to swim through those waves.”


In Neptune Beach, the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort hosts a rented sat truck and a crew from Orlando.  They've found a spot to set up which keeps the reporter out of the hot sun.

“Be sure to set up a reflector to highlight my hair,” she tells a crew member who’s trying to replace a crackling mic cord.


Finally, in Atlantic Beach, outside the Sea Turtle Inn, one finds the live truck of the One and Only Chananel 4.

“Yes, Tom,” whines reporter Ted Brown with his Judy Collins ranged voice, beginning his first live shot of the morning.  “I’m standing right on the border of Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach – one foot in Neptune and one foot in Atlantic.  We thought we’d show you a different place today.”

The folks at home see two meteorologists describe in detail the projected path of the storm, and then watch former Hurricane Center Director Dr. Bob Sheets go over the whole thing again.  All about how the steering currents will pull the hurricane along the Florida and Georgia coasts with the possibility it will come ashore in the Carolinas.

Dr. Sheets tosses back to smiling anchor Joyce Morgan.

“Hurricane Dennis has the experts baffled.  As our Brandon Keith shows us, people are taking no chances.”

Tales and Humor  

(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren