opinion

Surviving The Storm

Stephen Yagielowicz
Bonnie, and Charley, and Frances – Oh My!

Many Florida residents are no strangers to the physical, emotional, financial, and business stresses that Hurricanes can unexpectedly inflict. Even the online adult industry is affected by natural disasters, and with the latest in a series of named storms to strike "The Sunshine State" poised to take another swing at the Northern Gulf coast today after its weekend rampage across Central Florida, I wanted to let you all know that you might expect unavoidable interruptions from suppliers located there, including content providers, design firms, hosting companies – and yes, even attorneys.

Providing a first hand look at 'ground zero' in the hours leading up to Frances' landfall, Attorney Lawrence Walters (www.FirstAmendment.com) provided this personal perspective on the situation that he, and many others, are currently facing:

"Our law firm is located smack dab in the middle of the path of both Hurricane Charley, and now Hurricane Francis. For those of you who are curious about what this must be like, here are some thoughts.

Just when my practice began to get back to normal last week, in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley, the reports began surfacing of a large Category 4 hurricane churning in the Atlantic, and headed our way once again. Most of our staff and attorneys in the Altamonte Springs, Florida, office lost power during the last storm; some for almost a week. The task of remaining focused on the practice of law has been a challenge for us over the last few weeks. Given the fact that we maintain a worldwide practice, many of our clients from outside the State of Florida do not understand how disruptive and chaotic things can get in the run up to, and aftermath, of a Florida Hurricane. Fortunately, most clients have been understanding about the necessity of moving back deadlines, and delaying the acceptance of new work. Since we will likely loose power (and thus Internet access) again after Francis moves through, projects will be delayed, and local court hearings continued again.

The anxiety level has been building since Monday, as gasoline began getting scarce, and generators were sold out. We all filled up our refrigerators with food, stocked up on canned goods, and tanked up on water. Some of us decided to bail, and left the state. Others who have dogs or other inhibiting factors, have decided to ride it out and batten down the hatches. A significant complicating factor this time is the fact that piles of debris left over from Charley continue to line the streets of our neighborhoods. Although some of this has been removed, substantial tree limbs, branches and other potentially dangerous projectiles remain in close vicinity to residential windows. One neighbor attempted to remove the debris himself, and drop it off at the city landfill on Friday, but was turned away, and told that accepting the debris would involve “too much paperwork.” The potential for flying debris caused by 110mph winds has all the Central Florida residents on edge. Most windows are boarded up, and sandbags line the entry ways.

The power of the government comes into stark relief, as dusk to dawn curfews have been imposed, and all cars have been banned from the roads, as I write this. The Chief Judge in our area has imposed a ‘no bond’ order for looters and those who ignore the curfew. Mother Nature is a powerful force to be sure, but the perseverance of man is stronger. All local residents start to band together in emergencies like this, and the good in people comes out. Remember the debris in the street that the landfill would not accept? All the neighbors pulled together and dragged the junk into a safe location. People walked around with cold water to refresh the tree removal contractors and power workers after Charley, and I expect that this time will be no different. We’re all in the same boat, so to speak. I suspect by the time this is over, we’ll wish that were literally true.

Larry Walters, somewhere near Orlando."

Whether it's the wind, the water, or in our own case here in California with earthquakes, blizzards and fires, Mother Nature can negatively impact our operations, and our lives... With word today of Hurricane Ivan posing a possible threat to Florida even as Frances rages on, the worse may not yet be over. Now's the time to send prayers, patience, and understanding, to our friends in Florida ~ Stephen

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