Saturday, July 16, 2005

Grim Photo Tour

Thursday's Pensacola News Journal included a headline so misleading that even the normally somnambulent copy editors noticed it -- after the paper went out, of course. The newsroom was buzzing with the sound of sadly shaking heads. The headline read:

Things Not So Grim After All For Beach

In fairness to reporter Fredie Carmichael, whose byline ran with the story, it's barely possible someone else wrote the headline -- someone, perhaps, who's been living in Beirut the last three years or, quite possibly, a sanitorium inmate who is stark raving mad.

Was there really any basis for concluding "things not so grim on the beach"? Well, here's the "good news" Carmichael reported:
Cliff Taylor had just completed $80,000 worth of Hurricane Ivan repairs to his Pensacola Beach home when Hurricane Dennis showed up at his doorstep.

Now, Taylor has to start all over again.

The northwesterly winds of Dennis ripped the roof off his 1312 Via de Luna home, exposing the living room and part of the kitchen. Taylor was frustrated Wednesday as he sipped a Diet Coke, stood in the sun and watched family members work to salvage what they could from his home.

But there was some good news: He was able to drive the 2½ miles east on Via de Luna to his home, with supplies and tools in the back of his truck."
Say, now that's really good news. Beach residents now can drive to see what little is left of their sodden, roofless homes.

That's almost as terrific as finding out the funeral home has a sale on caskets the week your spouse dies.

In any event, the PNJ headline inspired a drive along the side streets and main streets of the beach, east and west. At a glance, less than 15% of all residences seem occupied -- or habitable. Maybe... just maybe 20% of the businesses are open, but a much lesser share of the hotels.

Take the 'good news tour' yourself. But bring a crying towel.

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