Archive for May 11, 2008

Florida Wildfires Cause Evacuations and Closure of I-95

MALABAR, Fla. — Hundreds of families were evacuated from their homes and Interstate 95 and other major roads were closed Sunday night as brush fires burned along Florida’s east coast.

Wind-whipped fires burning near I-95 near neighborhoods in Malabar threatened several homes and livestock Sunday night.

In another part of the county, a fire forced residents out of about 100 to 200 homes near Cocoa, said Brevard County Fire and Rescue spokesman Orlando Dominguez.
That fire was larger than 100 acres, Dominguez said.

A portion of I-95 in Brevard County was shut down because of heavy smoke from a blaze near Malabar.

Homes Evacuated In Daytona Beach
About 400 Volusia County homes near Daytona Beach were under a mandatory evacuation order Sunday and about 200 homes were under a voluntary evacuation advisory, authorities said.

The Volusia County brush fire burned about 500 to 600 acres and also led to road closures, Florida Division of Forestry spokesman Timber Weller said.

Weller said he was not sure how many residents of the Bayberry Lakes subdivision, along LPGA Boulevard, were forced to leave their homes. He said 20-mph winds and dry conditions made the fire especially challenging for crews.

“Control is extremely difficult and there’s basically several small subdivisions in the area and fires burning, in some cases, very close to the homes,” Weller said.

An American Red Cross shelter was set up at a Daytona Beach hotel for Volusia County evacuees and the city has established a hot line, according to a news release.

About 200 animals housed at the Halifax Humane Society were also evacuated.

Wind-Driven Fire Forces Evacuations In St. Johns County
A 50-acre fire in St. Johns County also forced people from their homes along state Road 207.

Firefighters in Flagler County, Jacksonville and East Palatka are helping St. Johns County try to keep the wind from spreading the flames beyond fire lines.

No homes were lost by Sunday night.

“I’m hoping that it’s going to go past us, but it’s still scary,” said Mary Melvin, one of a handful of families evacuated. “The way the winds blowing, it could blow it away from us, it could take it to us. I wish it would just stop.”

The National Weather Service said the winds are not expected to die down until Tuesday or Wednesday and has issued a red flag warning for much of central and north Florida for Monday.

A second fire in St. Johns County on Sunday burned 40 or 50 acres before it was contained. Officials said that fire, in the Vermont Heights area, may have been intentionally set by three juveniles who were seen playing with a lighter.

Source: News4Jax

Happy Wildfire Season!

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Happy Mother’s Day

I hope all the mothers out there had a lovely mother’s day spent eating delicacies at a fancy restaurant of their choosing paid for by their lovely families, receiving flowers, and otherwise being presented with tokens of their family’s esteem.

I intended to go up and do the same for my mother, but her electricity was out and she feared leaving my terminally ill stepdad alone with no electricity and a tornado watch in effect, so we have a raincheck to do it tomorrow or Tuesday, depending on the weather. I was going to kick back and relax in my La-Z chair, read a book, and wait for my children to worship me when I got a call from the sheep shearer. He was in town and could be at my house in about an hour and a half.

Book went flying one way, and I took off out the door because the barn was in a state of disrepair that only somebody that has rambunctious rams can appreciate. Gate posts were knocked down, gates were destroyed, and the whole thing really needed rebuilding. We had an hour and a half to get it done.

I say “we” because, for the first year in a long time, SwampMan went out to the barn to help me. This was nice, but……SwampMan believes in doing things right, whereas I can fix a lot of stuff with hay rope and cattle panels. I could have had the barn ready within 45 minutes but an hour and a half later, we hadn’t even gotten the gates up yet when the shearer came driving up. With SwampMan cutting off boards with the Sawzall and me whacking in nails and staples with a bigass hammer, we were done before much longer. SwampMan went into the house totally exhausted. I still had to get the sheep from the pasture into the barn, catch ’em, halter ’em, drag their wooly butts out to the shearer, put them back inside, and grab the next victim.

I love my sheep shearer. He comes down once a year from up north and without him, I believe all the sheep would be gone by now. Don’t get me wrong, I can shear and have done so in the past with way more sheep than I have now, but my back isn’t as young as it used to be. Plus I had kids to fetch the sheep for me. When I do it myself, I have to catch a sheep, drag him to where I want to shear him, shear him, turn him loose, then go catch another sheep. With a shearer, I get to skip the bending over and shearing the sheep part.

At 10:30 p.m., we finished. I came inside to find SwampMan asleep, and I had missed the calls from my adoring children. I don’t really feel like cooking or going into town to grab a burger at McDonald’s to celebrate mother’s day. Guess I’ll just take a hot shower to get the sheep smell off of me and head to bed.

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Musing on Al Gore and Burma

Former Vice President Al Gore says global warming is to blame for the Myanmar cyclone. In an interview with National Public Radio, Gore called the storm one of the “consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with global warming.”

Interesting. I wonder how he reconciles the long-lasting hurricane on Jupiter (first discovered by Galileo) with the lack of global warming. The temperature on Jupiter, as far as I know, is about -175 F.

In the meantime, commercial citrus groves are not being replanted in my county or up north in Georgia.

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Fuel Distributor Explains How Fuel is Priced, Lays Blame for Current Prices on Speculators

MIAMI, FL — Why are gas prices rising nearly every day? When will it stop, and who’s behind it? Those are questions that many of us are asking.

One Florida fuel distributor wants the public to know that the blame shouldn’t fall on gas station owners. Gas magnate Max Alvarez owns and operates 65 stations in Florida and distributes to 100 more. He buys directly from the oil companies.

At 6 pm, the oil companies notify his West Miami office how much they will charge per gallon that day. Max then adds in taxes and freight to calculate what price his stations will be able to sell the gasoline at.

With wholesale prices at record levels and local competition tough, Max says he only adds one or two cents to the cost of each gallon. That’s far below the ten to 15 cents he needs to add to the price for the fuel sales to be profitable.

He blames speculators for the skyrocketing prices. Speculators are investors who buy oil commodities, hoping they’ll go up. Analysts say speculators can’t really influence the price of crude because they don’t take oil off the market.

“There’s a lot of people to be blamed, but I can assure you the speculators, Wall Street people have a lot to do with this,” Max said.

Source:

I had lunch with the grandson in a small independently-owned restaurant yesterday. The clientele were rural black and white folk. The talk at the tables were the high prices at the pump, how the environmentalists and Dems had prevented new refineries from being built since the 1970s, and how Cuba/China were exploiting oil fields off the coast of Florida that U.S. companies were forbidden to access. Oh, snap. The rubes know who to blame for high energy costs.

Notice how nobody is chanting “no blood for oil” anymore?

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Pelican Collides with Face of Swimmer

TAMPA – Maybe she’d get stung by a jellyfish. Maybe she’d be attacked by a shark.

Debbie Shoemaker kept those scenarios in the back of her mind Thursday as she swam in the Gulf of Mexico off Treasure Island. Then, out of nowhere, a swooping pelican rammed into her face and ripped through her cheek with its footlong beak.

“I immediately put my hand on my face and blood was gushing out,” said Shoemaker, 50, a housecleaner from Toledo, Ohio, who was vacationing in the Bay area this week.

She needed 25 stitches. She is on painkillers and antibiotics and cannot eat solid food; emergency responders and fire rescue officials told her it was the first pelican incident of its kind in the area.

“I don’t think in the 33 years I’ve been here I’ve seen anything like that,” said St. Pete Beach Fire Rescue Chief Fred Golliner.

Pelicans, which typically weigh about 6 pounds and are known for their distinctive long bills and droopy pouches, do not attack humans. They dive straight down, beak first, when they’re going after a fish, said Anita Pinder, director of development at Sanibel Island’s Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, which works a lot with pelicans.

“He either saw a fish and went for it or mistook her for a fish. I think the former is much more likely,” Pinder said.

The most a pelican might do is angrily snap its beak if a person gets too close or harasses it, she said.

“The person had nothing to do with it; she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time because they pelicans clearly do not attack,” she said.

The pelican died on impact, witnesses told Shoemaker, who was whisked to shore by four good Samaritans.

She stanched the blood with her beach towel and went to Palms of Pasadena Hospital in St. Petersburg for treatment, which included a consultation with a plastic surgeon.

The gash on her left cheek is 3 inches long, Shoemaker said by telephone from her home in Toledo. Doctors told her they were concerned about the accident’s impact on her salivary glands and the tiny bones that help her smile, she said.

She left on the first flight out Friday morning, cutting her vacation short by three days. She consulted her local doctor in Ohio on Friday afternoon.

“It was just like I got punched in the face, like, really super hard. You can imagine; they travel pretty fast – and having that come right at you,” she said.

Shoemaker loves to travel alone. She wakes when she wants to, hits the beach when she feels like it. She usually comes to Florida twice a year and often visits with her friend, Barbara Hatcher, 50, of Tampa, whom she has known since the second grade.

Hatcher spent the night at Shoemaker’s hotel room Thursday because Shoemaker was too spooked to be by herself.

“I would have never dreamed to be aware of something like this,” Shoemaker said.

She doesn’t think she’ll travel alone anytime soon. Too many things can happen, she said.

Someday, she’ll come back to Florida, though.

“I might just basically stay in the pool,” she said.

Source: Tampa Bay Online

Mother nature has been pretty rough on tourists lately. I hope that she recovers well with no effect on her smile or her salivary glands.

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