Dave Barry is the Answer Man for your questions about the response to the hurricane.
Q. When am I going to get my electricity back?
A. The latest statement from Florida Power & Light is that “we expect to have all power in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties fully restored by, at the very latest, Easter.”
Q. Why is it taking so long to restore power?
A. Wilma’s unexpectedly strong winds caused major damage to three of FP&L’s five longest extension cords.
Q. Is my water safe to drink?
A. Your water is perfectly safe, although the South Florida Water Authority does recommend that before drinking any water or touching it with your bare hands, you should boil it “until the worms stop moving.”
Q. How are the levees holding up?
A. We spoke to a spokesperson for the South Florida Levee Authority (SFLA), who assured us that South Florida does not have any levees, but if we did, they would definitely be in bad shape.
Q. I keep hearing that, since the traffic lights are out, I should treat a stoplight intersection as if it were a “four-way stop.” What does this mean?
A. It means that, when you reach the intersection, you should do what you normally do at a stop sign here in South Florida.
Q. You mean, ignore it?
A. That is the South Florida way.
Q. Where can I buy gasoline?
Q. How will the hurricanes affect the schools?
A. The school year started earlier than ever this year, smack dab in the middle of hurricane season. Incredibly, the school schedule has been severely disrupted by — you are going to be very surprised — hurricanes! Who could have predicted such a thing? In any event, our kids have missed a LOT of school. Many 10th-graders no longer remember the alphabet. This could really hurt our standardized-test scores. So the Broward and Miami-Dade school boards have decided to lengthen the school year by adding a new month, to be inserted between November and December. It will be called “FCATember.”
Q. You’re kidding, right?
A. I don’t know any more.
Q. Why are we getting so many hurricanes lately?
A. Climate experts, after studying changes in ocean-water temperatures over the past 50 years, now believe that the recent increase in hurricane activity is being caused by a cracked mirror in the kitchen of my mother-in-law, Celia Kaufman. It cracked a few weeks ago, and since then not only have we been nailed by roughly a dozen hurricanes, but also Celia had a car accident, my brother in-law Steve hurt his back, the Dolphins offensive line has been penalized for 4,752 false starts, and President Bush, apparently without even realizing it, nominated a former Texas State Lotto executive to the U.S. Supreme Court. “This can’t all be coincidence,” state the climate experts. “Somebody needs to FIX THAT WOMAN’S MIRROR.”
Q. So is the mirror being fixed?
A. FEMA is working on it.
Q. So we are doomed.