Welcome to Wilma World

“How did you do in the storm?” is the phrase around town. Everyone is asking, everyone is telling. The story of our lives is now told in two distinct sections: B.W. (Before Wilma) and A.W. (After Wilma). We are currently a town of very very tired people, some of us still completely overwhelmed. It’s looking like many households will be for awhile. For every clean-up task you complete, four more appear. It’s pretty daunting.

But everyone is putting one foot in front of the other. I ran into my friend Mimi who lost EVERYTHING, she was smiling and asked how I was doing. Jack, who also lost EVERYTHING, told me today he is taking it one day at a time. Wendy had 6′ of water in her house (she lives in the neighborhood where the video was shot, see below). She is still in shock. She won’t be home for months, is looking for a place to live and some comfortable shoes.

When your entire house is flooded, it’s like rebuilding: you take out the wet walls from the ground up to about 4′ which means taking out all bathrooms, kitchens, all furniture, doors, everything. Then you rebuild, repaint, refurnish. I just left a CBS house that had only studs from the floor up to 4’… It is estimated that 60% of the homes got some flooding and these are just four stories. There are plenty more.

For all Wilma Survivors in town, there are two excellent survivor parties coming up. The first is tomorrow night, Saturday, at Blue Heaven starting at 7:30pm. The Survivors (Quint Lange, Din and Woody Allen, Elmo Hooten) are in town and will be playing, $10 entry fee gets you a Caribbean Pork Dinner with all the trimmings and a chance to dance under the stars. All proceeds benefit Womankind – don’t miss this, it’s one of the best parties of the year and practically free! I’ll be there serving drinks and calling out raffle prize winners. Please join us!

Next weekend, Skipper Kripitz is hosting his first “Rarely Heard Piano Pals” at St. Paul’s, Sunday 11/20 4pm. It’s a hurricane benefit party, $10 donation at the door, students 19 or under free. This sounds like a very good time!

We are surviving. The only bad news is that I’m experiencing life on the pointy end of a Code Enforcement boot. I’m posting the full Lenny Bruce version on my blog. (Of course I have a blog. I’m chatty Cathy in print.)

The long and short of it is that I pulled some drywall that wasn’t my own and was red-tagged. According to the city anyone can do that in this time of emergency. I called the Code Enforcement Guy and gave him an earful. I’m stressed, what can I say?

Beware fellow citizens, even if you are within your rights, NEVER NEVER EVER tell a CE Guy what you are thinking because now I’m the only person in town who has to get a licensed contractor to hang drywall. Mr. CEG determined he can’t allow me to do what everyone else is allowed to do because this would hinder his ability to do his job in the future. Would that be his job of harassing working citizens? Sloppy drywall hardly seems like a safety issue.

Have you tried to get a licensed contractor today? HAHAHAHAHAHA. My first 18 calls to contractors asking for drywall help for this 500sf cottage netted howls of laughter, and/or “we’re not taking anymore drywall work – call me in two weeks”. Gary the Carpenter, God bless him, took pity and sent a guy over who is now working to finish the job and get my tenants home. Gary is my personal hero.

This week, not content with a stop work order and 5 visits to the property so far (can’t the man find any useful work to do?) I’m told Mr. CEG intends to serve me with a notice of violation for working as a contractor without a license. This is a felony. A felony is punishable by death. Or a few years in the Big House. I’m in hiding now. If he finds me, I’m afraid he will try to staple gun the thing to my chest. The man likes his staple gun. Anyway, please send cigarettes, I will need them in prison.

Real estate is waking up to the A.W. market. A few of you have asked after Pollyanna [one of my alter egos]. We administered mild shock treatments, she died on the table once and saw God. Turns out God IS a woman. Pollyanna is recalled to life, still groggy and on some wonderful medication. I’ll keep you posted on her progress.

Something incredible happened overnight: the ruella is blooming again. It was under 3′ of saltwater, it was so brown and dead-looking. But there are purple flowers out there today. The periwinkle is coming back, the buttonwoods all seem to be thriving. It’s possible Key West could be glorious by the new year. This will definitely help the recovery move along. Come for a visit, keep sending the white light.

See you at Blue Heaven on Saturday night,


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