Below are some vignettes along the path of Hurricane Frances:
On Miami’s trendy South Beach, the usually bustling thoroughfare of outdoor cafes and posh hotels was nearly deserted Thursday. Just two restaurants were catering to the last few remaining tourists still trying to get off the evacuated barrier island.
Well known establishments like the News Cafe and The Clevelander Hotel were boarded up and vacant in preparation for Frances. Taxi cars trolled the sun-baked streets looking for stranded tourists whose vacations were cut short.
Miami Beach was placed under a hurricane warning earlier in the day, and officials later ordered people to evacuate.
Two outdoor cafes, a small bodega and a Walgreens remained in business Thursday afternoon. La Sandwicherie, an outdoor French deli, was still serving customers as others evacuated.
On tony Lincoln Road, known for its high-end shops and swanky restaurants, every business on the mall-like stretch of road was boarded up. Only Club Score remained open on the road, and one employee said the club would stay open until 5 a.m., though the employees outnumbered the three customers inside.
Officials at Miami International Airport urged hundreds of stranded passengers to relocate to shelters.
The passengers had been hoping to get flights out Thursday night, before Hurricane Frances moved any closer.
“We’re stressing to people that are not going to be able to get out to go to one of the authorized shelters in the county,” airport spokesman Marc Henderson said. “It’s difficult to house this many people, and the airport is not a shelter.”
Henderson said buses were being provided to transport passengers to shelters.
Although he hadn’t witnessed any problems, Henderson said he can only imagine the anguish stranded passengers must be feeling.
“Obviously if you’ve been here all day and can’t get out, you’re going to be frustrated,” he said. “We’re trying to alleviate that. We would rather get these people to a shelter instead of having them wait in line thinking they may get out and it never happen.”
Workers at one of southern Florida’s most-observed landmarks are hoping it will withstand the mutiny of another major hurricane.
The pirate ship at The Mutineer Restaurant on U.S. Highway 1 in Florida City was one of the few buildings that was essentially unscathed in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew, which damaged or flattened almost every other structure in the area.
“During Hurricane Andrew this thing survived without even a broken window,” said Arthur Friedman, a maintenance worker at The Mutineer.
Located where Florida’s Turnpike ends and the 18-mile stretch to the Florida Keys begins, the 10-foot-long ship is showing some age, but still rests in the shallow pool and grassy area that serves as a playground for ducks, emus and goats.
Friedman and two other employees worked under a blazing sun Thursday to unfasten and bring down two large marlin made of heavy plastic that adorn the outside of the restaurant while people inside munched on a lunch buffet.
Friedman said the goats and emus belong to The Mutineer’s owner and would likely be taken out of the fenced-in pond area.
He recalled how, after Andrew, The Mutineer was one of the only places for miles that was open, and the restaurant offered free food for hungry residents of Florida City and neighboring Homestead.
“They were open back up before anybody was were serving food to people,” Friedman said.
Many evacuees have fled to neighboring Georgia and towns like Tifton.
The Tifton Holiday Inn’s parking lot was full of cars and RVs with Florida tags. Evacuees arrived with dogs, birds and lizards. Some came in convoys of cars jammed with some of their most cherished possessions.
Billy Walker just happened to get a job promotion in time to escape the latest storm. He and his wife Teresa were on their way from Tampa to a new home in Atlanta with their dog.
“I’ve been there all my life and I can’t get out quick enough,” Walker said. “I suppose if you spend your life dealing with snow and ice, you probably long to get away from it. If you spend your life dodging floods and hurricanes, after a while you want to try something different.”
Brian and Erika Marwood had just checked into the hotel, and told of having recently moved from Colorado to Orlando, where they ran into Hurricane Charley.
While Charley stormed over their home, the Marwoods sat in their bathroom, illuminated only by glow sticks and candles for two hours during a power outage.
The Marwoods decided not to ride out Frances. “You can’t do anything if you don’t have your lives,” said Brian Marwood. “For us, it’s our lives and our psyches and then everything else.”
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