As Tropical Storm Ernesto zeroes in on and takes aim at and draws a bead on South Florida, the Sun-Sentinel, showing true Help Team spirit, gave us two pages of instruction on the storm inside the Local section today. Among its indispensable orders:
"If you have a TV antenna or satellite dish, take it down. Unplug your set first, and be careful not to touch power lines with the antenna."
Yeah, um, no. This seems not only idiotic but unsafe -- and aren't we supposed to watch TV for information on the storm? I'm not seeing legions of DirectTV users taking this bit of advice -- why would we self-impose ourselves to such isolation? But if you do listen to the Sentinel, while you're up there don't forget to:
"Remove turbine vents on the roof and replace with metal caps."
Is this a Tropical Storm coming or the end of days? I'm lucky I got ice and gas. There's no way I'm up on the roof trying to figure out how to take down the turbines.
Some of the demands look as if they were written up by the Anal-Retentive Chef:
"Scrub your plastic water containers with household soap, swab with bleach, rinse thoroughly, let dry. Then fill containers with water."
"To sterilize your bathtub, scrub with household soap, swab with bleach, rinse thoroughly, and let dry. Seal the drain with a silicone caulking that you can easily remove later. Fill the tub with water."
Look, man, I'm just not a swab-with-bleach kind of guy. I'll buy my water at Publix. But get a load how much the Sentinel is telling us to buy:
"Figure you will need a gallon per person per day for drinking and sanitation. Have a two-week supply on hand for each person."
That means a family of four then should have 56 gallons of water today. No wonder the groceries run out so quick -- the daily newspaper is telling people to hoard. Clearly, the newspaper can't distinguish between a tropical storm and a cat 5. But it doesn't stop there. It gets all micro on our asses. For instance:
"Replace worn windshield wipers."
You can see it now: the storm is bearing down on the Jones family when Dick looks at Jane with a mixture of shame and terror in his eyes.
"Good God no," he mutters. "The windshield wipers. We forgot to replace the windshield wipers!"
"No, Dick, don't say that!" Jane screams in a sudden panic. "Don't even say that. Not the windshield wipers!"
Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensues.
Oh and there's this:
"Obey all curfews."
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Yes, and name names if you must.
Finally, it ends with this bit of frank, Zen-like advice:
"The hours of living hell during a hurricane are over. Months of working like hell may be about to begin. Take your time. Do not overexert yourself. People need you."
There you go. If you didn't think the Sentinel meant all this stuff, then I think the gratuituous use of hell -- perhaps a first for the Sentinel editorial voice -- showed otherwise. Now replace those wipers, get up on the roof, and, for the love of all that is holy, swab like you mean it.