Life in the Orlando area is still far from normal in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley. Some 750,000 Central Florida residents have been without power for four days since Charley hit, and officials estimate it may be another week or longer before power is restored in some places.
The lack of power has caused mounting problems in Orlando. Some 20-30 percent of traffic lights still aren’t functioning. Major intersections are being manned by police, but crossing many of the unmanned intersections is like playing Russian roulette. Intersections where traffic lights aren’t working are supposed to be treated like 4-way stops, but a majority of drivers are just driving right on through.
The lack of power also has affected sanitation. Many pumping stations have been knocked out and sewage is beginning to back up and bubble over into streets and houses. Residents of several Orlando neighborhoods are under orders to boil their drinking water.
Finding gasoline has become a major problem. Many gas stations have no power to pump gas, leaving those that can with long lines of cars waiting to fill up. Tempers have flared, resulting in police being stationed at gas stations to keep the peace. Stations that do have gas are quickly being drained, and new supplies have been slow in arriving.
Ice, too, is a rare commodity for people trying to make do without electricity. Water and ice – some of it from as far away as Wisconsin – were being distributed at fire stations and community centers.
Orange County schools will not reopen until next week, creating child-care problems for parents who have returned to work.
American Red Cross officials said assessment teams have found 4,281 homes damaged by Charley in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. The hurricane caused major damage to 770 of those, and another 149 were destroyed. The cleanup process is ongoing, but debris is everywhere and downed trees on top of houses is still a common sight. Debris cleared from streets and yards sits in 6-foot high continuous walls along both sides of the road in some neighborhoods.
I could go on, but needless to say the area is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Charley.