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Charley should make us demand better building standards

Published August 21, 2004

The lesson from Hurricane Charley is that we need to have better construction in Florida. We need construction to stand up to a Category 5 hurricane, not a summer thunderstorm. We need better construction, better house inspections and enforcement of the laws.

I'll bet that if a Category 5 hit those million-dollar mansions here on Tampa Bay they, too, would be wiped out. The bad construction is not only the mobile homes, it is all over Florida.

Let's not build a safe room but a safe house. Please have these architects, builders, building inspectors, etc., learn construction techniques from hurricane-prone countries or islands.

-- Frances Valentin, Brandon

Be prepared for the unpredictable

Re: Hurricane Charley preparation.

I recently sold our home in Palm Harbor and moved north to Dixie County, where we have bad storms as well. Since living in Florida on and off for the past 35 years, I have learned one major thing: Don't trust the weather men and women on TV. When you hear that a storm is in the Gulf of Mexico just get ready for it, because only Mother Nature knows where it is going. Be prepared.

I feel sorry for the people in Charlotte County who lost their belongings, but they should have been ready.

-- Paul L. Johnson, Old Town

Help the victims, here and in Iraq

The travails of the victims of Hurricane Charley are gut-wrenching and serious, especially for those of us in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties who believed the storm was headed straight at Tampa Bay. They have no electricity as daily temperatures push into the 90s (along with our world-class humidity), infrastructure in shambles, lack of potable water, crops ruined, thousands of jobs and homes lost, threats of looting, tempers flaring.

The Iraqi people have endured the same conditions for well over a year, with the additional obstacles of bombs, looting, no jobs but lots of snipers and criminal activity. Summer temperatures in Baghdad average over 120 degrees but electric power still hasn't been restored to 1992 levels, and sanitation, meaning water and waste treatment, is so bad that a general medical emergency may strike the Iraqis in coming months.

We should all pitch in and do what we can to help the victims of Charley get back on their feet and put their lives together. At the same time, we should reflect on what we as a nation have done, or not done, to help millions who are still trying to recover from Hurricane Shock and Awe.

-- James McGill, St. Pete Beach

Largo should reconsider firing

Re: For choosing mom over job, Largo worker is fired, Aug. 19.

Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert should have taken into consideration the work history of Largo City employee James Gesicki before terminating him for choosing his elderly mother's safety over reporting for work on Aug. 13.

This man is a dedicated 30-year employee. If Gesicki had been on the job Friday, I seriously doubt he would have been doing his job as a spray technician.

Mr. Schubert, maybe you should reconsider your decision. Everyone makes a mistake. Call your mother and ask her opinion of the situation.

-- Linda Flack, Seminole

A knee-jerk overreaction

Re: For choosing mom over job, Largo worker is fired.

Firing a Largo worker for helping his mom - talk about a knee-jerk overreaction. No harm came from this man helping to evacuate his mother. He placed his concern for his mother over his job. He should be commended, not fired.

Managers who too rigidly interpret rules, lose the respect of those they manage. City officials need to reconsider this decision. What would Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert have done if it were his mother?

-- Robert Glenn, Seminole

It's not worth reporting

Re: For choosing mom over job, Largo worker is fired, Aug. 19.

I didn't appreciate seeing this bleeding heart story on the front of the B Section.

I can't see where this is a story worth reporting. The employee was insubordinate, had other options for dealing with his problem, which he didn't implement, and is resigned to losing his job, which was not a surprise. This is newsworthy?

-- S.K. Ames, St. Petersburg

Luxury evacuation hard to swallow

Your Aug. 20 article, A grand old time at 100 grand a day, illustrated just how blind the rich are to the plight of those at the low end of the income scale. Of course, the residents of South Port Square were struck by the same hurricane, and, yes, they lost their homes temporarily, but the sheer snobbishness with which they view their situation is enough to boil my blood. They sit sipping scotch and snacking on Triscuits while they wait for the next meal to be brought to them, while people who have lost everything but the clothes on their backs are being fed peanut butter from a Red Cross truck.

My heart bleeds for those who have worked hard to establish decent lives here in paradise and who lost more than their hairdressers and golf courses. I sincerely hope that those residents of South Port Square will dig deep into their pockets and send cash to the rescuers. I also hope the South Port residents remember that those who help provide the quality of life they enjoy probably lost their homes and have no way of recovering: the migrant workers who help provide fresh vegetables; the hairdresser who helps the South Port ladies look nice; the store clerk who sells the scotch; the landscaper and gardener who keep their South Port Square community neat and beautiful.

-- Patricia Remmell, Brandon

Just capitalism at work

Whenever there is a disaster, they come out of the woodwork: the price gougers. The attorney general jumps up, opens a special hotline, and starts his re-election campaign early, prosecuting these predators. The problem is, in a free market, there is no such thing as price gouging.

When people come from, say, Alabama with a truckload of generators, bound for Punta Gorda or Lake Wales, they are driven by the capitalist incentive: money. They get here as fast as they can, to sell generators to whoever wants them, for whatever customers will willingly pay. If vendors didn't have that incentive, they wouldn't come, and the people in the affected areas wouldn't have any generators available, at any price.

Did you ever buy something from a seller far away and pay extra freight charges just to receive the item earlier? There's no difference. The out-of-state vendors are effectively charging extra for delivery - and all the risk is theirs.

Nobody - not the vendors, and certainly not the victims - is aided by the government's plan: not having the goods available when the people want them.

-- Tim Kern, Winter Haven

It's a different ballgame

Re: Price gouging.

How ironic that selling water and ice at inflated prices in Punta Gorda is criminal, yet the $3 bottle of water at Raymond James stadium is the "bargain beverage."

-- Edward Izzo, Tampa [Last modified August 21, 2004, 01:00:32]


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