Like so many other people in Florida, Indian Lake native Tim Reynolds spent last weekend glued to the weather forecast, then dealt with power outages and other issues brought on by Hurricane Irma.
But unlike most others, Reynolds is an Associated Press sports writer and his wife, Linda Trischitta, is a news reporter with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, and both were on hurricane duty.
“My wife and I worked throughout the storm, in our living room, lighted only by battery powered lanterns since the shutters made it dark in here even in daylight,” wrote Reynolds, who filed stories on college football games being postponed and the preparations at the Miami Zoo, which included herding flamingos into a men’s room. That story, which got prominent play nationally, also included news about thoroughbred horses being moved north from Gulfstream Park, and Monroe County moving animals into the county jail after the prisoners were sent north.
Monday afternoon, Reynolds, who corresponded with The Post-Star through Facebook instant messenger from his home in Miami Lakes, wrote he was firing up the grill to make dinner.
Reynolds, who worked in the sports department of The Post-Star from 1991 to 1994, was extremely active on his AP Twitter account before, during and after the storm, mixing tweets about the hurricane with updates on local colleges and professional teams.
Tuesday, he posted: “Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL and NHLPA announce $2.7 million donation to Irma relief efforts.”
Just before the storm, Trischitta was writing stories about a missing surfer and about using 911, not Twitter, during emergencies. Her first story after the storm was about a local car dealer who parked 47 unregistered cars in a garage that was supposed to be used by residents to shelter their cars.
She also wrote about an 8-year-old girl who alerted family members to a fire that destroyed their home Saturday while they were awaiting the storm.
Both Reynolds and Trischitta headed out after the storm and posted videos of the damage in their area.
Reynolds and his wife live in a town northeast of downtown Miami, and Monday afternoon he wrote candidly about being lucky to avoid serious impact from the storm.
“Here in Miami Lakes, we dodged a bullet. Trees are down but not on our house or cars. Power came back in 17 hours. AC is working today. Some of the shutters are already down,” he wrote. “I’m grilling dinner. We definitely dodged a bullet.”
He went on to say that there was much more serious damage within 30 miles of his home, and farther south, things were even worse.
“The Keys are going to remember this one forever,” he wrote. “And parts of downtown Miami — the banking neighborhood, probably the richest section of our city — are a mess.”
An Associated Press report Tuesday said that a quarter of the homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed and more than 15 million people in the state were without power.
“This could have been catastrophic. It’s now largely just inconvenient. I’ll take that,” Reynolds wrote. “It’s so hit or miss, this storm. People evacuated and then had to come back to beat the storm before it hit Tampa or Orlando, where they ran to, or they just got hit there. It was bizarre.”
Updates on Facebook
Earlier, on Sunday night when it became apparent Miami Lakes was not going to take an especially hard hit, Reynolds posted to his Facebook page, which he had been constantly updating throughout the storm.
“This is going to suck for a while. But our house came through it perfectly. My wife is safe. Our dogs are safe. I lived. Nothing else really matters,” he wrote. “We have water, but no power. Spotty cell service, but no internet. I’m down to about a half-tank of gas. Never before have these things seemed less relevant.”
He went on: “I don’t know when we’ll have our creature comforts back. I don’t know where AP will send me. ... But we survived without needing an insurance claim. Given what happened around us, we’ll happily take that.”