Time for some patience


Years ago, while attending a conference on husband-wife relationships, the guest speaker described women as crock pots and men as microwaves when it comes to intimacy. (You’ll get that on the way home, he said.)

Unfortunately, at this juncture in Clay County, it seems most everyone has morphed into a microwave in that we all want what we’re asking for “right now.”

If storm debris cleanup were as simple as programming a digital screen set to heat on high for 3:30 for your Stouffer’s lunch entrée, life would be a dream, aye?

But, that’s not reality. It’s more like the stuff of a TV sitcom.

Drive through any neighborhood along Black Creek and, if your spirits aren’t moved by the downright devastation, please go get counseling now. As many as 1,400 of our neighbors, brothers, sisters, retirees, teachers, endured flooding in their homes that no human had the capability to predict would come our way.

Ask anyone in county government right now what they want for Christmas, chances are it would be a new County Road 218 bridge at Black Creek.

And Black Creek was not the only waterway in Clay County to flood homes. We’ve all seen the pictures of the St. Johns River coming over its banks at Club Continental in Orange Park. But what about nearby creeks and so forth?

San Robar Drive in Orange Park is not usually a headline grabber in times of heavy rains, however, this storm flooded homes in an enclave here. A friend of mine has spent the past three weeks trying to get his family back to normal by cutting out sheetrock and everything else damaged by the floodwaters. He also lost a vintage collectible car.

And like him, every Clay County resident who cleaned up fallen tree limbs and other debris from Hurricane Irma sits and awaits the day the trucks will roll by with a crew to carry it all away.

Here’s the rub.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has yet to pay local governments’ claims they made for reimbursement of costs associated with last year’s Hurricane Matthew. So, now they are plodding along trying to pick up as much debris as they can without breaking their bank accounts.

Many are hoping that FEMA will come through with Matthew payments that they can then turn around and use to conduct Irma cleanup. Do you get an idea now of how long this is going to take?

The county has also contracted with outside debris cleanup companies in hopes of speeding up the cleanup program. And here’s an unreported aspect of that. Clay County’s August 2017 unemployment rate was 3.7 percent, which experts usually refer to as “full employment.”

Full employment is the market “condition in which virtually all who are able and willing to work are employed.”

Another friend whose dock was decimated by the storm told me that one company said it would be six months before they could even get to his house and measure his dock for a written estimate, much less do any actual repair work.

And chances are high, that the dock companies are having a tough time finding skilled labor needed to get all of their current customers’ work completed.

People rely on us here to keep the community abreast of progress with such things as debris cleanup and so forth. This became apparent after Matthew and it’s a tape that is replaying again in the aftermath of Irma.

I know no homeowner wants to see a yellow patch of grass appear on their lawn from days of tree debris sitting around waiting to be hauled off. Perhaps this is a lesson in learning how to count one’s blessings.

Think of it this way, you could be sleeping in temporary housing and wondering where your next meal is coming from, as many of our neighbors are. All of a sudden that yellow patch of grass is a ray of welcomed sunshine.


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