Well, we're here. Here being Alico Arena, home of Florida Gulf Coast University athletics and your Naples and Bonita Daily News staffs for the next few days.
Starting at 4 p.m. we loaded four SUVs (two rented, two owned by co-workers) and two cars with all of our food, water and computer gear to head to the arena. My boss bought a final installment of food, water and other supplies so, along with all our work gear and the supplies we'd already bought, we pretty much filled up the SUV. And our mini-fridge took up the entire hatchback part of one of the cars; the fridge was necessary because the one here has a weird funk to it.
We caravanned to the arena and, thanks to the incredibly nice and helpful Ruth Rodrigues (FGCU's director of auxiliary services), unloaded everything into a big conference room and a couple smaller offices for our video and audio productions. It took a number of trips, but thanks to an athletic-department dolly and an elevator, we unloaded with few problems.
After a preliminary setup where we made room for work spaces by moving our supplies to where they needed to be rather than just in a big pile in the middle of the room, I got down to the real business of the evening — setting up an iTunes playlist my boss would approve.
His approval wasn't necessary for language (I like to think I'm smart enough to keep the vulgar stuff off the list), but was required for the songs. I have fairly eclectic taste when it comes to music, while he sticks to more popular (but still usually high quality) artists. I think a playlist with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Clash, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and similar groups should be fine.
(Yes, reporting on Wilma is the main reason we're all here, but our workaholic online managing editor Tim Richardson has a lock-down on that, posting updates every half hour or so and nearly threatening to quit when told he couldn't not evacuate, preferring to remain in the office — which is just 10 blocks from the beach and two blocks from a bay — to cover the storm.)
We also helped move in some of the print staff's equipment, as it appears they'll be sending their pages to our Treasure Coast paper for printing. It makes the room slightly more crowded, but it will be nice to have some other people around as I have a feeling that a more communal setting will be nice during something like this.
That setting could turn into a few days, as the potential storm surge could put our offices under enough water to keep us from returning until Wednesday. We have enough supplies to last us and we all get along well enough that there's little risk of cabin fever (I hope).
Fortunately, we seem to be set for covering the hurricane for the foreseeable future as our Internet connection here is incredibly fast. Barring a power outage (*knock on wood*), we should be able to get updates to our readers even quicker than normal. We're here for the long haul, and we're looking forward to covering this hurricane for you.