Waiting for Floyd

New Times reporters hit the road to bring you all the prehurricane weirdness fit to print

Duane would take an entirely different approach. There was no way he would hang around while a category 4 storm and tidal surge cruised upstream. "I have a great fear: If the hurricane hits, the cable TV will go out! Ya ha ha!" Duane exclaimed, in a voice kind of like Louis Armstrong's, if Armstrong had grown up in Maine. An instant later he was dead serious. "I'm going to put my kids in the car and go to grandma's house. End of fucking interview," he growled. "I'm not going to let these fine little guys get hurt. That's the bottom line."

After Duane returned from Southeast Asia in 1969, he went to college, then built boats with his dad in Ecuador. At age 52, the goodhearted wisecracker still knows all the lyrics of "Alice's Restaurant," though his guitar is missing a few strings. "Duane plays folk music," he growled again, referring to himself. "If you bring me some strings for my guitar, I can play you some of the coolest John McLaughlin songs you've ever heard. And John Sebastian!"

Janice, a Kansas native, met Duane in Miami during the Seventies after she had fled Midwestern winters. These days she waits tables at Grunberg's Deli in downtown Miami and on weekends greets cruise passengers at Miami International Airport. The couple has lived on the boat for the past eleven years. After Hurricane Andrew they relocated to a slip on the Little River in Belle Meade. Soon, though, they moved back to the river so that Ayla and her ten-year-old brother, Jack, could attend a better school.

Tom Carlson

Suddenly Duane leaped, like a flying squirrel, from the houseboat deck onto the patio area. He made a loud, clunky, one-point landing but turned it into a wobbly recovery at the last instant. It was good timing, though, because Janice was preparing her final poem of the night. It was something about the hurricane. A light breeze rippled over the river and through the trees.

"Hurricane my ass," she said, "where is the bonnie lass?" -- Kirk Nielsen

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