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Progress Energy seems ill-prepared for large-scale storms

Thank goodness we are safe, and mostly sound after the latest sojourn into the realm of hurricanes. Others in our state are in terrible shape comparatively. Our group of local forecasters always do the best they can with what they have, and without them, we would all be in the dark regardless. Their efforts are second to none.

There is one huge, glaring inefficiency that has has become very visible throughout this entire fiasco. Progress Energy has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is ill-prepared to deal with problems of these proportions.

The layoffs and cutbacks orchestrated by Progress Energy after the buyout of Florida Power in Pinellas are now showing the community just what can happen when individual counties are not in charge or, at least very interactive with, all of the issues regarding manpower and equipment necessary to maintain and operate our utilities in disasters. I am sure that many former employees of Florida Power here in Pinellas are grumbling over their collective coffee cups.

This issue is strictly about manpower. We don't have enough of if here. We need more qualified and dedicted people in the local community, on the local payrolls, dedicated strictly to the needs of this county. Progress Energy's calculated effort to increase profits has left the citizens of Pinellas County in a very hazardous situation, regardless of the public relations rhetoric of the last few weeks.

They know it, and some of our less fortunate citizens are personally experiencing what can happen even now.

John Greenwell, Largo

What if a big storm hits?

Our neighborhood survived the recent Category 1 hurricane without losing power. However, with the sun shining brightly, a transformer popped and five streets in our 55-plus mobile home park lost power. One day later we are informed that the power will be off for at least a week because the power company lacks a replacement transformer!

Progress Energy, what kind of service can we expect if a Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane comes through? We pay one of the highest electrical rates in the country and we deserve better.

Carl J. Babnik, Dunedin

Puzzling over evacuation orders

As a relative newcomer to Pinellas County, I have been overwhelmed by a never-expected onslaught of storms this hurricane season. With each of the past four threatening our area, I have secured my mobile home as best I could and dutifully heeded all mandatory evacuation notices, packing the back seat and trunk of my car with as much clothing and as many valuables as possible. Each time I've left behind neighbors who have remained in their homes, telling me they believe I'm being overly cautious.

With my house now having sustained no damage from both tropical storm and Category 1 hurricane strength winds _ even the flagpole extending well above the roof is still standing _ I can't help but wonder: Are they right? Is my mobile home considerably stronger than I think? Or are county officials overreacting and leading us to believe we're in far greater danger than we actually are, and calling for evacuations that really aren't necessary?

I'm at a loss as to how I should react if we are threatened yet a fifth time. Am I running in vain? I wish I knew. The only thing of which I'm absolutely certain is that I don't want to experience another season like this one.

Thomas C. Rizzo Jr., Largo

Overpopulation is the key problem

Through continuous study for years, scientists have concluded that global warming would eventually change the climate of the earth. In the recent National Geographic (September, 2004), these studies are summarized. One result of global warming is an increase in the strength and number of hurricanes.

The consumption of fossil fuel for energy is the chief cause of global warming. If you follow the trail of cause and effect, you wind up with the initial demand of energy from people _ and the more people there are, the more demand. Clean air, control of auto emissions and clean water are desirable and necessary for a healthy life. But we are treating only the symptoms of the disease of worldwide overpopulation.

We must not leave out that important part of the equation. If one car creates X amount of pollution, the total amount of pollution comes about because X must be multiplied by the number of cars, which is determined by the number of people owning cars.

The problems of hunger, water shortage, crowded schools, etc., are multiplied by the number of people on this earth. One of the biggest causes of climate change, and maybe more hurricanes, is overpopulation.

Charles Sollinger, Safety Harbor

Helping himself

Re: Front-page photograph, Sept. 28.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the picture of the 4-year-old looter on the front page! They get younger all the time!

Anita Johnson, Trinity

A dangerous situation

Re: Photograph, Sept. 28.

Is it just me? Why is little 4-year-old Kevin Seidel out in the street pulling a wagon with all those power poles leaning the way they are? It looks dangerous to me. Where were his parents? Scary picture!

Brinda Hoffmeister, St. Petersburg

Seeing schools as babysitters

Re: Shut schools jolt schedules again today, Sept. 28.

I am disgusted that 800 people would send angry e-mails to Pinellas schools superintendent, Howard Hinesley the day after Jeanne did some serious damage and left millions of people throughout the state without electric power.

To these 800 people, as well as the countless others who sent e-mails or made phone calls to somebody else, school is nothing more than free babysitting. It is no wonder that teachers have difficulties educating some students. What can you expect when they come from families that have this attitude toward schools?

John F. Marretta, Port Richey

Stop building on beaches

I have always been of the opinion that building on beaches and barrier islands along the Florida coast should never have been allowed.

After the latest round of hurricane devastation, maybe the government will come to its senses and no longer allow any structures to be built on these places again, and also stop wasting taxpayer money on beach renourishment year after year.

Peg Spetz, Yankeetown

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