Enjoy the holiday but be careful out there

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Can't blame folks for wanting to get away, or kicking back, this Labor Day weekend. It's not been the best of times for employees and workers across South Florida. Let's do a survey of the landscape.

Across our region and state, unemployment is up. So are home foreclosures, bankruptcies and the cost of living. Our housing markets rank among the worst, and there's no real light at the end of the tunnel.

Considering all this, there is a palpable cloud of anxiety and uncertainty. So, given a chance to blow off steam for a well-earned three-day weekend, you can't help but understand why people would want to turn off the world.

Except ... Weather forecasters have their eye on Tropical Storm Hanna, and a couple of other tropical waves rolling out of Africa. Hanna is still far out in the Atlantic Ocean, but it's worth keeping a watchful eye on.

Who knows where it will go. What we can conclude now is that 2008 is becoming as bizarre a "what now?" year as 2004. We've already had one peculiar storm this year. Tropical Storm Fay set a record for four land falls in Florida earlier this month. It didn't tear up the place, but Fay did dump enough rain to create hazardous and damaging flooding, particularly in the northeast part of the, ahem, Sunshine State.

And next week, we may have the unbelievable phenomenon of two hurricanes, Gustav and Hanna, hitting different parts of the country at the same time.

So, here's the deal. Enjoy the weekend. You've earned it, workers of the state. But don't tune out altogether because, during hurricane season, preparation can be the difference between inconvenience and misery.

BOTTOM LINE: Enjoy, but stay tuned.

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