Riding Out Wilma in Miami

South Florida residents were hit with the fury of Hurricane Wilma Monday. Many stayed indoors for hours without electricity. In one Miami neighborhood, locals finally got a break for food — and from the boredom of riding out the storm.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

People in the Miami area weren't expecting quite as much hurricane as they got yesterday. Instead of weakening, Hurricane Wilma struck both Florida costs as a Category 3 storm. But there was at least a quick recover for one Chinese restaurant. NPR's Luke Burbank sent a postcard after the storm.

LUKE BURBANK reporting:

On most nights, Canton Chinese Restaurant is one of maybe 100 unremarkable eateries that dot the strip malls in Miami's Westchester neighborhood, but last night, it had something special going for it. It was open.

Ms. FUNG WONG (Canton Chinese Restaurant): Thank you, sir. Coming up, everybody. May I have your order next.

BURBANK: By a stroke of good luck or good planning, Fung Wong still had the use of her restaurant's gas stove. So she opened her doors, and due to nearly a complete lack of competition, Canton instantly became a hot spot. People like Howard Weise(ph) were lining up outside mostly because other people were lining up.

Mr. HOWARD WEISE: Well, we came to check and see what was open in the neighborhood and we saw a line here, so we stopped.

BURBANK: It was the type of line you might have expected to see after a week without power and fresh supplies, but not even a full day had passed here and locals had had plenty of warning about Wilma. For Weise and others, though, there was an ulterior motive.

Mr. WEISE: Just to get out of the house. We had cabin fever. Been in the house since late yesterday afternoon and we finally got out.

BURBANK: This seemed to sum up the mood of many in the area: tired, inconvenient but also bored and unquestionably the boredest were the children many people had brought to Canton.

Unidentified Child: You stop.

Unidentified Woman: You stop.

BURBANK: Along with those just looking to distract the kids, there were people like Amy and Marcos Lopez(ph). They didn't stock on food as Wilma approached.

Mrs. AMY LOPEZ: We weren't really very prepared for it at all.

BURBANK: Did you think that it was going to be this strong when it got here?

Mr. MARCOS LOPEZ: Honestly, to tell you the truth, no, not really.

BURBANK: Fortunately for people like the Lopezs, Fung Wong's door was open. The process was a little inefficient. She had to squint and use a flashlight to read her calculator and then walked each order back to the kitchen. It was even darker in there with only the stove's blue flame for light.

Ms. WONG: (Chinese spoken)

Unidentified Man: (Chinese spoken)

BURBANK: Each order took a while.

Ms. WONG: Eddie. Eddie, sir. Sorry, sir.

BURBANK: But the customers were patient. By this time, the skies had actually cleared some and Howard Weise was in no rush to head home.

Mr. WEISE: We're in no hurry. I mean, I get to go back to a dark house with a flashlight, so, you know, I'll wait a few minutes. It turned out to be a beautiful day.

BURBANK: When he does get home, there'll be plenty of work to do. He says his house looks beat up from the storm, but considering what some others have faced this hurricane season, he and many of his neighbors are just happy it wasn't worse.

Luke Burbank, NPR News, Miami.

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