About a month ago, the electricity suddenly went out in our Miami-based office and stayed off.
Some calls to clients and media outlets in South Florida and the Florida Keys revealed the problem was widespread throughout the state.
We quickly learned that much of the southern half of Florida was experiencing a massive blackout, due to a problem at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point power plant.
Fortunately, for residents and visitors in the Keys, most electricity in the island chain was restored within 30 minutes.
Despite our own power issues, I wanted to make sure that media points knew the Keys had electricity because South Florida’s power problems had quickly become a national story. So we started pushing out news releases with the aid of a battery-powered laptop computer and my Blackberry, which also functions as an Internet modem for the laptop.
I also began calling media outlets to reinforce the release verbally. When I called the CNN Miami Bureau, the producer there suddenly said, “Andy, we want you to go on live via phone.”
So as I was finishing up the interview with CNN anchors Don Lemon and Betty Nguyen, Don asked me if the power outage caused any serious problem in the Keys. I said that I was not aware of anything major, but the most important thing was that the margarita machines were once again in full operation. That evoked a chuckle from the anchors.
I completed my conversation with CNN and then my cell phone rang. It was a national Associated Press picture editor in New York, wondering if I had any available photos from the Keys showing the power outage. I explained power had quickly returned to the Keys, but we didn’t have anything that showed “lights out.” But then I remembered my margarita comment to CNN.
“Mike,” I said, “I’ll have a photo to you in less then 90 minutes to tell the story in the Keys.”
I called Rob O’Neal, our ace photo stringer in Key West.
“Rob, I need a picture that shows people at a bar in Key West, with someone making a colorful margarita,” I said. “And I’d love to have boats and/or water in the background and, by the way, I need it now!”
An hour later Rob sent the photo to me and after some toning and captioning, the image that moved around the nation of Schooner Wharf Bar owner Evalena Worthington pouring a red frozen margarita was the only still national media photo that showed a scene of electrical restoration in Florida.