by Joe Siegel
Florida’s LGBT publications were all impacted by Hurricane Irma to varying degrees.
Key West was the one of the hardest hit areas of the state. Q Magazine publisher Neil Chamberlain evacuated during the storm, but said the October issue will be published. Chamberlain does all the work for Q solo.
“I did not take my design computer, kind of a defiance to Irma, my way of saying, ‘I will be back,’” Chamberlain said. “I did. however. take two laptops and my backup drive with all of my files.”
Currently the situation is looking very grim due to widespread power outages on the island, according to Chamberlain.
“I’m planning on heading back,” he said last week, “but I know I’m going into no internet access, no power, limited water, and it’s not even safe to drink. Once I’m back, I’ll fire up the generator, set up my hot spot and it’s straight to work.”
Q Magazine is not the only business which has been hurt by the hurricane. The magazine’s advertisers have also taken a beating.
“My clients are all suffering,” Chamberlain noted. “Every local business has suffered financially. I will be reaching out to them all and offering all the local advertisers a deep discount on the next issue.”
Chamberlain believes Key West, as well as Q Magazine, will make a comeback.
“Key West is a small community and we all help each other out whenever possible,” Chamberlain said. “Key West will be back better than ever, and Q Magazine will continue to be the only LGBT magazine for Key West.”
Orlando’s Watermark temporarily lost power but was soon up and running, according to publisher Rick Claggett.
“We were so far [from the eye of the hurricane] that I would say we were pretty much unaffected,” Claggett said.
Fort Lauderdale is home to Hot Spots Magazine, and the publication’s offices were without power for four days. However, the publishing schedule was not affected.
“It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as originally expected, so we have to be thankful for that,” said associate publisher Scott Holland.
South Florida Gay News, based in Wilton Manors, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, was without power for a week.
Associate publisher Jason Parsley was in California during the hurricane, but said other staffers did evacuate the state.
Parsley said the loss of power resulted in many local businesses having to throw out food which had spoiled from lack of refrigeration. “The local food bank which services the HIV community lost a lot of their food,” Parsley noted.
South Florida Gay News prepared for Hurricane Irma by publishing a special “storm edition” prior to the hurricane’s arrival. The most recent issue was delayed two days. The staff did all their work from remote locations to get the issue completed, Parsley added.
Rafa Carvajal, publisher of Miami’s Wire Magazine, posted a message to readers on the publication’s web site. The staff evacuated to various locations.
“I must confess that I feared for my life when I evacuated from my apartment on Brickell Avenue, expecting that a category 4 hurricane would cause massive destruction from winds and storm surge,” Carvajal wrote. “I packaged what I could in my SUV and headed north to Stuart, Florida, with my friend Kim. We rode out the storm in a very safe home near the ocean with her family and experienced hurricane winds that reached 85 miles per hour. As one of millions of Floridians who had to make last minute decisions in search of safety, I look back at this traumatic experience and I am thankful that everyone I know is ok. Evacuating my apartment made me realize that sometimes we take things for granted and forget how fortunate we truly are.”
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