South Florida: Trouble in Paradise

South Florida is Hit By a Hurricaine of Crime, Drugs and Refugees

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faintly in the distance, it is difficult to dwell on South Florida's problems.

"When I take visitors around in my boat at sunset, they are just awed," says Stephen Muss, whose family owns the Fontainebleau Hilton Hotel in Miami Beach. "Where else can we ride in an open boat in winter, looking at a skyline on the horizon, cruise ships slowly turning around in the harbor, jets passing overhead, with the day ending in full color in the blue water of our bay? This is just a sensational place to live."

One image from the travel brochure that still rings true, an apt metaphor for a region blessed by God and not yet ruined by man, is the sturdy mangrove. It is found nowhere in the U.S. but Florida. With its gnarled roots stretching down into salty water that would kill most other plants, the mangrove traps silt, shelters wildlife and otherwise improves whatever it touches. Through boom and bust, hurricanes and real estate development, the mangrove has stood its ground. South Floridians surely will too. — By James Kelly. Reported by Bernard Diederich and William McWhirter/Miami

*The Florida East Coast Railway stretched some 500 miles from Jacksonville to the Keys, but the 150-mile link between Miami and Key West was Flagler's crowning achievement. Begun in 1905, it was an engineering marvel of bridges and viaducts, with 80 miles of track built over water and the longest of the bridges spanning seven miles. A Labor Day hurricane in 1935 destroyed the tracks on the Keys, but the roadbed was widened and opened as a highway in 1938.

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