Ed.: 083117a – Words: 1843 – Audio: N/A
People live and people die.
No, I’m not being insensitive or so much a cynic. Just being a bit realistic. But there are ways not so many people can die and in many cases they do it to themselves from making poor decisions at critical moments.
Ok.. by now you’re likely thinking, “I bet he’s going to pin the blame on Hurricane Harvey’s devastation onto Trump or the Congressional GOP.” Nope. Actually no politics in this post. Take a breather. Consider this mostly a public service announcement.
I’m sure like many Americans I, too, enjoy exercising my First Amendment rights in the privacy of my own home far more liberally and with far less political correctness than I would in public. Generally speaking, most of my discourse is aimed at events depicted on the TV. Of course, when there’s an audience, which is typically my GF, I will get louder and more passionate at the images on the screen. Most times my passions are tongue-in-cheek for effect (given it’s so outlandish for me and out of character), sometimes I just bitch to hear myself bitch, and sometimes I rag in a living room version of barking at the moon. I am not one who has a temper so my very random outbursts at the TV are frustrations of the moment and not to be taken seriously. Mostly my private tirades are political, some are critical toward how other people live their lives and that they would be better off listening to me, some are regarding other peoples’ social behavior, and still some tirades are my perception of other people’s level of stupidity, which of course I am sole judge since it’s my house and my tirade.
Now.. you might wonder… do I make any racial overtones? Absolutely I do.. and the person who admits to not having some level of stereotypic perceptions at home in front of the TV that might be interpreted as being racial out in the real world is a damn liar (ok.. maybe the Pope doesn’t do that). Most of it is button pushing to get my GF to wince and tell me to shut up (you’d think I was desperate for attention). This in no way suggests I act or seriously believe this way in public. But my private retorts are equal opportunity… no one is spared… regardless of race, religion, politics, gender, other people’s (lack of) parenting skills, pet owners, or watching victims of weather related catastrophes (finally.. we get to the theme of this post). Which brings us to Hurricane Harvey.
Now.. of course I find very little humor or satisfaction in watching other people as victims of these cataclysmic storms… As I said, people live and people die (and please let’s not get into some discussion of the Almighty and death). But I learned from watching all the Katrina coverage that in spite of nature’s wrath people do have a good chance in surviving, albeit it their homes and possessions are generally missing, which in itself adds to the heartbreak and personal trauma. Now… you have to agree, it’s inescapable trying to avoid mumbling under your breath (or louder) when an on-scene reporter is interviewing a newly rescued family from the second floor of their flooded home, I then pause… “Why the hell didn’t you get outta there when you had the chance, dumbass!!”. Of course I realize not all people have the means or capacity simply to head out of town for various real life issues that are quite valid. But I don’t care. J Everyone gets my wrath because truly, in this world, there are far more humans who do make dumbass survival choices.
I mean.. a hurricane is one of the most predictable weather events. It forms, it grows, and it travels in basically predictable patterns and warnings can be days in advance. Yet people still die. Of course you can’t really escape the inevitable property damage, but as a average person you have an option of packing the valuables in the van or pickup.. or rent a U-Haul.. and head out of Dodge. People knew Katrina was coming for days… yet the floods and damage killed people stuck in their cars and homes and attics. Now, Harvey… for days every weatherman was predicting that this storm’s effects would be after the wind and rain assault from hitting land. All the computer models had the storm hanging around, creating ocean surges and huge rainfall.. for days following. The all were saying that the rains would create the worst possible storm from hell situation for the entire Texas coastline.. and into Louisiana. Most of south Texas has low level bayous and swamps, adjacent creeks and rivers… it was predicted this would be a nightmare scenario. Yet… people stayed. When these storms hit land I am typically hundreds or thousands of miles away and even from MY vantage point I will believe the weather man. When it’s about hurricanes the weather forecasting is pretty good. Yet people stay… and the many reasons are nuts.
The good one is blaming the mayor of Houston. A number of rescued people were saying, “The city never issued an evacuation order.” (again screaming at the TV, “The damn weather service tells you the storm from hell is coming your way and you sat around waiting for a goddamn evac order from the city??? WTF!”)
Another one… “The water rose so quickly we didn’t have time.” (to the TV, “You had at least three days you dumb shit!”
Then with each hurricane there’s always one old codger… “My home has been in the family for ten generations and no damn storm is going to chase me off of it and no one is gonna make me leave!” Then he sits out front of his home in a lawn chair with his rifle in order to exercise his Second Amendment rights against a Category 4 hurricane.
All of this gains far more importance when there’s kids and the elderly involved… and some head-of-household family member is not making the proper family decisions.
The other thing that perturbs me is how many people are actually expecting their local and federal government to arrive on the scene with FEMA trailers and Red Cross supplied clothing and food, inside of one hour. They expect a far faster response if the family is stuck on the roof looking skyward for that Coast Guard chopper to rescue them. During Katrina one reporter was interviewing a white lady from somewhere along the Gulf Coast… and she was complaining about the FEMA delay because “I just want my trailer.” as if there was some expected entitlement, or something. I just get so angry when people actually depend on the government so much in their lives that they lose common sense in trying to survive the tough calamities.
When My TV Rants Are Over And I Resume Reality…
I do seriously have compassion for any humans suffering like this.. and mostly to the idea that they will likely have lost their home and all their worldly possessions. This is a huge life disruption.. but it’s NOT the end of the world, especially if your loved ones are around you..
For a few years now I’ve endeavored into the subject of survivalist/survivalism. I actually have another blog that’s got a few posts but I’ve not pursued it further. I have begun a book a year ago.. or more a “guide”.. not about bunker-building, gun-toting surviving an apocalypse but about the concept of preparation and “survivability” following the any number of very real and everyday catastrophes that might befall us. It’s not about stockpiling freeze dried food to last years or building a post-apocalyptic assault vehicle out of the old Toyota out back. It’s about using common sense to help you survive, not a zombie apocalypse, but the more “average” calamities that WILL result from nature and social and political upheavals.
Some of you might recall my previous posts where I harangued about the extraordinary lack of attention to mental health in this country. My second “cause” is trying to get folks to understand that our population growth has, and is continuing, to affect each and every one of us in ways we aren’t even looking at (including mental health). Every natural disaster you can think of… from a tornado to a hurricane, to a wayward asteroid smacking into the Earth somewhere; tsunamis, earthquakes… will have the effects to humans amplified simply because our population has grown so large as to have a wider footprint on the surface of the planet that can’t be avoided by such catastrophes. Katrina was so devastating because more people were living in the area. Right now, Hurricane Harvey is making not only a mess from the high winds along the Texas Gulf Coast, but it has been, and is continuing, to spill record amounts of rainfall, already surpassing the national record for rainfall… and it’s still going on. As of this writing the efforts down there are search & rescue of people who have chosen to stay in the area for various reasons. But make no mistake…. the cost of this disaster will likely dwarf Katrina and it WILL affect the rest of the country in some form (as of right now, 10 oil refineries are out of commission and will affect gas prices nationally).
I guess my whole point here is when I see the video of the flooded neighborhoods and people stuck I can’t help but think that with some minimal preparation.. even in just the few days leading up to Harvey hitting landfall, the average person could have prepared for their own survivability. But here’s the unknown. As people are being rescued from their flooded homes everyone seems relieved, albeit knowing full well they will have to re-build their lives. What hasn’t been determined yet… is where do all these people in the various emergency shelters go once the waters recede.
Many areas hit hard by the Cat 4 winds will likely need the entire power grid re-built. Areas that were just flooded will likely not have that critical problem once the waters recede. Tap water everywhere will be a mess for a long time… and like Katrina, the bacteria remaining in homes and neighborhoods will just be breeding grounds for health problems. No one will be returning home to live, or re-build, any time soon. In other words, the average public has NOT learned any sort of lessons from Katrina. Yes, government might have learned some lessons on logistics… but it’s the human part of this disaster that will be felt for a long time… and economically on a national scale.
Check out Part 2