Darwin vs. Gustav: It's a Real Nail-Biter

Three years ago, before Katrina hit the Gulf states, the local government called for a mandatory evacuation. They begged people to flee. And many did go. Yet there were also many who stayed. There was a horrible storm. The levees failed and the region flooded. And then, when the local, regional and national government proved to have their collective heads up their collective asses, the folks who had chosen to stay in their homes seemed mystified that they hadn't yet been saved.

I grew up in South Florida so I know how this shit works. You cannot be on or near the coast when big hurricanes comes. Well, you can, but you risk drowning or getting hit on the head with something big. Like the roof of your house. Maybe I'm just a genius, but this seems very obvious to me. If you live in New Orleans then you live BELOW sea level. A large storm (that has already killed more than eighty human beings) is approaching and it could be pushing along a wall of water that is 15-20 feet ABOVE sea level. It has the added benefit of bringing a shit load of rain with it. And there you sit, below the level of the sea. Do you see where I am going with this?? The water - it will be above where your head is. That could make it difficult to breathe. And there is definitely going to be a big mess.

I was curious about how the news of Hurricane Gustav was being received in New Orleans so I went to a local news site there called NOLA.com. I read an editorial piece written by someone who had stayed in her home for Katrina and intended to do the same for this storm. She was giving advice to others, should they choose to stay also. The piece was lucid and well-written so I've assumed that the author is intelligent. She seems to have a genuine (and understandable) dislike for looters so maybe that's her purpose in staying - to protect her home and things.

But at what cost? It's not only your own life that you risk, you know. It's also the lives of emergency personnel. If something bad happens while it's still storming (which, by the way, happens every single time there is a major hurricane striking land), you're likely to call for 911 help. This puts rescuers in a quandary. Must they risk their own life to save you? It's not an easily answered question, particularly when they realize (as I'm sure they will) that you could have simply saved yourself had you left town when asked.

It also risks the lives of the post-storm rescuers (National Guardsmen, Marines and other volunteers) who must endure the local conditions while performing herculean efforts to get you off of your roofs, out of your cars or wherever you might have marooned yourselves. Oh, and by the way, all of these services are only free to YOU. The cost of them gets put on the tax payers tab. You see, all of the money that makes these services available actually comes from somewhere. And if our government is spending billions of dollars dicking around in dingies in the Big Easy, looking to help people who have, in essence, stranded themselves through their reluctance to leave their homes, well, then that means they are not spending those billions of dollars on education. Or health care reform. Or fixing that big pot hole that can crack an egg in your bag of groceries in the trunk.

So if you guys want to stay, go for it. It is, after all, a free country. I'll just try not to feel sorry for you when CNN shows images of you sick, wet and exhausted, waiting on your flooded roof tops for the National Guard to pluck you up to safety. And I'll also try to not think unfavorably of you when I get my tax bill next April.

Good luck and, truly, best wishes on successfully surviving the storm.

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Meg said…
Damn. I always feel busted by that HB widget, like I can't just read the post and sneak away without commenting. So I'm commenting.
Chat Blanc said…
I say, vacate now to save yourself and go back afterward to shoot the looters!
muskrat said…
did you and the nemesing one get together and plan your posts?
i wrote a hateful comment on his, so i won't again on yours. basically, i agree. there, i can be nice.
Bex said…
Meg - Busted, eh? Well, let me tell you, that often times I read other blogs but don't have the time to comment. So please, feel free to read and run. I do not take offense.

Chat Blanc - Yep. Looters suck the big one.

Muskrat - Wow. I just went over there and watched the video. That poor kid. Suddenly I feel MUCH better about my chances at Mother Of The Year. And, BTW, I didn't think your comment was hateful at all. Truthful, maybe. But certainly not hateful. Why do some people have SUCH a hard time removing their heads from their asses?!
kc said…
I'm giving you a hallelujah and TWO amens. And can I add - whether you choose to go or stay, if your sh!t gets wiped out & you are fortunate enough to get FEMA money to help you out, don't expect ME to feel sorry for you when you have nowhere to live because you spent that money on gold grillz and LV purses.
HappyHourSue said…
Wow, you know what? i never even thought about that - (I mean I always thought those "I'm stayin' PUT" people are dumb-asses) but you're so right about the rescue workers, police , EMT's etc.

Great post.
honjii said…
You make some very good points about the risks to rescue workers and the costs to taxpayers for what might be seen as poor judgement.

Here in southern Arizona our rivers and streams are generally without water. However, during the summer monsoons they fill up quickly with fast moving water. Barricades are put up where the roads cross these rivers with the warning "DO NOT ENTER WHEN FLOODED" but there are always a few morons who believe this doesn't apply to them.

Due to the cost (to the taxpayers) of rescuing all these idiots from the tops of their cars we now have a law. It is actually called the "Stupid Motorist Law" that basically says, if you have to be rescued because of your own stupidity the state will send you the bill and you ARE expected to pay.
Chris Wood said…
So ... staying in during a hurricane is a bad idea? Check.

It's a good thing you're here to point these things out.
Bex said…
KC - I hate it when I hear stories about people who squander "found" money. Like those who win the lottery. They are actually more likely to claim bankruptcy at some point than you or I (so I've read). This is why I NEED to win the lottery. I'll break the mold and become a penny-pinching miser. Or I'll go on a three week bender on a rented yacht. But I should really win the lottery.

Thanks, Sue!

Honjii - That's awesome! And appropriate....

Chris - Well, I don't like to brag, but I'm pretty good at just KNOWING things. I also make good meatloaf. Yep, I'm the FULL package.
Jormengrund said…
You know, it's refreshing to see that at least in some places "common" sense actually is just that!

Of course, when you add the rest of the planet, it tends to become quite uncommon, and really quite rare..

The thing that amazes me the most about hurricanes anymore is the news service.. I mean, since Katrina, they've been hyping up each and every hurricane to hit that area..

Please!! There have been hurricanes hitting Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi (and Florida) before Katrina, and they'll be hitting those areas well afterwards.. I mean, it happens just about as much as it rains in the Northwest..

So why do they now insist on sending reporters into those storms?

First, they get a report that there's a hurricane on the way. Next, they get an update saying that it's going to be "big". The governor then starts evacuating folks, and while smart ones are leaving, the reporters are loading up their cameras, equipment, and support folks, and going [i]INTO[/i] the evacuation zone..

Now, granted, this is supposed to be news. But how stupid can you be?

Generally, if folks are moving away from a dangerous situation, do you really think it's going to be more interesting to watch your ass get handed to you when you run into that situation?

Me, I'd personally laugh as I donated a couple of pennies for their headstone......

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