Monday, June 6, 2011
Fun Hurricane Facts
Hurricanes are no fun, but it is that time of year again. I want to make sure people really understand what the Big Wind is all about and how it affects the state of Florida in rude, contemptuous, tempest ways.
Category 1 Fact: There is a strong statistically significant correlation between hurricanes, drowned surfers, and higher collective local SAT scores.
The newspeople have three basic videos they show leading up to and through the storm in ascending scales of drama. They teach this brand of video-journalism at local colleges.
One, the surfer riding storm swells…opens all sorts of creative banter between the anchorpeople.
Two, the stop sign that shakes back and forth in the gusty wind.
Three, the classic “Roof Blows off the Circle K” followed by commentary from Cletus and his merry band of barefoot looters.
Category 2 Fact: The next hurricane that hits Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, basically anywhere in the state is going to be the most destructive storm to strike Florida.
Why? Global Warming? Bad Luck? Casey Anthony?
No, because we continue to put condos and homes directly along the beaches. It’s going to cost more because we put more there. Everyone grasping this concept? For some reason, this realization escapes most talking heads.
Category 3 Fact: Evacuation is for sissies.
I say this boldly because I reside in the highest area above sea level in this state, which, comparatively speaking, is still about as high above the ocean as a pool-side diving board you’d feel semi-sober comfortable with letting your 4 year old jump off of.
Plus, it’s been demonstrated time and again that the federal government is well-equipped to lend a hand if your house is transformed into flotsam.
In a very small way, I do feel bad for weatherpeople and government officials who repeatedly, year after year, plead to the point of obnoxiousness with the mob to evacuate in the event of a dangerous storm. Year after year, there are fights with evacuation officials.
Let’s pretend that every afternoon for five months one of these entities warns the public on the dangers of smoking. Continuous inundation of graphs, models, spaghetti tracks, videos of devastation, and PSA’s – somehow all of this would inevitably seep into the subconscious, and we’d give up cigarettes before September. I’m convinced.
Hurricanes? Nope! After given all these data to process, as the abject terror of Hurricane Woman Name approaches, the common rube thing to do is ignore this unrelenting media and governmental blitzkrieg.
I’d feel like such a failure if I were a weatherman or bureaucrat.
Category 4 Fact: You are not prepared.
Hurricane-preparedness is a cottage industry down here. It’s like shopping for newborn baby stuff. Once the season begins, Panic develops a market. They toss any conceivable item they think they can get you to buy – from generators to deep freezers to run on the generators – on a “survival guide” and taunt you until you buy it all. Flashlight and candle sales must peak this time of year. (As I’m sure contraceptives do.) It’s not uncommon for some folks to rummage through hurricane kits of years past and re-kindle lost memories, as in, “I remember buying this at Junk Depot before the store blew away in 2004.”
In all seriousness, fill up your vehicle with gas ASAP. One, the lines at the pumps become non-negotiable once a storm approaches within 300 miles of shore. Two, whether the hurricane hits or not, gas prices will shoot through the roof because offshore drills, refineries, and commodity experts will be overwhelmed by demand and the potential for disaster.
Category 5 Fact: If you have major plans – family vacations, weddings, hunting trips – scheduled during hurricane season, a storm will invariably strike.
When this happens you have three real options. All three of them have numerous undesired consequences.
1. Flee the scene and go ahead with your trip. But then again, you could return home and find all you have left – either because the rest all floated/blew away or became property of happy-to-help strangers pillaging your wreckage – is what’s in your suitcase. Or you could get stuck wherever you are, leaving you to curse your nephew for getting married in Ypsilanti.
2. Cancel your plans and retreat to a shelter. You run into a few of the same issues as above – looting, left with luggage amidst strangers of varying and rapidly declining hygiene levels. Plus, as described above, you’ll be tarnished a coward for life.
3. Cancel your plans and ride it out. Now, if you live in coastal areas and the terms “flotsam” and “wreckage” and “federal government” don’t scare the bejeezus out of you, sand bag your doors and windows and stow away your life’s memories and trinkets and make sure you get things right with the Big Guy. It’s going to be a long ride.
Or come visit me. I should have plenty of beer in my generator-powered deep freezer, though just in case it runs out of gas or an oak falls on it, I find it important to keep a bottle of non-perishable brown water somewhere close at hand.
It helps to be prepared.