I live to the west of hurricane Ike's visit to Texas. Given the path and trajectory, it appears we will be spared much of the wrath of this hurricane. Local forecasts are calling for downgraded winds with a potential of 4 to 6 inches of rain. We'll see.
While we wait, I am reminded of Katrina and Rita, and I am - again - reminded of how easy it is for people to perform stupid human tricks in the face of a natural disaster. It seems we have learned nothing from the two ladies that preceded Ike...and perhaps this is the saddest commentary of all about where we are as a country, and how we behave as a people in moments of crisis.
As I live on one of the most popular evacuation routes for east Texans, Highway 290, I have the opportunity to see just how badly people can behave when they are directly affected by an impending disaster. I have witnessed death-defying road rage, pure idiotic levels of unwarranted panic, and a complete lack of fellowship between evacuees and their generous hosts. With hands extended (palm side up) there is a level of rudeness, a lack of courtesy and respect, and an outright disdain for shopkeepers, gas station operators, local business owners, and restaurateurs that seems to run amok at times like these. Hurricane Ike is no different. The sense of entitlement on the part of some folks these past several days amazes even me...one of the most jaded and cynical people I know...but there it is.
More below the fold...
And yet, with all that, these folks, at least, had the good sense God gave them to get the hell outta Dodge. For those that were stupid enough to stay behind? I say "too freakin' bad" to any whining about how poorly they were cared for or how much they want the Government to clean up their own messes when the storm wanes and the rescue and clean up begins. A Surfside Beach Police Chief agrees:
In Surfside Beach, a town of 800, the police chief asked one stubborn couple, David and Dondi Fields, to write their names and Social Security numbers on their forearms with a black marker in case something bad happened to them. Dondi Fields, 50, wrote "I heart U" and "for my kids" on her arm.
These Darwin award runners-up ultimately did get out, but only after the Police dispatched an aluminum boat to reach their sorry butts, and a National Guard truck was deployed to carry them to safety. I cant help but ask if this is a good use of the few precious resources we have on the ground, or just more hand holding and coddling of people who should know better...but then the same case could be made for those that chose to stay behind in New Orleans. Of course I risk being called cold-hearted and insensitive, but I think the question is a fair one.
A simple Google of 'refuse to evacuate' will give far too many link matches (over 1600 as of the time I wrote this piece) given what we were all supposed to have learned after the Katrina and Rita disasters. Here in Texas, Gov. Perry and his team have been ON this hurricane evacuation and emergency preparedness stuff since Gustav...yet people seem to be oblivious to the dangers inherent in "hunkering down" in anticipation of this latest storm. It boggles the mind. How HARD is the the Government supposed to work to compensate for our freedom to choose to be ignorant?
While I am sympathetic to the faith in God William Steally might have:
About a million people in low-lying coastal areas were ordered to get out well ahead of the storm. But authorities in three counties alone said roughly 90,000 of them refused, despite a warning from forecasters that those staying behind in Galveston faced "certain death."
"I believe in the man up there, God," said William Steally, a 75-year-old retiree who planned to ride out the storm in Galveston without his wife or sister-in-law. "I believe he will take care of me."
I can't help but remember my own religious upbringing..and the lesson I was taught about God helping those that help themselves. I don't think William Steally attended that same bible class. And there are many more stories such as his. FAR too many.
Hurricane Ike reminds us that there are still people out there that can not be saved from themselves, and that no matter how hard we might try, we will not be able to get through to them. If nothing else, Ike reminds us that Katrina and Rita were NOT George Bush's fault...NOR were they the fault of the Local, State, or Federal Government. We are each, after all, responsible for ourselves in the end. Hurricane Ike and hurricanes yet to come are no different. The question remains; will we ever stop seeing people die because they expect someone else to make sure they don't?