Sunday, September 14, 2008


We've been hearing on News for the Eucalypt Dwellers about Hurricane Ike and the mandatory evacuation of parts of Texas. No doubt we are not hearing as much about it as our American blogging friends - I'm sure we get the most dramatic pictures - which are pretty horrific - and the headline stories - likewise. It looks to me like half the state of Texas has been blasted away.

I think that had I been asked to evacuate, I would have done so instantly. I'm chicken. I also have kids. A house is a house, a eucalypt is a eucalypt, but it's nothing compared to their lives. I see that most of the people asked to evacuate did so. But some didn't. They chose to stay, despite multiple warnings that fatalities and injuries would result. The post-hurricane photos seem to make it pretty clear that the warnings were not exaggerated. Now rescuers are going in to try and rescue some of the people who chose not to evacuate.

Does that seem right? Yes, in that people are in pain and difficult situations, and they need rescue. There is no reason why their needs should be neglected. Some may have had good reason for staying - for example, perhaps illness meant that some people couldn't leave and family chose to stay with them etc.. But some of these people at least chose not to leave a danger zone. They're on the news here - declaring confidently pre-hurricane 'well a hurricane hasn't carried me away yet, so why should this one'.

So now, there's a little streak in me that is muttering 'well, I hope they rescued all the people that didn't deliberately choose not to evacuate first; the people that either had no choice or weren't expecting the hurricane to veer their way'; I hope no rescuer is putting their life in danger for somebody who made a deliberate decision to stay without good reason'. Is that wrong? Am I bitter, twisted and hateful?!


ChrisEldin said...

I agree. We have a brother-in-law in Texas (Houston) and he stayed, even though he and his family could've flown here. He wasn't in the evacuation zone though.
Now the power is out and could be for days...
He annoys the shit out of me because of things like that, but it's his life...

blogless troll said...

What a lot of people don't realize is that small changes in a hurricane's intensity cause huge increases in the amount of damage in creates. With 90 to 100 mph sustained winds you'll get widespread wind damage, but it won't be too bad on average--it really depends on how fast the storm moves through. If it hangs around for eight or ten hours versus two or three, then obviously it'll be worse.

But here's the thing. At 110mph, which is what Ike was I think, you're thinking oh it's only another 10 mph. That's only a 10% increase. But it actually causes about ten times more damage than 100mph sustained winds would. (I don't know why. I think it's quantum.) And 120 causes about 10 times more damage than 110, etc.

So for Ike, at 110, if I lived on the Texas coast then hell yes I'd evacuate because you're also dealing with storm surge. If I lived in Houston, which is about 50 miles from the coast, probably not. But if I lived in Houston and that thing was coming in at 120 or more, I'd be in friggin New Mexico.

So to answer your question, no, you're not bitter, twisted, and hateful, because being amateurs, those idiots probably should've evacuated. BUT it was one of those storms that could've gone either way.

Sarah Laurenson said...

We have the same issue with fires here in CA and people who think if they stay at their homes the firefighters have to come and keep their house safe. Idiots.

You could think of it as cleaning up the gene pool, except it's the rescuers putting their lives on the line.

I don't think the rescuers in Texas are in much danger since the storm moved through fairly quickly.

laughingwolf said...

neither bitter nor hateful, i agree fully with your assessment of the situ...

like in new orleans, folk were told if they chose to stay, help may not get to them for days, or weeks, depending how badly hanna would damage the area :(

McKoala said...

Yes, I guess if you're not in the evacuation zone, but in an at-risk zone then the decision is harder. I'd scoot, though. And I'm not sure if you can then complain too much about your power etc, because that was the risk you left yourself open for.

I'm impressed by your hurricane knowledge, BT. I guess you need to know about these risks...or, are you a closet hurricane/tornado chaser?

Sarah You could think of it as cleaning up the gene pool... My keyboard, my keyboard!

LW, thank you. Sounds like fair warning.

Whirlochre said...

Hmm. This is a tricky one. I suppose it falls into the same category as hospital treatment for smokers and drinkers.

You've ended up how you are because you smoke 500 a day and drink twice that many pints in an afternoon — why should the rest of us pay for your treatment?

Or maybe, mountain climbers who have to be dragged off mountains by the rescue services (etc etc).

In so many instances, we are the architects of our own ills, and ought to suffer the lash accordingly.

For me, however, the bottom line in emergenmcies has to be "do these people need help, now?" That way, I feel perfectly justified in kicking the stupid the rest of the time, even if they haven't done anything wrong.

pacatrue said...

I'd be up for charging the people who remained behind if they required expensive evacuation later. Sure, exemptions for people who cannot leave for some reason (elderly, etc.), but if you could have left and decided to stay and take my money to help you out... We'll help, but once several weeks have passed, there's a bill.

Robin S. said...

Good idea, paca.

There are so many times, not all emergency situations, but so many, when I've seen this kind of thing happen.

Of course there are surprises that hit you, like BT said, as well.

AND there's the part where I trust myself to take care of myself more than I trust evacuators, frankly.

SO, it's complicated.

But stupids should definitely take credit for their own stupidity. It's not always 'the man's' fault or an act of God that gets ya. And you need to be forced to face up to the fact that you fucked up, and not be allowed to blame others all the time. And then there's simply what we think of as luck or fate or whatever. I could go on...