Archive for August 30th, 2017

“There is a front moving down from Canada. It has paralyzed Quebec and is promising to be the worst blizzard that New England has seen in over 75 years. Residents are warned that we are expecting more than eight feet of snow from this first storm, and it appears that there are prospects of both a second and third storm to follow. We’re not kidding here, folks. You have just about five days before this first blizzard hits. MEMA and the American Red Cross are preparing to open shelters for those who do not feel they will be safe in their homes. Get prepared now.”

Okay, you’ve been warned. You’re a New Englander. You’ve lived through the Blizzard of ’78, the snows of 2013, the horrors of Hurricane Eustis in 2028, and you believe that you’re immortal, inviolable, and invincible. Nothing can get to you. You’re Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Hulk all rolled into one. Why are you not worried? Why are you these super heroes? Why do you not have a care in the world about this impending disaster? Simple, you have your checklist. You know how to prepare. You take responsibility for you and your family and you take that responsibility seriously. What do I mean by that? Once you were informed that a major storm was headed your way, you immediately checked to ensure that the pantry was filled with non-perishable food, that all medicines were current and up-to-date, and if not, that they were refilled as insurance. How was the supply of bottled water, batteries for flashlights, back-up batteries for electronic devices, candles, and other necessities?

It’s not difficult to be prepared for emergencies. If you live in an area where certain types of disasters occur on an annual basis, you understand the need for pre-disaster-prep. A friend of mine lives in California, near the San Andreas fault. He has an evacuation bag hanging from his bedpost. In it are a pair of work boots, a few cans of food, some bottled water, a can opener, wooden matches, and several other emergency items. Is he prepared? He’s not too concerned, because he knows that he can grab that bag in the event an earthquake should happen at night. He knows there will be a great deal of broken glass in the area, hence the work boots. He is responsible and prepared.

I recognize the Hurricane Harvey was of epic proportions. I recognize that 51 inches of rain can do a hell of a lot of damage and that preparing for such a storm may be difficult. However, if I know a week ahead of time that such a storm is going to hit, I would do one of two things: (1) pack the kids in the car and fill the trunk with critical documents, non-perishables, water, etc., and get to higher ground, as far away from the storm as possible, or; (2) evacuate to a shelter when I was advised to do so by people who were far more aware of the impending danger than me. It floors me that people who were told to evacuate didn’t do so. I’m shocked when I hear people say that they didn’t know the storm would be “this bad.” When someone complains that she was trapped in the house with her two kids who didn’t have insulin for their pumps, I want to call her irresponsible and stupid. There was plenty of notice on this storm. There was time to prepare. There was time to get to shelters on high ground. There were buses to take evacuees to safe centers. Instead, many people chose to stay in homes they knew would be flooded. They chose to put the lives of rescuers on line when they could have just as easily rescued themselves. What could they possibly have of such value in their houses that they would opt to stay rather than do what they were told by those more knowledgeable? It just boggles the mind.

It’s difficult for me to fully express my admiration for the men, women, and young adults who have pitched in with power boats, jet skis, high trucks, kayaks, and other rescue vehicles…they are amazing in their dedication to their fellow man. The Coast Guard, National Guard, and the good ole “Cajun Navy” have been terrific in their efforts to guide stupid people to safety. It bothered the daylights out of me to hear a person say, “We’ve been in this shelter for three days without showers, and the floor is littered with debris, and….” Yadda, yadda, yadda. I want to say, “Hey, bitch, grab a broom and recruit others to help you clean up some of this debris. You were rescued. Now do your part. Stop complaining and start helping.” That, I’m quite certain, would be met with surprise or shock that I would dare ask an evacuee to do something to help him or herself. Granted, these people have lost everything. Granted, they are a little dazed right now. Granted, their lives have been changed forever. And it is now time to admit that, suck it up, and begin the rebuilding process. If that rebuilding begins with grabbing a broom, so be it. If it begins with finding a way to create showers for those wishing to take them, so be it. Don’t stand around and complain. Get off your butt and do something. Rescuers can only do so much. The rescued now must face some pretty harsh facts, and complaining to television cameras is no way to begin rebuilding their lives.

I’m not in Houston. I’m not in that perilous situation. I’m the guy who would have evacuated when told to do so. I’m the guy who would have gotten to the shelter and asked, “What can I do to help?” I’m old, but I can still do a few things to ease the job of other volunteers. You really don’t have to look too far to find someone who is worse off than you. The question is, are you going to help them or are you going to be the complainer who thinks only of your own situation?

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