Thursday, September 8, 2011

Natural Diaster Week not enough for you?

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Photo:NASA/NOAA GOES Project Hurricane Irene
There was a lot of complaining in our little state that the news media and officials gave too much hype to Hurricane Irene. I think THIS cartoon, by Rob Torone, sums it up best. For those who think it was over-hyped: Did you really want find out what mega-flooding is and are you expecting weather forecasters and public officials to make guarantees that loss of life and property are going to occur?

We don't have the science for those guarantees... except with this storm those terrible things did occur. It's just that we got lucky. Really, really lucky... except for those people who had their homes and vehicles destroyed. And the farmers who lost crops and livestock... and the businesses that were flooded.  Oh, and the people who died. So I guess you could say that the people who were merely inconvenienced were annoyed at being inconvenienced without thinking about the actual people and communities that had tremendous losses on the Delmarva Peninsula. Plus, it really damaged my garden, which had been a labor of love... :(

Don't worry, inconvenienced people! You'll see that devastation show up in your rising grocery budget. Economic devastation does trickles down. Actually, that economic impact can be compared to a river at flood stage.

I personally think our area needed Irene to test the mettle of its newest emergency plan. Good news: It worked! Whether one thinks it was dramatized or not, we now know that we can face a potential mega-disaster with relative calm because we've been through the Irene Drill. I would venture to guess that many, many homes now have an emergency kit and plan. I know we have ours. As a state, we are ready to face whatever nature throws at us while hoping we don't have to face it.

If there's one thing I've taught my son, it's that he needs to respect Mother Nature. You cannot master the forces of the Earth, so never underestimate them. What you can do is be prepared and practice good safety measures to minimize it's impact. It's a great method for helping kids feel like they have some measure of control over their own environment when things don't feel all that stable.

The week of natural disasters, everything was shaky-- emotionally, mentally and physically. I think everyone was on edge because the hurricane was preceded by an earthquake. I think that got everyone ready to expect the unexpected. But maybe there was a big let down that this was not the end of the world or enough to have our area featured  in one of those Discovery Channel mega disaster shows?

(The Delmarva Peninsula has the grand privilege of amplifying earthquake waves. They say the quake we felt was only a 2 on the Richter Scale. It'd hate to feel a three! Our house turned into a shaky kidde-coaster. The house went up and down and side to side, with enough motion to pop up floor board nails, disconnect some plumbing and pop plastic siding out of place. I'm ready to move into a sturdier structure!)

Did I want to find out how my home reacts to an earthquake and a hurricane happening within a week of each other? Not really. Did I mind the forecasters saying "get away from water!"? Not at all, especially since our little town floods whenever we have heavy rains. Did I want to find out how autism and hurricanes mix? Not on your life. Earthquakes and autism don't do well together, so I was not about to lump in the potential storm of the century.

We opted for a "hurrication". Instead of going to a shelter, instead of going through the anxiety of a storm, we went to visit my parents in upstate New York. We beat the traffic by leaving a day before everything was officially evacuated. We packed up all the essentials, including our pets-- who did really well on a 9 hours car trip-- and hit the open road.

We hadn't had a vacation in two years and after our crazy, stressful summer, it was time. We had an awesome and relaxing time... except for Saturday night when we watched the news with bated breath to see if our area survived the storm. It did survive, mainly due to the preparation measures (yay for a sandbagged library). So, instead of riding out a hurricane, my boy rode on roller coasters. He was happy and relaxed rather than having anxiety induced meltdowns.

I'm not sure what people expected to happen? Did they want more death and destruction to feel like the weekend wasn't wasted? I'm not really sure. Perhaps they aren't educated in the art of hurricane prediction and forecasting? Or maybe they don't realize that the media can get into a lot of trouble for over-hyping a hurricane? You know, forecasters aren't allowed to cause mass panic.

When the people on The Weather Channel get deadly serious and have a somber tone-- dropping the meteorologist boner tone- we need to listen. When governors go on the airwaves speaking to the populous like children, they have good reason to do it. When resort towns start banning the sale of alcohol things are not okay.

If the hurricane wasn't enough for you or annoyed you, well, all I have to say is good luck in future storms. Hurricane season isn't over until November, so perhaps you'll have plenty of opportunity to practice what you preach. And maybe you'll be lucky to keep preaching after the next one... or maybe Mother Nature will take you and your stuff out. In the mean time, I'd be happy to give you a hurricane reenactment-- it'd be great stress relief!

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