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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Storm's Responsibilities

In Galveston, Texas, and in many other places, as so often in the past, one storm, a largely wet one, has passed while another, a mostly dry one, is beginning. And just about the time that this second storm subsides, another wet one will show up, and the whole cycle will be repeated, over and over.

After having done considerable damage to the human endeavors along a large part of the U.S. Gulf Coast, though not as much as expected, Hurricane Ike is now some mildly unsettled weather up in the midwest somewhere. But meanwhile the usual furore is building up in and about the damaged areas, in more forms than the beautifully simple hurricane could ever have taken.

This time a lot of it will center around the 25 percent or so of Galvestonians who chose to stay put when they were told in no uncertain terms to get out. I feel close to this, because I'm afraid in the same situation I would be one of those stay-puts, to whom the term "stupid" is now being so freely applied.

But even I wondered about all the calls for help that the emergency services received from the stay-puts at the height of the storm, which at that point was so fierce that the authorities couldn't possibly have come to anyone's rescue. Galveston seems to be in an especially vulnerable position, because it is built on what looks to be little more than an oversized sandbar, and Ike, unable to overcome the town with a full frontal blow, because of a seawall, attacked it successfully from the less ably defended rear.

In that situation, and after having made that decision, I like to think that, figuring the storm couldn't last forever, and as long as the flood waters weren't up to my nose, I would not have thought of calling for the help that I wouldn't have seen myself as deserving.

Events are so much a matter of taking personal responsibility, though I can understand that in moments of ultimate stress, those kinds of considerations can all fly straight out of the window, and the mouth automatically pops wide open for the scream.

Still, among the things that I've heard that have embedded themselves so deeply into my mentality that they have become part of its structure are a few last lines from the journal of an English explorer named Robert Scott. In 1912 he and four others raced to be the first to set foot on the South Pole, only to find that someone else had gotten there a month earlier, and on their weary and downcast trek back, all five died in the extreme cold. But in his final moments Scott still had the presence of mind to leave for us the following summing up of his situation that deserves to ring through the ages:

I do not regret this journey. We took chances, we knew we took them, things have come out against us. Therefore we have no cause for regret.

(Meanwhile we wait to hear again from Steve Bates, in Houston. It has been two days now since his last update. But clearly he is still enclosed in his girl friend's apartment or in his own, with no power and not much running water ...unless he is outside checking out things and picking his way through the debris, maybe with camera in hand.)


Blogger LeftLeaningLady said...

I have evacuated for storms twice. Opal in '95, because I was active duty and the base commander said, "Go." Hey, direct order and they were paying anyway, so I went.
Then Dennis in '05. Mandatory evacuations for everyone in my town and the unincorporated areas around it. Bridge to bridge to bridge, because leaving is not possible without crossing one. Dennis was a bust. No wind, barely any rain. Had a nice visit with the In-laws.
I would not have stayed for Ike and I am far enough away from the water to not be concerned about flooding. We had already made arrangements for someplace to stay before he shifted west and we knew we were not in danger. Still, a portion of the county flooded Thursday and Friday.

My issue is, if you are going to stay, then yes, be prepared and take responsibility for yourself. There are people who stayed who are already complaining that they have no food. Why not? Peanut butter and crackers will get boring after a while, but it will keep you from starving. We keep enough canned goods for 1-2 weeks in our cabinets all the time during this time of the year. Now, if your house is blown away, then maybe your supplies are also, then LEAVE. You aren't safe anyway!

10:50 AM  
Blogger Carl (aka Sofarsogoo) said...

Thanks for this info. Just moments ago I had left a comment on your site, as I hadn't seen a post from you since you spoke here about the floods in your county. I thought that you, like Steve Bates, might be suffering from shorted electrons.

Though it's something I've never had to experience and am now not likely to, that whole evacuation thing is really something to think about. By this time, though, people down your way must be pretty tired of being called upon so much recently to think about it, and I have the feeling that they have felt that way at least in Texas for a while now.

12:26 PM  

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