Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Unfasten your seatbelts...it's hurricane season

A lot of coastal residents are apparently standing on their front porches with a battery and a bagel shouting "Bring it on" to the upper atmosphere. The 2005 hurricane season flounced onto news radar screens recently with the following breezy headline: "Many Blow Off Hurricane Safety." More than half the residents of the coastal areas surveyed from Maine to Texas do not feel vulnerable to hurricanes. Aside from the jaw-dropping, palm-uprooting implications of the story, the Proper English portion of my brain was wondering if the general public is familiar with the phrase "blow off." It was not being used in the sense of "my hat blew off," or "I was blowing off some steam after work," or "my roof blew off and landed in the Gulf of Mexico." The headline writer used the slang connotation of the (ahem) verb to blow off, which means to ignore, skip or not care about. More or less. Do older folks (i.e. the majority of the newspaper-reading public) know this? Was the copy writer winking at us with an admittedly clever headline? Or has this term actually slipped into Webster's Pub for Definitions using a fake I.D.? I still wonder if the Grandparent Crowd is scratching its collective cranium on that one. According to the Associated Press article, 47 percent have no disaster plan in place to deal with an impending hurricane. Considering that last year's caravan of tropical monstrosities resulted in more than 100 deaths and billions in damage, U.S. coastal residents seem remarkably blase about preparing. A lot of them simply aren't. Why? The answer to that probably lies deeper in the coastal dweller's psyche that a researcher would want to plunge without rubber gloves. Here are my top Hurricane Indifference TheorieS (HITS): 1) "It didn't hit my house." One in five Florida homes were damaged or destroyed by last year's storms. That's a full eighty percent of people who got to watch the whole thing on TV with nary a breeze to worry about. Them's pretty good odds! 2) "We can always evacuate." According to the poll, 25 percent of residents felt they could flee flood-prone areas within 30 to 60 minutes of a projected hurricane landfall if it happens to swerve as Hurricane Charley did. Hahahahahahaha. That's a great plan if you don't mind "riding out" the storm idling in six lanes of traffic as the eye of the hurricane passes over your car. 3) "It can't possibly be as bad as last year." It's actually projected to be worse, if the National Hurricane Center is to be believed. They expect 12 to 15 named tropical storms this year, 7 to 9 of those likely to become hurricanes. Hurricane activity overall is forecast to be 70 percent above normal. So it probably won't be as bad as last year. It may be worse. 4) "FEMA will bail us out." I'd be loathe to put all my eggs in the FEMA basket, especially if FEMA is attending picnics in more than one affected state. There's no way to tell how many hurricane victims there will be, or how far down the "need help" list you may fall. 5) "If it happens, it happens." On the one hand this philosophy seems nuts. On the other, there are millions of people living on the giant shifting tectonic plate that passes for the state of California. According to earthquake specialists California's "big one" was due a few years ago. I guess it takes a special state of mind to not worry about that fact. So the hard-rocking quintet of Bonnie, Charley, Jeanne, Frances and Ivan caught the attention of the crowd when they were in town, but no one's calling for an encore. And hey, we may need those lighters once our batteries run low. That's one way to toast a bagel.


Blogger alena said...

Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!

10/03/2005 04:33:00 PM  
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