Commentary

Hurricane Ian brings a surge of the usual pointless pundits

September 30, 2022 5:35 am

FORT MYERS FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 29: Frankie Romulus (L) and Kendrick Romulus stand outside of their apartment next to a boat that floated into their apartment complex when Hurricane Ian passed through the area on September 29, 2022 in Fort Myers, Florida. Mrs. Brennan said the boat floated in around 7pm. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

There are three irritating things you can depend on when a major storm takes aim at the Gulf Coast and other storm-vulnerable areas of the country. We’re experiencing them yet again as Hurricane Ian wallops a large section of Florida.

First, you can count on The Weather Channel to send Jim Cantore and other poor schlubs into harm’s way so they can dodge debris and cling onto street signs for storm porn. We get it – hurricanes are dangerous. Now go inside and come back out when we need to spread the word about recovery.

The other two irritants have a far more lasting impact on storm-stricken areas. Political dogma, rather than heartfelt concern, tends to be the motivation behind them.

One is the mindset of those who question why people would live in areas susceptible to natural disasters. They also often balk at the use of public resources to protect or help such locales recover.

These are frequently the same folks who doubt the veracity of climate change, which actually makes it easier to reply to their skepticism. The heightened severity and frequency of drought, wildfires, inland flooding and tornadoes leave all corners of the U.S. vulnerable. Good luck finding a place that’s immune to global warming.

Also, let’s not forget the major industry clusters as well as the critical infrastructure that runs through places prone to hurricanes. So much of the rest of the country fails to realize how much they depend on coastal populations to provide the workforce needed to keep oil and gas flowing, trains and ships moving, and hotel rooms and tourist attractions adequately staffed.

Another nettlesome refrain is heard during the peak hurricane season: Why don’t these people evacuate?

This line of thinking incorrectly assumes leaving is an easy option, as though lifelong homes are easily left behind. It’s not simply an emotional attachment that forces people to stay put; there are often logistical hurdles to overcome, especially for the elderly and disabled.

It also fails to take into account the increasingly restrictive cost of evacuation. Most households don’t have the disposable resources to hole up in a hotel room for a week. Sure, the government might eventually reimburse evacuees, but it’s far from an efficient or convenient process. Plus, there’s the matter of having the cash in hand to cover hotel rates, food, medicine and other needs.

And don’t forget the expenses that await upon returning home to face storm damage and refrigerators and freezers that need to be restocked.

Rather than question the common sense of coastal dwellers, these armchair sociologists should find a better use of their time. The website VolunteerFlorida.org has been set up for anyone who wants to offer their support or sweat for the long recovery ahead.

Our country is at its best when we come together to help those in need. Let’s all join that chorus rather than contribute to a peanut gallery of pointless conjecture.

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