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Listen to the hair on the back of your neck

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by walden3, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. walden3

    walden3 Walden3

    from my local paper-
    By Rob Haneisen/Daily News staff
    The MetroWest Daily News
    Posted Jun 04, 2008 @ 12:01 AM
    Last update Jun 04, 2008 @ 11:03 AM
    <hr class="m5v">
    If you are like me, your concept of preparedness reaches its zenith when your shirt is ironed for work the night before.
    Beyond that, I'm wingin' it. And I'm not alone.
    Hurricane season began June 1 and we already had our first tropical storm off the coast of Belize. Hurricane season - and in the Northeast the onset of winter - are usually two triggers for the government to put out emergency preparedness tips and resources. Are you prepared? What will your family do in an emergency? Have you replenished your emergency supplies that have expired?
    The answer to those last three questions for a vast majority of people is a resounding "no."
    According to a 2007 American Red Cross survey, 93 percent of Americans are not prepared for a natural disaster, pandemic or terrorist attack.
    A Mason-Dixon poll last month of people living in Florida, the Gulf Coast and other areas prone to hurricanes showed either a remarkable level of ignorance or a population that simply hasn't gotten around to preparing. That poll reported in the Miami Herald last month showed 54 percent don't feel vulnerable to a hurricane. Excuse me? How many hurricanes have wiped out parts of Florida, the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf?
    The same poll showed that 85 percent had done nothing in the past year to make their home stronger and 13 percent said they might not or would not evacuate even if ordered to do so.
    Despite the massive media coverage of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the onslaught of spring tornadoes and wildfires out west, people still seem to have an attitude that disasters happen to someone else.
    Coastal residents in Massachusetts are not immune from hurricanes despite recent history. The last hurricane to hit the Bay State was BOB in 1991. Though only a Category 2 storm with winds from 96 to 110 mph, BOB caused almost $1 billion in damages, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
    And it's not just coastal residents who should be concerned. When Hurricane Floyd weakened to a tropical storm and came ashore, it caused damage as far inland as the Berkshires in 1999. Some of the most historic New England hurricanes have been associated with massive inland flooding. The 1938 hurricane that ravaged the coast also dropped 17 inches of rain in central and western Massachusetts. And tropical storms Connie and Diane in 1955 produced 25 inches of rain over five days.
    With all that history and potential for it to occur again, why aren't we prepared for the next big one?
    For starters, people don't want to spend money in this economy on something that in all likelihood is not needed. Do you have jugs of water for every person in your house to get by for a week? Do you have non-perishable food? What about extra flashlights and batteries? Don't forget spare cash and a stockpile of prescription and over-the-counter medicines. How about a weather radio? Have you reviewed your homeowners policy to check what's covered?
    People, myself included, also tend to procrastinate on projects that don't have a deadline. With no imminent disaster to be concerned about, I've got plenty of other projects to keep me busy.
    Some, but not me, also have an unhealthy optimism regarding the randomness of destruction.
    On a recent Saturday afternoon, my newsroom colleagues and I watched in awe as CNN showed live footage of a tornado tearing across a field in Oklahoma and ripping apart a large barn and farmhouse.
    "Is that a cow?" I remember saying as we watched the debris swirl around.
    After making a beeline for the house and barn in an otherwise featureless landscape - ruining some farmer's day and by all appearances killing several cattle - the twister picked up and moved to a nearby field where all it did was rustle leaves and rip up some grass.
    Oddly enough, Chicago Public Radio's This American Life that afternoon recounted the story of a 2001 tornado that wiped out a third of Hoisington, Kan., on prom night. One startled student said they were shocked a tornado would hit their sleepy little town because "nothing ever happens in Hoisington."
    Is that unhealthy optimism or ignorance? Maybe we can chalk that up to shock from having seen a third of your town flattened.
    What about me? I write about weather catastrophes all the time. I've been very close to a tornado twice - one time in a mobile home in Florida, the other in a car in Mississippi. I've survived numerous blizzards and ice storms. I've interviewed tornado, flood and hurricane survivors. I've written about the hazards of wildfires and dirty bomb attacks. I'm worried that a global economic crisis may cause some sort of massive chaos. And I'm afraid of ZOMBIES.
    All I have in my basement pantry are about two dozen cans of veggies and a case and a half of home brew. I could say I'm too busy and too cash-strapped to properly outfit for disaster but we all know what a poor excuse that is.
    For emergency preparedness information, go to www.mass.gov/mema.
    (Rob Haneisen can be reached at rhaneis@cnc.com or 508-626-3882.)"
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