Oct 272005

Last year, I had to evacuate due to Charlie, and we huddled down here for several other storms. We’ve been a bit more lucky this year, but have had to prepare for several. I count my blessings that Tampa hasn’t hit been harder than it has, and so I can’t fully appreciate the frustration being felt by the people in South Florida….BUT….

We haven’t had a hurricane yet that didn’t give days, if not a week or more, of time to prepare, and Wilma was certainly no exception. Last Wednesday, prior to leaving town on business (and in case the storm behaved differently and I could not get back), I made sure the house was prepared for anything that might come this way. That included being sure there was ample food and water here.

The State of Florida provided a period of time before hurricane season to purchase certain hurricane supplies tax free. Among other things, we purchased a generator, and I’ve tested it to make sure I could get it connected to the house. I have a water cooler, and maintain six five gallon water jugs, and when a storm is approaching, I make sure they are all full. I make sure there is propane for the gas grill. We also make it a point to get the gas in the cars topped off a few days ahead of the storm. If you ask me, this is just part of life in Florida . The state emergency management people are always pounding away that one should be prepared to survive for three or four days on your own, and I think that’s a reasonable expectation.

However, apparently the people in Miami-Dade don’t think they have to take any personal responsibility. As of yesterday (Wednesday) just two days after the storm, they were already complaining that relief supplies were not getting through to them, and lining up at gas stations for gas. Well, everything is closed, where do they need to go anyway?

This lady, in a story on TBO.com, was complaining because she just didn’t have time to lay in some provisions prior to Wilma’s arrival:

Ruth Granados, a single mother who is seven months pregnant, said her job and responsibilities as a mother gave her little time to shop before the storm. That left her waiting in line for more than nine hours Wednesday for free ice and water.

Give me a break! The storm lingered around for over a week before it finally took aim at Florida, and during that time it had become a record setting storm in its intensity. If you know that is heading your way, you make some time prepare. Please don’t expect me to believe, that during the entire time Wilma was active, this lady never went to the grocery store. I just won’t buy it. And she’s been able to find nine hours to wait in line for ice and water. I’ll bet the grocery store lines were not nine hours long last Friday or Saturday.

I suppose, given that most of you probably consider me a bleeding heart liberal, this attitude will come as a surprise. It shouldn’t. I have always been a believer in personal responsibility first. I am willing to be prepared to make it on my own for the expected three or four days. In fact, I hope I am prepared enough to make it longer than that, but when its really bad, and the chips are down…I do expect the government to show up within a week or so to provide some help. In the case of Katrina, the government didn’t live up to their end of the bargain. In the case of Wilma, it looks like the residents of Miami-Dade didn’t take time to live up to their end.

Within two or three days, relief supplies were arriving, but people should not have been lining up for them. These people should have been self-sustaining during these first days, and if they were not prepared for that, then shame on them. Look at the map people…Florida has two coasts and juts right down into the tropics. Its why we live here, and its why we have a big target painted on the state by mother nature.

I don’t ever want to experience a direct hit by a hurricane, and perhaps if I do, I will react differently. But, I have experienced the power outages, evacuations, and other disruptions that are part of living in a hurricane prone area. I spend more for insurance to be sure I’m as covered as possible (and this includes flood insurance even though I’m not in a flood plane and it’s not required). I have a generator, I store water, and I have some food staples around when a storm is approaching. It’s not fun, but its better than the alternative.

So, I don’t want to seem disingenuous to the people hurt by the storm in South Florida. I am sympathetic toward them for the things they have lost and the time it will take to recover and rebuild, but not as sympathetic for those not really prepared to weather a few days on their own.

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