At my house we weathered the storm with a relative minimum of excitement. I say “minimum” because we did lose power briefly (but had it restored almost immediately), we did get water in the basement (but not a lot), and the street started to flood (but then the rain slacked off before water came boiling up out of the sewer grates). My tomatoes are battered, but the staking seems to have held up. We are having to pay cash for most purchases, as I expected, because the data lines required to process credit card transactions haven’t been brought back up.
We’re not entirely out of the woods yet, because as anyone who watched the Katrina disaster start to unfold on this date six years ago, sometimes the biggest problems don’t come while the storm is passing over, it can come well after the fact. This is likely to be the problem here, too. We did get a lot of trees, branches, and debris down, and many areas around us lost power for what I am certain felt like forever, but the second shoe has yet to fall. The storm moved north of us into Vermont and continued dumping massive amounts of rain, which has gone into their rivers and created some truly nasty flash flooding, but is ultimately going to wind up in the Connecticut River – which runs right next to my town. We, in town, are somewhat protected from this kind of thing by levees, but as we all know, levees can fail or be surmounted by water. This happened right here in 1936, drowning the side of town I live on. The projections for the flooding over the next couple of days aren’t for the levels that breeched the levees in ’36, but they do involve substantial flooding for the nearby farms and farming towns.
My heart breaks for these farmers. Farming is an incredibly hard, dirty, dangerous, risky job – and these farmers undertake that basket of trouble for the good of the rest of us. A fine place we’d be in if we had no farmers. For that matter, a fine place we’d be in if we had no small farmers, which is the kind that we have around here. Frankly, I do not want to live in the world where all of my food comes from vast industrial farms using God-only-knows-what kind of toxic crap that is being steamrollered out of the chemical labs at Monsanto. For pete’s sake, they just realized, now, after fifteen years of deploying GMO corn, that Round-Up causes birth defects. Or rather, given the kind of frightening shenanigans to which Monsanto has been prone in the past, they may well have known this all along, and only just now not been able to prevent the news from getting out. So, no thanks. I’d like the small farmer to stay in business and – I am hopeful – thrive.
The weather we’ve had this year is hardly conducive – we had a very cool June, a baking dry July, a super-wet August, and now some considerable portion of the crops that are getting close to harvest are going to be sent under water from a tropical storm. In Massachusetts. This is insane, and it’s sad. I don’t know a lot about farming at all, and I’m really hoping that these guys will be able to take some kind of measures to prevent the crops – including the cigar-wrapping tobacco crops that are currently drying in the barns – from being destroyed.
As for me, I’m not going to return my papers and such to the basement until Thursday, when the water is supposed to start going down, just in case.
Right now, I’m hearing the Sweet Sound of Storm Recovery – a sound with which I am well familiar from decades living on or near-enough to the Texas Gulf Coast: it’s the Dulcet Tones of the Buzzing Chainsaw, as people get out to clean up the wood that came down yesterday. What I wasn’t familiar with from my years in Texas was the Sweet Sound of Storm Preparation, also the Song of the Buzzing Chainsaw. I don’t think I’d ever heard that one before, which seems odd, because it’s really so much better when you know a storm is coming, to go out and bring down any questionable boughs, rather than waiting for them to be brought down and flung through the air to impact your windows. It seems like such a simple thing to do this, but my recollection of storm prep from my years at home doesn’t include this. It includes a lot of long lines at the gas station and the grocery store, it includes people bringing home fuel for the chainsaws they expected to need after the storm, but I think the first time I actually saw people preparing for a storm by bringing down tree limbs was at Disney in 2004.
I am certain that that preparation, in addition to everyone religiously scouring their yards and homes for stuff that could go flying, is why we escaped having more damage here. The warning went out, virtually everyone heeded it and did what was necessary, and the storm damage was reduced. This is what the warnings are for.
What I’m waiting for and hoping that I won’t find is a crowd of yahoos who see that the storm damage wasn’t worse, and start criticizing the media for “hyping” it and the NWS for sowing panic. It won’t occur to these people that the damage wasn’t worse because of the warnings and prep, they’re going to assume that the damage wasn’t worse because the storm wasn’t as bad as they said. It was. It was pretty much exactly as predicted, and went pretty much exactly where it was predicted. The predictions were off in terms of the precise timing, but even then, the predictions were for it to start getting bad in the morning, and to keep on being bad until midnight. And that’s exactly what happened – it didn’t get bad and stay bad because these kind of storms are organized in little rings, and there’s a gap between the rings that gives a lull, but when I went to bed last night at 11pm, the wind was ramping right up again, just as predicted.
But the facts aren’t going to get in the way of the convictions of this group that they’ve been used like chumps. Honestly, I don’t actually care if people employ bad logic and muddy thinking and get ticked off about stuff as a result. The part where I care is when that perspective gets entrenched, and next time we get a storm like this on the forecast, people saying “It wasn’t so bad last time, I’m not going to waste any time doing anything this time.” And they won’t prepare, and next time, because everyone hasn’t prepared, we will have a lot of unnecessary damage. It only takes one house leaving the windchimes, and the bird feeder, and the patio furniture, and the kids’ toys outside in the driveway to damage houses on the entire block. It only takes one family refusing to leave an evacuation zone to endanger the lives of the rescue team. This kind of thing I did see, in spades, in Texas. You can still see it now if you hit YouTube and search for videos of Hurricane Ike. And, heaven help them, many of the people who did not evacuate New Orleans stayed there because they had no transportation out of town…but many others, extended family of mine included, stayed because they considered the risks to be “hype” and weren’t going to be used as chumps by The Man again.
The NWS has no ulterior motive for Mind Control. They’re performing a public service, and if they’re giving you some kind of alert, watch, or warning, it’s because you’re in a risky situation. They don’t have a crystal ball, but they do have pretty decent forecasting models. It’s better to make preparations that could turn out to have been unnecessary than it is to not make preparations that you needed. Sheesh. If your local authorities think you should evacuate, it’s because there’s a good chance you’ll need to, and if you did need to and didn’t do it, you could die, or someone else could die while trying to save you. It’s not because the mayor and city council want to come loot your house while you’re gone, and not because they have a vested interest in pushing you around and making you do inconvenient things. And the prep that is less troublesome than evacuation? Please. How hard is it to stow all your stuff in the garage, on a porch, or inside the house?
We really need to do a better job, in general, of helping each other out. Almost 2,000 people died in Katrina, and none of them would have died if they hadn’t still been there. All those who were in a position to leave, but got cranky about it, see point 2, above. This comment is about the rest of them, the ones who would have left if they could have. There has to be a better way of handling things than to just leave the sick and the poor behind to die. I don’t know what that better way is, but I remain convinced that it exists.
I will never forget the last week of August, 2005. I watched a city I love be murdered and left to die. I cried for days, watching that devastation on TV, all the time aware of the devastation that wasn’t being shown on TV because it would have been too much for people to handle. At the same time, I was thankful that I didn’t have to handle the stuff that wasn’t being shown.
And right now, I’m thankful that – whatever happens next time – this time people attended the warnings and we all got off the lighter because of it.