Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene: A Terrible Time To Showcase Misplaced Priorities.

Source: Wikipedia
I'd like to begin with an apology for not being more tuned in to the news prior to Friday AM. Had I paid attention to what was going on in the world (more specifically the US Eastern Seaboard) I would not have titled Friday's post "The Sky is Most Definitely Not Falling". Just like my eating habits, I need to make better choices. That said, beginning Friday morning I plugged into Ireneageddon 24/7.  My in-laws were in Richmond, VA for my brother-in-laws wedding, so I had a vested interest in the disaster coverage OCD.

Get Out While You Can.
As Hurricane Irene was churning it's way to N.C. (1st stop on it's North American Tour) the pre-disaster briefings were already appearing on the news channels. One official was going over in-storm procedure and made it clear: "Our concern is the preservation of life. Property damage is of no consideration until the storm passes." I like the people before property plan. It's both concise and common sense. Later in the hour, the evacuation of North Carolina was under discussion. I was dismayed to learn that some "hurricane veterans" were choosing to remain to "protect their property". Huh? How do you protect your property from a natural disaster? Negotiation? Threats? Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and the rest of the "act of God" posse are immune to logic.

Keep Your Personal Choices Personal.
I am not a fan of obtrusive government and I believe in an individual's right to chart their own course. There are many dangerous avocations that people choose to pursue. Go ahead, have a good time and send me some pictures. I also understand limited resources (far more than I would like to) and irreplaceable assets.
But:

  • When someone chooses to remain despite a government recommended/required evacuation, their stubbornness puts others at risk. Rescue agencies also have limited resources. Choosing not to evacuate when able leaves those that are unable to evacuate in an even more vulnerable position.
  • Remember the pictures of people standing on top of buildings waiting to be rescued during Katrina and other hurricanes. When the water floods, the only value to personal property is using it as protection from the disaster. Since the property is now (poorly) protecting the person as opposed to the person protecting the property, why didn't the person get out of harms way in the first place?
What Is Most Important To You?
The early evaluation of preparedness for Hurricane Irene appears to be positive. That doesn't absolve nor excuse those that chose to stay put despite the conventional wisdom to do otherwise. Property isn't more important than people. Not during Hurricane Irene, or any other day of the year, either. Valuing stuff over human life showcases inverted priorities. It's annoying every day of the year and dangerous during a natural disaster.

Do you agree? How do you feel about people choosing to be in harms way? What are your thoughts about people that place a higher importance on property over people?




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