Image from source, Washington Post
Every part of the country seems to have some vulnerability to natural disasters. That's why I get frustrated when I hear people say, "well, why does anybody live there?" One reason is, what's home is home. And whether you have to deal with earthquakes or tornadoes or forest fires or hurricanes or floods, we've all got something.
Even here in Las Vegas, we have drought, though we've managed to survive so far. Outside of that, the occasional localized fire or dust devil are about it. So the scale of a natural disaster lives only in my memories of the strong tornado seasons of the 1970s in Ohio. Xenia was flattened, and we seemed to have dozens of tornado warnings every year for years. But we stayed there.
Hurricanes in particular are quite peculiar in the way they affect us. Unlike earthquakes--where we can only react, or tornadoes, where we have only hours or minutes to prepare--hurricanes give us days of warnings. We can only sit and wait for it to come. Ride it out or flee, you can't stop it from coming, and it seems to plod along on its destructive path.
The most unusual aspect might be the way technology has brought it into our living rooms. In the last few years, there has been a communication convergence of sorts. Multiple channels of 24-hour cable news have become a ubiquitous reality, and so has instant information on the internet. We can know more about what's going on, faster than we ever could before. And yet, the hurricane takes its sweet time. It's a strange combination of anticipation and dread, and you just want it over with, while simultaneously having a morbid curiosity of what is going to happen.
While I am an avowed cynic, have Mark Twain's view of humanity, and am rampantly morbidly curious, I'm still hopeful that Hurricane Gustav wreaks as little damage in property and life as is possible. I also hope that no political party over-hypes or exploits the aftermath to their advantage. But that's a lot of wishing.
To see a particularly interesting interactive map of Gustav and other storms, click here: Washington Post