In Florida, an approaching hurricane is not so much an environmental threat as it is a welcomed intruder.
As blasphemous as this may sound, especially after Irma landed some pretty intense jabs locally and up the west coast of the state, I contend that rather than being a natural process, the entire hurricane operation is a highly staged performance.
The past nine days demonstrated just how much of a well choreographed Shakespearean tragi-comedy Irma was.
First are the powers-that-be. Perhaps it is not entirely their fault as the media bombards them with generic, if not loaded questions, but the Governor, his lieutenants and the 4356 state mayors all do what state representatives are now paid handsomely to do : scare the population into a major shopping spree which coincides with a temporary loss of income.
My friend Bobby, aside from being unable to do the lucrative home automation work for a week, had to spend over $3000 to schlep his family to North Carolina and pull a small trailer alongside their minivan. This does not include extra food expenses and the heartbeat regulator medicine he must now take.
Then there are the other municipal servants who cancel everything in sight then wonder why there is so much chaos at the few places which remain open.
The biggest culprits of course are the media, an oversized blob of doomsayers and opportunists who foam at the mouth in hope of winning the prize for most hyperbolic and/or maudlin on-the-spot reporting
In Miami’s case, most of these bravehearts report from either the marina or beach in optimal weather several days before the expected landing, imploring the locals to use every bit of their hard earned money to drive to cities and countries they have never heard of in traffic conditions comparable to the Super Bow, and without any guarantee of a smooth return.
The forewarning is not futile and perhaps employs the proper sales technique of repetition, but to me, there is one glaring oversight – Floridians are used to rain, wind and related forces of nature. A cavalcade of water and storm surges are the threat, but most of those being pressured to evacuate live on the shoreline for a reason. If an avalanche or mudslide (which is impossible given the topography) or ice storm were coming out way, okay I can see the need for a statewide SOS. But heavy heavy rain – isn’t that what we signed up for?
Then there are the Plebians – earnest, gullible, overly solicitous residents who have plugged into at least three media forms of updates with the same concern as if the Brits have decided to reclaim America. How is it that such hardened, “we don’t even believe we need sunscreen because conditioning has provided an extra layer of pigmentation” the same people who walk around for hours in flip flops, are so petrified of an impending storm and so easily manipulated by the town criers? And exactly what do they want from the hourly updates three days in advance which they gobble like an offensive lineman told he has 90 seconds to finish a stack of pancakes.
Oh but if you are a tourist planning a getaway to Florida, dont sweat the headlines. The bigwigs say this storm is just passing through like your mother-in-law who has decided to make a quick pit stop on the way to Boston to do some shopping.“
The performance hits a crescendo when the hurricane draws near. A once bustling pseudo-city in a catchy time of year becomes a literal ghost town while the elected representatives repeat the same chorus: “Pack, flee, prepare yourself for the apocalypse, find shelters, write wills, buy enough food to feed the next 3 generations and make sure you don’t open any windows for the next week. If you can, build a makeshift panic room. But please don’t be pushy on gas, food and Home Depot Lines. “
“Oh and with the emergency cellphone we are encouraging you to buy, please ask for a credit extension on your Mastercard as your state run Citizens insurance is likely to skyrocket”.
Oh, and one more thing…
“Please Have Fun in New Orleans, or San Francisco, or Venezuela. We will be eagerly awaiting your return in our taxpayer financed hurricane friendly estates. And while you are away, please put in a good word for Florida. We can fish and golf 365 days a year, with the exception of a few hours here and there.
“And if you are more of the indoors type, our hurricane coverage is second to none.”