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Disasters and such

Posted: September 12, 2017 12:50 p.m.
Updated: September 12, 2017 1:00 a.m.

As Irma bore down on the U.S. mainland, the hysteria got more and more pronounced. It’s only Friday as I write this -- she’s not supposed to even be anywhere near South Carolina until today -- and everyone was quickly losing their minds.

Don’t get me wrong -- these big ol’ blows are nothing to sneeze at. Just ask anyone digging out right now. Absolutely it pays to be careful and if someone official advises you to evacuate, they mean “you need to leave now” not “wow, you need to change your shorts.”

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, some of the media hype is getting a little silly. Does The Weather Channel really need to provide live, real time coverage of ... a traffic jam?

Seems to me that’s a great way to talk people into staying home and watching millions of poor suckers with building road rage creep hundreds of miles on a major highway.

Of course, then I went to the grocery store last night -- not to stock up on emergency supplies but to buy dog food. Just about all the bottled water was gone as well as pretty much all of the bread -- although it was good to see our local health nuts at least left a lot of multi-grain for the rest of us.

Happily, the beer guy was busily restocking those shelves.  Oddly enough, there was still plenty of milk, too, so I guess we all aren’t total slaves to bald cliché.

A friend of mine once told me about hurricane preparation in Florida. He said, basically, that the situation anywhere in Florida was much like the situation in Atlanta when the forecast called for snow.

“Yeah, everybody goes and cleans out all the liquor stores and the weather men stay up all night and don’t shave.”

But that was 20 years ago.  These days, mass hysteria is big business. It’s not enough to talk about some big system way the heck out in the Atlantic and potential problems it can cause. 

No, these days we must parse every little moment, from the first dropping millibar of pressure to the price of wood screws in Boca Raton.

I swear, it’s moments like these when I really, trulyfeel like I’m living in a real time version of the classic John Carpenter movie, “They Live,” only without the sense of reality.

I suppose I am probably not the person to consult on how to react to an impending natural disaster. I have blissfully slept through at least two tornados and an earthquake. I have happily paddled a surfboard out into hurricane swells. I have stayed in places I probably had no business staying at for far longer than I should have, just because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Indeed, in my younger, devil-may-care (read that as young and stupid) days, my emergency preparedness kit consisted largely of an old Bic lighter, a 12-pack of cheap beer, three granola bars and a diet coke, not necessarily all kept in the same place and at the same time.

Somehow, I have survived these things and have become a little more circumspect with age. I actually do have things like extra waterand spare flashlight batteries around the house -- I even own more than one flashlight -- and I do tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to things like potentially catastrophic weather and nuclear holocaust. 

But enough of this ratings hawking and shameless fear mongering. These people need to lose the rain slicker hoodies, doomsday voices, esoteric factoids and non-essential statistics and get with just telling folks what is going on.

Meanwhile, I think I’ll go take a nap. And when I wake up, I might have a beer.

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