Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Or perhaps that should read FIZZLE! Ernesto has become a non-event. However, state and local authorities as well as citizens used this as a dry run for the real thing, so it makes for good preparation. (One of the local news stations had an interview with an old woman. She had put her new storm shudders up not because she thought they were needed, but just to see what kind of glitches might develop. Smart.)

But Ernesto will not be a total waste. Ernesto will be a big, wet, sloppy kiss from the tropics to the state's lawns, swamps, lakes, rivers, forests and aquifers. It's been a dry year and the remnants of a tropical system can make up for a lot of lost rainfall.

And as a bonus, I get to go to work tomorrow and run my reports. WA-HOO!


bill said...

May I ask a question? I've never understood why so many people wait until a hurricane is at their doorsteps before heading to Home Depot for plywood to board up the windows. Why not buy the stuff each year at the beginning of the season?

Is this just part of a natural human tendency to procrastinate and avoid spending $50 until absolutely necessary?

Icepick said...

It's a combination of factors.

First, the storms never go where 'they' say they will go. The variance along storm paths is large.If you're in the path of the storm, you know that you're probably safe. If you're not on that path, you're still probably safe. For example, I recall that Ernesto was headed towards Texas last Saturday. Oops! This lets everyone develop a sense of security.

Second, no one would buy supplies every year. Too much of a hassle. Now there are people that buy ahead of time. They tend to either get plywood cut to size (which they will sell to the next person to buy the house) or they will buy fancier shutters. More and more, one sees the corrogated aluminum pieces. If I owned my house, I would consider buying some myself.

There's also the matter of inexperience. Florida has lots of people who just moved here from New York, Michigan, etc, so they just don't think about hurricanes.

People move around alot. People don't normally think of hurricane supplies when they move into a new place. It usually takes a crisis to remind them of such things.

Also, if you live in a standard neighborhood, you may not need to board up your house, especially the newer houses. Our house withstood Charlie quite nicely, even though it was a borderline Cat 3 storm when it went overhead. (Incidentally, given how poorly NOLA faired under mere Cat 1 winds I have to believe that there wouldn't be anything left if they had been hit by a major storm.) Of course, we do have a large windbreak behind our house (swamp), and people living next to large flat areas or on the coast have to treat things differently.

Finally, in the case of Central Florida (away from the coasts) we simply forgot about hurricanes as a threat until 2004. The last significant hurricane to hit Orlando prior to that year was Donna in 1960. That compounded all of the issues above. Lots of time for the inexperienced to move here, and lots of time for the old-timers to grow complacent. But getting three major hurricanes in six weeks reminded us that we did, indeed, have it coming.

Now a lot of people are probably over-prepared. Lots of generators have been sold in the last two years, many of which will never be used.

Finally, regardless of overall levels of preparedness, there will always be people that for a variety of reasons will need to buy supplies at the last moment, and the camera crews will always be there to film them, just to have something to show on the news casts. That's right: I blame the media!