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Why Don't People Heed Bad Weather Warnings?

Marion Charatan

Posted on October 14, 2018 12:47

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Hurricane Michael ripped through Florida and literally leveled the tiny town of Mexico Beach, Florida last week. Why didn't some residents evacuate as mandated and stayed right in the eye of the storm?

The recent flattening of the tiny town of Mexico Beach, Florida, with a population of 1, 072, by Hurricane Michael emphasized the power of Mother Nature. It also showed naysayers that global warming does exist and is alive and well.

Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm, was fueled by higher than normal ocean temperatures. The beach town on Florida's Gulf Coast is in splinters, looking like a bomb had blasted through the area. Homes were knocked off their foundations and swept away by rushing water. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power from Florida to North Carolina.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Brock Long criticized Floridians who did not follow the evacuation orders or better prepare for Hurricane Michael before the storm made landfall there on Wednesday, October 10.

Long said Americans living along the coast have, unfortunately, “not learned the lesson” of how dangerous hurricanes and storm surges can be. He severely criticized residents for not getting out -- especially since Michael is the strongest hurricane the area has ever encountered. The 155-mph winds packed a punch that was never seen before.

BuzzFeed news categorized the FEMA administrator as ‘pissed.’  I really can’t blame him. I don’t know if people like to live in danger or simply are in denial. Long asserted "you get ticked off about it."

Well ahead of Michael's landfall, 13 counties had mandatory evacuation orders. In spite of his criticism of Floridian's who chose to stay, Long praised Congress for passing the Disaster Recovery Reform Act last week. This Act makes pre-disaster mitigation a priority and will develop strategies to cut down human and property loss.

So far, the death toll climbed to 19 as of Saturday, October 13, with the latest victim reported in Virginia.

Why don’t some people heed weather warnings? Social psychologist Cassandra Shivers-Williams of Howard University said some might not get out due to lack of funds, their age or disability, but there are emotional reasons, too.

She said people don't adhere to mandatory evacuation orders because they think, "Well, I can’t leave other people behind. I can’t leave my friends; I can’t do this in good faith knowing that other people I know and I love need my help on this."

An article from Newsweek I came across written on 9/11 in 2008 following Hurricane Gustav had another take. They are strong-willed, independent individuals who relish the idea of riding out something most of us would consider being too dangerous to remain. There will always be the thrill seekers among us.

But common sense has to prevail in emergency situations that are life-threatening. Heed the advice of the experts and get out any way you can so in the future, in spite of the property and land loss, more lives can be saved.

Marion Charatan

Posted on October 14, 2018 12:47

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