As a rule, I really try to remain objective, especially when writing about specific people or groups of people. As y’all know, though, if it’s on my mind, it’s on my tongue and I’ve bitten my tongue all day about the stories coming out of the northeast. Those who are cleaning up and picking up the pieces following Hurricane Irene’s landfall last weekend are finding themselves a bit short tempered, which is understandable. Many are upset because they’re still, after five days, without power. Others are sending bills for lost food in their freezers and refrigerators to their utility companies. There are more than a few of us here in the southeast who are a bit, well, speechless.
Hurricane Irene, and by the time it reached the extreme northeast, Tropical Storm Irene was interesting in many ways, partly because of its unpredictability (although the computer models pegged its landfalls perfectly). No one was sure how strong she would be during her multiple landfalls. Still, folks had days to prepare. Now, though, it’s been five days and power has yet to be restored to thousands of residents. It’s frustrating, to be sure, but here’s what has a lot of us southern folks a bit flabbergasted: It’s been five days. Not a week, not 16 days, not even a month – five days. By their descriptions, “Hurricane Irene was telegraphed more than seven days in advance as the worst storm in this century.” Really? Newsflash: you need to keep your eyes on Katia, which is likely another east coast storm. You’ve not seen the “worst storm in this century”…trust me on that one.
Now, news today includes reports that police are having to escort the various power companies that are VOLUNTEERING from other states to come and help these angry residents. They need these escorts because they’re being threatened by residents! The cavalry arrives with help, only to find themselves threatened? I’m quite confident that these men and women who left their own homes, some as far away as Denver, Colorado, never would have anticipated such an ungracious attitude.
Honestly, these people have no concept of how bad things really could have been. A year after I was born, Hurricane Camille hit and as we all know, the devastation and loss is still felt, some forty-plus years later, by many residents. The Mississippi Gulf Coast was annihilated during Camille. In 1979, another hurricane, this time, Frederic, made landfall along the same coastal area. In 1985, it was Hurricane Elena – which resulted in many residents (my family included) along the northern Gulf Coast to evacuate twice. 1998 brought Hurricane Georges and of course, 2005 was the year of Hurricane Katrina. All of these hurricanes and all of the residents who were affected, you can be sure of one thing: never, in a million years, would anyone threaten the help that came to restore power. I was young (OK – younger….I’m still young) with many of these storms, but I can recall waiting far more than five days for the electricity to be restored. Oh – and as anyone who’s ever been to the south can testify to, the summers here include 100 degree temperatures with 100 percent humidity.
Many residents in Louisiana and Mississippi had no power for weeks. Many had NO HOMES – much less, air conditioning or ice out of their freezers. Seriously, the behavior of those residents who are complaining about this need to take a step back, count their blessings and be damn glad when they do see the utility trucks in their neighborhoods. And one thing more – these volunteers are risking their lives. Anytime you have electricity, transformers, power lines and water – you’re taking a huge risk. If it were my son who worked for a utility company and who volunteered to make that trip, I can tell you without a doubt I’d strongly encourage him to come back home where manners still count for something.
And now I’m off my soapbox and back to monitoring TD #13 that’s brewing in the Gulf of Mexico right now.