Every time there is a big hurricane preparing to swoop upon us, there are countless news articles featuring people who stubbornly make themselves comfy and say “I’m not leaving.” I just read this article, Strapped for Cash, Some in New Orleans Stay and Hope, and while I empathize with those who don’t have the money to stay at a hotel during the evacuation period, there are others who are simply annoying.
One woman in this article refuses to leave because she has 2 dogs. I adore my cats, and there is no way I’d leave without them. There’s also no way I’d leave them parked directly in harm’s way when I’ve had ample time and warning to remove them from the threat. I lived in south Florida for years and was evacuated several times. Guess what? Each time, I took my cats with me, and with some advance planning, I found lodging that accepted my cats for a night or two until we could safely return home. It’s not terribly difficult to find motels or hotels that allow pets, and I can’t stand that animals are forced into potentially dangerous situations because their human can’t or won’t think ahead and plan for everyone’s safety.
Another couple in this article have a means of transportation and the funds to evacuate, but their logic runs this way: they were devastated during Katrina, so they refuse to leave for this storm. From the article:
Like a relationship that suffers a bad break-up and is stronger after a reunion, she worries that she hasn’t got the heart to leave and then return a second time.
“When you stand out there by that river and look at that levee,” she said, “you are just so blessed to live here. I am in love, and so I make my choice.”
Oversentimentalizing this decision doesn’t make it any less foolish. At least in this case, they are only jeopardizing themselves. How many people, with similiar thought processes, are refusing to leave and are therefore making that same decision for young children who have no power to choose otherwise?
The only people in this article I have compassion for are the ones who have no money to live at a hotel for a few days, or those in fear of losing their jobs if they leave. It is a privilege that I always had a car, as well as money for gas and a hotel room, when I evacuated. I don’t know what kinds of transportation and shelter accomodations the evacuating areas have managed to arrange, so I really don’t know what residents’ options are.
When I was packing my car to head out of town before a hurricane a few years ago, a new neighbor in my apartment complex met me outside, nervous and scared, not sure what to expect, not sure where to go. She had just moved to the area and had never been through a hurricane before. I didn’t even hesitate. I told her to pack a bag and hop into the car with me.
It just seems to me that if people took better care of each other, no resident of any city in any emergency would be facing limited or no options. I know, call me idealistic. But it’s still true.