Monday, August 29, 2005 at 10:04 AM

Run For Your Lives, Katrina’s Coming, Katrina’s Coming!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Tracking Katrina: A clear and present danger!

TV stations cover natural disasters purportedly as a public service. But there’s no denying that such coverage is a ratings boon for their bottom line – catering as it does to the perverse thrill of suspense that keeps us fixated on the hype of impending doom….

Therefore, it was no surprise yesterday that programming on almost every channel in America was interrupted, continually, for “breaking news” on Katrina’s location and to warn people in her path that – as Fred Sanford would always say – “[New Orleans], dis is da BIG ONE!”

Alas, just as Fred’s false alarms became a big joke, so too have annual weather forecasts of the big one become far less foreboding. After all, despite doomsday predictions each year, only 3 out of 22 monster hurricanes (category 5) actually hit America in the 20th Century. And, the last one that was, in fact, worthy of this seasonal hysteria was Hurricane Andrew 13 years ago.

(Triskaidekaphobes will no doubt bet their lives that the real reason to be worried this time is because Katrina comes in the 13th year since Andrew. But I digress…)

Indeed, as of this posting, Katrina is a bona-fide category 5 hurricane making a beeline for Louisiana from 50 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico. But, as far as natural disasters go, a hurricane passing through America today should not leave the magnitude of devastation in its wake that drought inflicts upon people in Africa every month, or that the Tsunami washed over the unsuspecting people of Indonesia just last year or, indeed, that hurricanes cause for my people in the Caribbean every year (as Hurricane Ivan’s decimation of Grenada demonstrated so poignantly last season).

Americans are blessed with the technology, escape routes to inland shelters and other emergency management resources to gauge and withstand hurricanes with virtually no loss of life. Nevertheless, how well local authorities enforce evacuation orders and how many daring fools ignore them (and go sight seeing in the eye of the storm) shall determine Katrina’s human casualties.

On the other hand, wind gusts and biblical floods will probably cause catastrophic damage to property. But, as the building boom following Andrew proved, even such damage presents economic opportunities that some see as the silver lining in the dark clouds on the horizon. (Hurricane season for Home Depot is like Christmas season for Toys R Us. And, if you think I’m being too cynical, please note how often the damage from this hurricane is expressed in terms of dollars as opposed to lives lost….)

Floridians show Louisianans what to expect the day after Katrina…

So, notwithstanding the TV coverage, we should maintain some perspective here: A watery Pompeii New Orleans shall not become…for too long at any rate. The waters will recede and clean-up will be a bitch; but thank God for insurance…”ya’ll do have insurance, don’t ya?”

Note: Let’s hope Katrina’s winds are strong enough to finally blow away one of those wannabe Dan Rather reporters (Anderson Cooper) who seem to think it’s necessary (and heroic) to go out in the hurricane to report the obvious whilst holding on to a pole for dear life….


  1. Anonymous August 29, 2005 at 12:52 pm

    god, this is so true.

  2. plantsman August 29, 2005 at 9:49 pm

    It’s easy for smug ideologues to dismiss the deaths of ill-prepared poor folks as not having counted or mattered, it’s just so damn arrogant, inhumane and incivil to talk like that.

    You, dear person. need your brain washed out with plenty of hot water and bleach.

    Tra-La-La, no one need die in my post-modern FANTASY world.
    Uh, right.

  3. Anonymous August 30, 2005 at 1:52 pm

    What are you talking about “Tra-La-La” plantsman? Ipinions makes it clear that with all of the warning systems and available shelters, no one should’ve died. That’s why so many “ill-prepared poor folks” went to the Superdome. They survived. Others refused, they died (just as he warned would be the case). By comparison, he accurately points out that the truly ill-prepared people of Indonesia and Grenada had no warning or escape. Did you even read the article or is this just a forum for you to vent unresolved political and personal issues?

  4. Anonymous August 30, 2005 at 2:08 pm

    i agree. the superdome holds over 70,000 people and only around 10-12,000 showed up. did these people think they could hold back the rising tide. give me a break!

  5. Anonymous August 30, 2005 at 5:17 pm

    Dismissing a hurricane, of any category, that wreaks its havoc on the US as less destructive or catastrophic than one that hits the Caribbean simply becuse the US media overhypes it is narrow minded at best. Death is death, destruction is destruction – regardless of geography,language or culture – or insurance policies for that matter. True, the US media affords much more coverage to US-based catastrophies, as it well should. (you want international news? tune to BBC). But to imply that my tsunami is worse than your hurricane or your draught is a senseless exercise. To wish death or other ill-will on the people who, valiantly of vainly, attempt to cover these disasters is Pat Robertson-esque.

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