But first I do have to say that in the approximately 38 1/2 years that I have lived in NW Florida, I have been incredibly lucky. While the area that I am in now took a nasty hit from Eloise in '75, I was living 2 counties west of here and many miles north. Frederick in '79 was nothing to me except a day or two out of school.
I lost a freezer full of food after Opal, but my parents had power. During Ivan the power and the cable were steady 100% of the time. (House hunting advice: Buy a home as close to the Police Dept, Fire Dept and City Hall as possible. Not only do you get a break on your Homeowner's Insurance, but these are the first areas of a city to receive power after the storm.)
I try very hard to make it a policy in my life that if I have not "walked a mile in your moccasins" then I will do my best not to judge. (Hard for me, I am very judgemental)
So, having said that, don't we, as a nation, as a people, as human beings, have a responsibility to take care of ourselves? Especially those of us who live in areas prone to natural disasters?
I completely understand WHY people do not evacuate, even if they have the means to do so. I do not understand why, less than a week after the storm, the lines are so long for food and water that it may take all day to receive 4 MREs and a couple of bottles. If a person chooses to remain, why aren't they prepared? This has bothered me since I first noticed the trend after Wilma in 2005. Pleople were complaining that they had to stand in line for half a day for one bottle of water, the day AFTER the storm. Why didn't they have water? Why didn't they prepare, plan? Why wait for government bail out?
Again, I know there are exceptions, the person with medication that MUST be kept refrigerated NEEDS the ice that FEMA has, but the rest of us do not. The person who does not live on a flood plain, whose house flooded, may not be able to use their bottled water and food supplies, but they should have had them to begin with.
How many people constantly complain about the government having a hand in everything they do? How many people talk the talk of a smaller national government? In my experience, these are the first ones with their hands out if life veers slightly off course.
Hurricane preparedness is not information that you are born with, or even information you pick up by osmosis, it is learned.* But a person living anywhere near the coast should have access to the needed information for free. At least it is available here: on handouts, on the radio, on the nightly news, in the newspaper. Most of the information is true and useful. Use it.
Am I being too judgemental? Should I keep my thoughts to myself? Those people have been through hell and maybe I should stay off their backs. But there are more storms in our future and we need to be able to prepare and take care of ourselves without depending on FEMA; at least for a bit.
*My first hurricane (as an adult) was tropical storm Alberto in '94. While it was a minor storm (we had had a regular thunder storm the week before with higher winds) I prepared my house in the same way that my parents had prepared our home when I was a child. I did the same things for Opal in '95 and Earl in '98. After Earl (when it appeared that Georges was headed our way) I was talking to my mom on the phone (they had moved to Memphis).
"Mom," I said, "I have done....(listing my preparation.)"
"Mom," I said, "why do I fill up the blasted bathtubs with water everytime a storm is coming? I have bottled water and I don't want to drink water out of the bathtub!"
"Ann," she said, "the water in the bathtub is for flushing your toilet if you lose water."
My mom is so smart. :-)