After Hurricane Andrew

After Hurricane Andrew

Often when I travel to other parts of the US and even around the world, people ask me about the hurricanes.  They express their fear that they might one day get caught in a hurricane.  When I tell them that I live two blocks from the ocean, something like terror crosses their face.  “Aren’t you afraid?” is always their next question.

This is a new phenomenon and one that puzzles me.  The truth is that anyone who gets caught in a bad hurricane is either stupid or extremely arrogant.  Sure there are extreme and rare cases like Andrew which was a category one storm not headed in the direction of south Florida when people went to bed and they were awaken a few hours later to a category five storm that had sped up and was crashing around them.  But the Andrews are the rare exceptions.

And when we evacuate, we leave our houses and property to the fate of the winds and rains; but it’s not any worse than what most people experience sometime during the year with tornados and floods and snow storms hit their areas.  In fact, it’s a great deal better because we can leave the island; and we have days of preparation time.

“But people don’t have any place to go,”  I’m often told.  My comeback is that there are shelters set up all over the state to accomodate people who don’t have a place to go and can’t afford a hotel. 

What isn’t often told but is true, nevertheless, in some of the more recent and serious storms, people suffered terribly in their homes, while shelters stood empty or half empty only a few miles from their residences.  Before the storm, officials begged people to leave the area.  But the people were too self-assured to leave their homes until it was too late.  Then the tax payer had to pay the bill to rescue them from their roofs.  Warning had been given hours and days before; but there were a myriad of excuses used to stay.  The bottom line was “it won’t happen to me.”  That is either stupid or arrogant.

What actually does concern me and many other people  is that some of our most vulnerable members of society were not properly cared for during the past stormy events. Advocates and families have been assured that proper precautions have been taken to provide for the needs of people who are mentally challenged and live in independent situations.  Yet it has been four years since the last big storm has hit our area.  Time causes stupidity and arrogance to grow.  The mentally challenged community is aware of the dangers; but they remain captives of a government system that sometimes doesn’t provide proper care for them during emergencies.

For those of us who work within this community, our prayer is that with this next storm (and there will be another one) proper care will be taken and the most vulnerable people  will be the most safe.  Anything other than that is either arrogance or stupidity.