Alright, this is about as callous as I get. Bear with me.

I’ve been looking at some photos of the property damage done by hurricane Charley. Roofs torn off, whole neighborhoods practically flattened, boats and small planes destroyed. I’ve also been hearing the stories of people sweltering in the August heat without power for their air conditioners, and lacking basic necessities like clean water. And vying with the sense of tragedy in my mind was another feeling: disgust for the idiocy of the property owners.

Terrible, I know. But hear me out. When this country was first settled, I can’t imagine the homesteaders siting and building a new house without careful consideration of the nearby topology, local weather patterns, prevailing winds, etc. They understood that if you didn’t respect nature, she would kill you without a second thought.

These days, in the “tamed” United States, people seem to have the idea that they can settle down anywhere they fancy, in the flimsiest of structures, and expect to be perfectly safe. Water, power, and sewers are so ubiquitous as to be taken for granted. And nature’s inconveniences can always be circumvented – wetlands can be drained, rivers diverted.

And then we’re all shocked and horrified when nature casually devastates a few thousand lives.

Look, it’s gutwrenching to see some of those images, but come on, people. Unlike in the third world, we actually have the means to more or less live where we choose. These people chose to live in Florida, of all places. This is a state that nature practically put a big “Fuck Off” sign on. It’s hot as hell, only with higher humidity. It’s infested with giant disease-wridden belligerent insects. It’s damp, smelly, moldy, and much of it is at or below sea-level. It’s right in the path of hurricanes and tropical storms every freaking year. Not to mention there are fucking dinosaurs wandering around looking for unwary snacks. And yet they chose to live there. In trailor homes.

Yeah, I know, not everyone can afford a big house of there own. They could have gotten apartments in sturdier buildings. Or bought trailors somewhere where mom nature isn’t actively looking for an excuse to kill you. But no. My guess? They never gave a second thought to environmental considerations when they were deciding where to live. It was close to the job, or close to the right school, and it was in Florida, which some people seem to think is the fucking Garden of Eden, god knows why. And that was enough for them.

My ire isn’t directed solely at Floridians. I feel the same about people who settle in flood plains, or on fault lines, or in wildfire-prone areas, or right at the edge of a bay. Everyone who builds a house at the backside of nowhere and fails to take adequate precautions for when the power goes out for an extended period of time. Everyone who would find themselves without basic necessities or access to medical help if the snowplows failed to dig them out the day after a blizzard.

Nature hasn’t rolled over and become a pussy in the last couple hundred years. She’s still the biggest bitch on the block, and she doesn’t give a shit about your suburban dream. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that some places are more dangerous to live than others, and that if you must live there, it behooves you to take certain precautions. Like maybe getting a house made out of something heavier than toothpicks. Like investing in a generator, or a gas stove, or a snowmobile. Yeah, Uncle Sam will probably bail your moron ass out even if you don’t, but wouldn’t it be nice to avoid having your life turned upside-down in the first place?

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  1. ahhhh yes…….well said. I agree completly.

  2. It continues to amaze me when people say, “Ah, Florida!” with stars in their eyes and then look at me like I’m nuts when I tell them if I never go back it’ll be too soon.

  3. Everything you just said


  4. so true. i say again, ppl are fucking stupid.

  5. having lived in florida over a decade

    People don’t always ‘choose’ where to live, plenty of poor people in florida have few options other than remaining in the same area and homes already there.

    as for the path of desctruction – there is a reason, bizarrely enough, that such areas got settled in florida. if you come to a swampy boggy tree and bush covered area, the easiest place to build a road or a house is… you guessed it, the area nature cleared for you during a storm. check the path of I-75 and then check the weather line – virtually identical.

    unless uncle sam is planning to tear down and rebuild better houses, i dont really see what the people could have done within their means. MANY of them were prepared, but those aren’t the ones that get shown on TV, better ratings of the ones who got it worst. and why not be annoyed with the builders who made the crap houses, or the legislators who allowed the builders to build crap houses, instead of a bunch of poor people for being ‘stupid’ enough to buy them? businesses got torn up too, but i guess you figure the stupid bankers and grocery store owners should have known better than to build a branch in most florida cities?

    1. Re: having lived in florida over a decade

      If you want me to blame someone other than the homeowners, I suppose I could blame their stupid ancestors who moved there in the first place. What were they thinking?

      And frankly, after watching assorted dirt-poor friends move around the country, I simply don’t buy that they had little choice.

      I don’t care about the bankers and business owners. Shit happens in business, but business shit generally doesn’t leave your kids huddled in an emergency shelter. They actually had a half-reasonable reason to set up shop there: catering to the market created by the idiots living there. They’re insured, they’ll rebuild. Whatever.

      Builders? They built what they were paid for. You can’t build a bunker on a trailer budget.

      Legislators? Heh. Good luck ever getting me to be upset at government for failing to protect people from their own stupidity. I thought you knew me better by now… 😉

      1. Re: having lived in florida over a decade

        And frankly, after watching assorted dirt-poor friends move around the country, I simply don’t buy that they had little choice. Ok, please tell me how many “dirt-poor” friends you have with no education above grade school, 4 kids, a job they can only even hold down because their family in town helps watch the four kids and/or a family whose farm or business needs them there, never in their life been more than half an hour away, never touched a computer, no well-off family or friends elsewhere to fall back on – who have just up and moved all around the frigging country?

        They’re insured, they’ll rebuild. Whatever ok so you aren’t actually annoyed at the stupidity of poor building structures – its ok as long as they have insurance out the ass. its only offensive to you if those accursed poor people complain.

        I thought you knew me better by now I think I do, and overall, I haven’t lost faith in that in most areas. but I will admit, for all the times you have thought I was wrought up and offended by something and I truly wasn’t – this disgusts me. For someone who essentially has no idea what is it NOT to be priveleged in comparison to sit around and mock the idiocy of the poor is nothing new – but from you, its a surprise. and not a pleasant one.

        1. Re: having lived in florida over a decade

          The irony in all this is that you are the one, more than me, to associate poor with stupid in this discussion. The photos I looked at were of trailer parks (including a lot of double-wides) at the very lowest end, and large, nice-looking houses at the very best. Which would put all of the owners at a level of income higher than the country-trotting friends I had in mind. I realize you didn’t see the pictures I saw. But you really have seem to have latched onto the idea that these people I’m talking about must have had no other choice. It’s almost like you expect that if I’m ranting at someone for being stupid, they must be poor.

        2. Re: having lived in florida over a decade

          its ok as long as they have insurance out the ass. its only offensive to you if those accursed poor people complain

          I’m impressed. You actually managed to turn my not giving a shit about the business owners (as in: oh well, sucks to be them) into me being offended by “accursed poor people”. Get this through your head: I don’t hate the poor. They don’t offend me. I don’t wish them cursed. I am annoyed by stupidity, at all strata of sociey. I am open to the possibility that a few people hurt by this storm may have had little choice. I don’t believe those are in the majority.

          I am offended by your contuuing and baseless assumptions about my attitude towards the poor.

  6. Ah ha! I think I see “Darth Avdi”-

  7. Hurricanes plague most of the coastal Eastern US, from New England to the Florida Keys. Blizzards affect much of the nation. Tornadoes hit the mid-Atlantic states and the Midwest. Earthquakes cause devastation on much of the West Coast. Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, as well as Hawaii, are at risk of volcanic eruptions.

    I live in central Florida. I love it. I like the heat, I like the humidity. I love the tropics. The eye of Charley passed right over my home. It was scary. But then I’ve been in many earthquakes in California, including at least one 7.0 quake; a volcanic eruption in Alaska; blizzards and tornadoes in Illinois; blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, and nor’easters in Virginia; and ice storms and torrential rains leading to flooding in Washington state. Florida is no more or less habitable than any of the other states I’ve lived in, and people die as a result of extreme weather all over North America. North America is really no more or less prone to extreme weather or geological conditions than other continents, either.

    Are people who live in California stupid? Are folks in the Midwest morons? Are people caught in blizzards and ice storms idiots? People in the Carolinas are mouth-breathers? Is Virginia, which just suffered a plague of locusts, blizzards, and a hurricane all in the space of a year, populated exclusively by slack-jawed yokels? People who live in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, an active volcano–they’re cretins? Where should we then live? There’s risk everywhere.

    1. I was born in DeLand, FL (outside Daytona). From birth to age 2 I lived in Ft. Pierce, FL and assorted other areas in FL. From age 2 to 18 I lived in Tampa. From 18-20 I lived in Lutz. 20-25 lived in Brandon. 25-26, Tampa & Lutz. At 26 bought a house in Dade City (Pasco county). At 28, I finally had a reason to get the hell out of that God-forsaken state. I married a Marylander – not because he was a Marylander, but that he lived outside FL was awfully convenient!

      I hate the heat. I hate the humidity. I’m like an Andorian in the heat! I swear to this day God made a mistake placing me with a Florida-loving/living family.

      People who live in CA aren’t stupid, I think they are misguided. People who live in FL, I happen to know from experience they are stupid. (<-tongue firmly in cheek.)

      People caught in blizzards and ice storms…. Well… Okay. I confess I haven’t experienced what people keep telling me is a “real” ice storm or blizzard, but everytime the news warns of a “snow storm” and it actually happens… I have to laugh. “That’s a storm?” I ask.

      You see, having grown up in FL, I understand a storm to be a loud, raucous, violent, turbulent, torrential-downpour, frightening thing. The snow storms I’ve experienced are anything but! A snow storm is calming, soothing, pretty. Ice storms are too. But then you’ve got to be prepared for the possibility of the electric going out.

      Oh, and people who build, or choose to live in, flat-roof houses where they have snow storms, blizzard and ice storms are stupid. Same for areas where it rains a lot. No-, or low-pitch rooves are just a dumb idea.

      The point here, in what Avdi’s saying, isn’t simply that people shouldn’t live where they know there are natural disasters. The point here is that people who live where there are natural disasters and aren’t prepared for them when they come are a few cards short. Either be prepared to face disaster, or be emotionally prepared for not being prepared for disaster.

      1. Charley was different, though. I live in Orlando, and until noon the day Charley made landfall, the National Weather Service kept telling us that Charley would hit Tampa/St. Pete and then turn North. Thousands of Tampa residents came down I4 to Orlando. At noon, they said “Whoops,” and changed the forecast. The later forecast was correct. I didn’t know until four hours before the storm started that Orlando would take a direct hit. I had bottled water, flashlights, batteries, a radio, candles, Power Bars, and a fire extinguisher on hand. I filled a cooler with ice, and the bathtub with water. There wasn’t time to open shelters, and it wasn’t safe to travel once the storm started. On TV and radio, the authorities kept telling people to shelter in place.

        There simply wasn’t time to prepare more than having the basic hurricane kit on hand. Charley was much worse in terms of human and property loss than it would’ve been had there been adequate warning. There wasn’t time to board up windows, remove belongings, and to find a place to go, or for the utility companies to have repair crews in place and ready to go.

        You just can’t know where a hurricane is going to go, and there’s really no place along the coast or within 100 miles inland or so that’s safe.

        1. You just can’t know where a hurricane is going to go, and there’s really no place along the coast or within 100 miles inland or so that’s safe.

          Thank you.

          geez I guess avdi figures the poor should just all up and move out of florida entirely and leave it for them smart rich people who can afford insurance and room-sized generators. Of course, then to avoid those storms in florida they’d be moving someplace colder which is also stupid for a poor person to do, since it causes more illness/death, and higher housing costs. where exactly in the country do you figure they should move to to be safe from all natural disasters so they don’t annoy you by having their homes and lives destroyed?

          1. The thing that offends me about the post is that I have seen people here bear hardship (and yes, going without power or water for a week is a hardship) with great grace and patience. I’ve seen neighbors help each other. I saw a lady get out of her car to hug a utility crew that was taking a break from taking a fallen tree off a power line. People who do have power are lending their laundry rooms, showers, food, grills, air conditioning to people without power. Someone in my neighborhood did ice collection–everyone dumped the contents of their ice trays into her cooler, and she took it to people who really needed it.

            Hurricanes aren’t frequent events, and Florida doesn’t have any other scary weather to speak of. People are prepared, and they have worked hard to help each other. They don’t deserve to be demeaned, and I will object when they are.

          2. nod – part of what i tried to addres in the later entry was the incredible degree to which floridians help each other, and people from other states, during disasters.

          3. You have a choice. If it offends you, don’t read it.

          4. Hurricanes aren’t frequent events, and Florida doesn’t have any other scary weather to speak of.


          5. You’ll note that I’m not – or wasn’t, until you turned up, whoever you are – talking to hurrican survivors. Nor would I say these things to their faces at a time like this. There is a time for sympathy, and a time for analysis. Since I’m not talking to people who are currently in the process of putting their lives back together, I’m indulging in analysis.

          6. No. I can’t speak for him, but I think Avdi expects the po’ folks to at least scrounge what they can for supplies and hunker down and expect the worst. After all, it is Florida where they choose to continue to live.

            Florida, where “ there’s really no place along the coast or within 100 miles inland or so that’s safe.

          7. Yes, Florida, and the Carolinas, and much of Coastal Virginia. And coastal areas of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Plus the islands of the Carribean, Cuba, much of Central America and Mexico.

        2. Actually, what the NOAA NHC and the Weather Channel were saying were two different things. NOAA NHC was saying from the start that Fort Myers/surrounding areas could get hit.

          The local officals just didn’t pay that much attention because of the hype on the media, from what I can tell.

          But, I’m not in Flordia (and don’t want to be), so take my opinion with a grain of, um, salt. Yeah.

          1. The NHC had a “strike zone” that encompassed most of the Gulf Coast. In the strike zone, you may get rain and wind, but it’s not a direct strike, it’s just a storm. It’s like a thunderstorm warning. Local forecasters were more accurate, earlier, but government operates on forecasts from the NHC and NWS. So by the time the NHC was saying Punta Gorda, it was too late to open shelters.

        3. This is what comes of relying on the authorites for a sense of safety. You’ve done more to emphasize my point in this post than anyone else has. If you’re OK with the danger of living where you are, fine. More power to you. But don’t blame the danger on lack of warning. You have hundreds of years of recorded history to tell you the dangers of where you live. And you know, now if not before, that despite advances in technology, weather prediction is still an unreliable art.

          Some areas are simply more dangerous than others. Sometimes that area is measured in acres, but sometimes it’s measured in thousands of square miles. If the perks are worth the risks to you, great. But don’t try to tell me that things are equally risky all over. Because that’s demonstrably untrue.

          1. i have lived thru earthquakes and brushfires in CA, i have lived thru blizzards and ice storms in the mountains of CO, and i have lived in a couple states that are in the prime paths of hurricanes and tropical storms. hurricanes suck…or would it be blow?;) the military chose where we lived. yes sometimes where u live cannot be easily changed for many reasons. but if u know the risks, it is UR responsibility to be prepared to deal with them.

          2. Didn’t you say that you live in Maryland? And didn’t Maryland get hit by Hurricane Isabel last fall? The last time a hurricane hit Central Florida before last week was Hurricane Donna, in 1960. I believe the DC metro area also had several snow storms that closed businesses and left people stuck at home for several days last winter, and I’d be surprised if there weren’t at least a few tornadoes over the summer.

            Most people were prepared–they had water, radios, batteries, flashlights–all the things you’re supposed to have. Less than 20 people died in the storm, even without adequate warning, which means that folks were pretty well prepared.

            I lived in Northern Virginia for ten years. If you’re arguing that folks there are better prepared than folks here…well, I must have imagined all those mad riots at the grocery stores when Bob Ryan predicted a few inches of snow.

          3. No. I live in PA. Same difference though. And if you are comparing any of the above events to what just happened in FL, and which apparently happens with some frequency down there, you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. My god, snow storms that close businesses for whole days? A couple of small, freak tornadoes per year? The horror! It’s telling that the worst hurricane in recent memory (Isabel) did primarily cosmetic damage around here.

            f you’re arguing that folks there are better prepared than folks here

            Where the hell did you get that idea? Morons abound wherever one goes.

          4. This is what comes of relying on the authorites for a sense of safety. You’ve done more to emphasize my point in this post than anyone else has. If you’re OK with the danger of living where you are, fine. More power to you. But don’t blame the danger on lack of warning.

            Did you feel this way about the people who died in the WTC? They made a conscious choice to spend 1/3 of their waking hours in a building that had already been a terrorist target in 1993. They knew there was risk. They relied on the government to keep them safe, and the government failed and they died. Was that their own fault?

            Risk does not come solely from weather. I could go live in NYC and have a much lower risk of hurricane, but I’d have a higher risk for terrorism, violent crime, etc. However, if I was a victim of a terrorist attack, I’d be surprised if folks said “Well, she deserved it, living in an urban area and all. What a dope!”

          5. You still haven’t caught on to the line I’ve drawn between predictable natural events which have happened over and over, and transient, uncommon events which give us no clear means of prediction. Nobody can be expected to predict a terrorist attack, even though the chances are some of us will be affected by one in the next few years. There’s a level of risk below which it’s just not worth worrying about. Even living in Kansas, so long as you have a sturdy storm cellar, is below this level of acceptable risk I’d say – despite the much-hyped danger of tornadoes, the actual ratio of area affected by them to total land area is so low as to make it highly unlikely that you’ll ever be affected. I don’t see living in a hurricane-prone area to be at an equivalent level of risk.

          6. But I chose where I live, precisely because we weren’t hit by hurricanes over and over–there was Donna in 1960, another hurricane in 1920, and now Charley. Every forty years does not equal “over and over.” Tampa hasn’t been hit since the turn of the 20th century. The outer banks of North Carolina, for example, is far more hurricane prone.

            And I don’t see a meaningful distinction between risk from natural events and risk from unnatural events. If you live in a city, you are at higher risk of violent crime than if you lived in an urban area. I think it’s wrong to excoriate someone for accepting the risk of natural disasters that occur infrequently and then believe that those who choose to live in places that have higher human-caused risk (from crime, or terrorism, or traffic) are blameless.

            It doesn’t make sense. Risk is risk.

          7. 1. I said nothing about crime. You can call the police dept. in most areas and ask them for the crime rate in any given neighborhood. You can’t ask for the “terrorism rate”.

            2. I’m not attacking anyone for “accepting risk”. I accept the risks where I live. I might be willing to accept substantially greater risks if the rewards offset them sufficiently. I’m talking about people who fail to learn the risks, or simply ignore them.

  8. I’m so there with you…

    Sorry.. been outta town for a while…

    My take on the Hurricane would be..
    “hell.. you knew that hurricanes could happen where you live.. so if they do.. expect it to suck ass..”

    I know that I live in Wisconsin–where the winters suck ass and people can freeze to death…

    I choose to live here.. so I have to put up with it.. if it really bothered me.. I would move.. (and I’m not rich.. I make around $1200 a month when times are good… 🙂 )

    Personally.. as an act of charity, we can always try to help these people.. its what the notion of “community” means when taken at a national level..

    But… charity can only go so far and these people need to face up to the fact that they are living in a dangerous climate.. And I don’t feel tremendously obligated to subsidize their ability to live in an area through governmental aid etc etc, especially considering that I’ve never seen the reverse situation that floridians were asked to provide governmental aid to the upper midwest when extreme winters hit us….

    Everyone should understand the fucking risks that their location entails.. if they don’t know them. they are under the obligation to learn them…
    not us..

    1. Re: I’m so there with you…

      ah yes. it’s similar to a couple years back when i was in line at the grocery store behind a woman who had 5 kids with her and was pregnant. she was doling out her WIC dollars and having issues cuz the WIC dollars weren’t for what she had. i can understand one kid…hell, even two, that are “oopsies”. but 5 fucking kids and being pregnant again…and ur getting aid cuz u were too fucking stupid to keep ur legs shut or use a goddamn condom?? um, no.

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