Gustav, Mass Panic, Money, and Gas!

Gustav was more than a gust, but not quite a Katrina. Not even close. Still, there is damage and there are an awful lot of people who have had their lives interrupted by this storm. It was a serious weather event. I’m grateful (as are many others) for the repeated prayers of those around the country for the dissipation of the storm. It certainly weakened and was not nearly as strong as they predicted. Which has me thinking tonight…

Is anything served by super-hyping a storm as I believe was done in this case? Mayor Ray Nagin called this the ‘mother of all storms‘. Dr. Jeff Masters, one of my favorite meteorological bloggers (ok, the only one) had a graphic of Hurricane Betsy and made some pretty strong statements about the need to flee New Orleans.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have evacuated… I think everyone that did was wise.

But I wonder if a medium sized storm like Gustav could be used to hype the public into a panic, run endless exaggerated reports (as did The Weather Channel), then what becomes of the public’s perception when another Katrina roars ashore?

The news channels also excitedly proclaimed how massively powerful the storm was. Ratings, I suppose, plays a role in this. We like the drama.

Maybe I’m guilty of making too little of it while criticizing the information media for making too much of it. I’ll admit that possibility.

But it all leaves me with questions…

Do we have to convince the public that each storm is another Katrina in order to motivate them to evacuate dangerous areas? I’m not denying that possibility.

Since the government (at all levels) was so inept in the initial response to Katrina, were they overplaying their hand in order to try to make up for it this time?

Was it of practical value for anyone that the Republican National Convention was basically postponed … or was it simply an appearance of concern? I think the rest of the government / country continued on as they had planned. I’m just asking questions here!

Do state and local governments have something financial to gain by declaring a state of emergency?

Why does the cost of gas go up and down with these weather threats… when it is the same physical gas in the gas station tanks? How can it’s cost go up and down as it sits there underground?

Again, I’m very sympathetic… empathetic even … with those who have suffered damage, are sitting in a shelter, had no power this evening, or who may have lost loved ones. I know that there was financial loss as people evacuated – at an unexpected cost. I’m not questioning the wisdom of evacuation from any hurricane. Our family has evacuated for most of them when we lived on the Coast. Our church is active in providing some support through deacon Ken Dorsey and the Northeast Louisiana Food Bank. We’ll likely be involved further in other ways.

My questions and thoughts tonight aren’t about the general public and our struggle against the elements. But I’m thinking about the public media … the government … the dollar to be made off of a natural disaster … and our how it seems we need to be dramatized and traumatized into action.

And hey, I’ve already heard how awful Hurricane Ike is going to be!

Check out Danny Dodd’s thoughts along the same line.

Your thoughts are welcomed! If I’m off-base, give it to me!

Thanks for reading,

John

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Helpful Links for Hurricane Gustav Response

Red Cross Seeks Volunteers, Donations

Louisiana Emergency Headlines

National Hurricane Center

Weather Underground’s Tropical Weather

Dr. Jeff Master’s Tropical Weather Blog

Volunteer to Staff United Way’s 2-1-1 call service

United Way’s Website of Links For Helping Others

Office of Governor Bobby Jindal

Whites Ferry Road Gustav Response

Church of Christ Disaster Relief

Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team

Convoy of Hope deploys to help Gustav victims.

Lutheran Social Services prepares to go into action.

Episcopal Disaster Response.

Operation Blessing.

Salvation Army prepares for Gustav.

FEMA

More info from readers is welcomed.

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