|Friday, September 17, 1999||
Volume 65, Issue 19
Whitlock on Defense
Ed De La Garza
There are three rules for severe weather watching --
Rule No. 1: Forces of nature are unpredictable. Hurricane Floyd looks like it's going to ravage Florida, but no. It skims north and seems on the verge of attacking our nation's capitol. Well, who could blame it?
Rule No. 2: Catastrophes come in pairs. Look out past the Gulf of Mexico. See that little swirly thing, way out there? OK. Get on the Web and look up a weather map. See it now? That's Gert. It's gathering speed, and guess what else? It's headed straight for us!
Pack your things and stock up on batteries. We're about to get thrashed. We know that the weather reports will assure that there's no reason for alarm, but trust us. We're in for it this time, and no one's going to lift a finger until it's on top of us.
Rule No. 3: If a hurricane enters the Gulf (and not before), the media in Texas drops everything and starts with the Emergency Broadcast System tests and the emergency preparedness brochures. Overnight, novice hurricane trackers ransack department stores, and thumbtack sales triple.
Funny, isn't it, that people decide to panic in the zero hour when they could have anticipated an emergency if they'd been paying attention?
Before the national guard starts toting in the sandbags to fix Galveston's seawall, let's be clear. People die in natural disasters. In fact, they probably deserve more of our attention than any random, trench coat-clad gunman out there.
It is tragic when a violent loon kills 20 or 30 people before he's stopped. But when a class five hurricane comes barreling up through the Gulf, you're looking at deaths in the hundreds. And homicidal maniacs don't have a tendency to pick up cars or rip off rooftops, though they might injure themselves trying.
Now, look back over at Gert. There she sits in the Atlantic, playing innocent. Just wait. Bet nobody says word one about her until she swallows Jamaica.