Tags: Being | Disaster | Denier

Being a Disaster Denier

Tuesday, 30 August 2005 12:00 AM

But you can take solace in the folly of reason, not to mention the fact that it's clearly better to live here than New Orleans, or Miami, or Biloxi. The lesson of storms like this has more to do with denial than preparation. They give you one more reason to pretend your own Pompei is sturdier than it is.

The difference, I would always tell people seeking to soothe my newcomer's earthquake fears, was that hurricanes bring warnings. You can get home to your kids. People can evacuate. Or at least, some people can.

The warning system, as we have seen, is imperfect, and the chances of surviving hurricane-force winds should they hit depends on a lot of the same things that determine whether structures will survive earthquake damage: whether they were cheaply built, or not; whether, if the structures are old, they were properly retrofitted and reinforced – all of which will, shockingly enough, end up having at least something to do with the wealth of the people inside them, which will turn out to correlate with the race of the people involved.

We know that. That's part of the drill here. Was the place built to code? Did you get your house bolted? Do you have your gym shoes in your trunk (so you can walk home on top of the broken glass)? Everyone in California is supposed to have a kit in their car and one in their home, so they can get along for a few days if it is difficult to reach them or provide supplies. I remember the last big earthquake; we barbecued bagels in the backyard.

When my children were young, I worried terribly about being apart from them if an earthquake hit and their not being able to understand what was happening. They have been having earthquake drills since nursery school, when they made these heartbreaking earthquake boxes of special things to have if we were separated.

Time passes. You survive earthquakes. It snows back east. It's 70 and sunny here. There are hurricanes back east. It's 80 and sunny here. Medium-sized ones hit other places. You realize how large California is, how far away some of these places they talk about are, how unlikely it really is ...

My children are now teenagers. They don't have earthquake boxes, they have their own cell phones – and I don't think about earthquakes anymore, except when I see pictures of hurricanes, and think of earthquakes as tame by comparison.

I have entered the vast wasteland of disaster deniers, and I am using another disaster to make me feel better about the potential of facing one here. There is no particular reason that I know of that it should, but this is not about reason – not at all. Quite the contrary.

COPYRIGHT 2005 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

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But you can take solace in the folly of reason, not to mention the fact that it's clearly better to live here than New Orleans, or Miami, or Biloxi. The lesson of storms like this has more to do with denial than preparation. They give you one more reason to pretend your own...
Being,Disaster,Denier
474
2005-00-30
Tuesday, 30 August 2005 12:00 AM
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