I remember eating a continental breakfast at a hotel in Seattle around this time last year. I’d been in the US for almost two weeks, Audra and I were in the first days of our honeymoon, and the Pacific Northwest was living up to the lofty standards I had formed in my dreams.
That morning, the TV screens in the hotel breakfast bar were plastered with footage from Hurricane Irma. It was one of those moments that made me realise that America is an entirely different country. This reads like a fairly idiotic comment, I should explain.
I always knew I was moving to a different society, one made up of largely the same language but with different people, places and climates, but seeing such natural destruction on screen with the knowledge that it’s taking place within the borders of your new home — it was a fresh kind of shock.
Granted, I live in land-locked Colorado and we were honeymooning by taking a tour of the Pacific Northwest. So a tropical storm is hardly a danger to me personally, but my empathy levels tend to go haywire during times of mass tragedy.
The reality-blurs of stepping off the plane and onto American soil had warn-off before the honeymoon, and I’d settled into the pocket of existence I’d been working towards for over two years. A new excitement hit me as we arrived in Seattle, but it was more comparable to the feeling you get when you arrive at your holiday destination; It’s your actuality for now, but you’ll need to give it back soon enough.
I had been comfortable for a couple of weeks, and so seeing the destruction on screen, reported by the American news from American soil, really shook me.
As Hurricane Florence threatens to cause destruction over the next few days, I can’t help but wonder if this is all just business as usual for the East coast — That I’m overreacting by letting myself go sleepless at the thought of the sudden loss of life at the hands of the elements. It could be that the people who’re used to hurricanes are just more resilient and made of tougher stuff than my sensitive soul, one that has never experienced anything more than a heavy thunder-storm.
It appears as though everyone is taking the precautions needed, to the best of their abilities. Families are heading into hurricane shelters or moving out of the path of the storm. Stores have been picked-clean of the bare essentials. There’s probably some kind of irony involved in a disaster that’ll drop millions of gallons of water from the sky, leading to stores selling out of bottled water — but it’s forced and messy, like this whole sentence has been.
Hurricane Irma resulted in at least 134 deaths, with 92 being from the United States. But they had so much time to prepare, the storm warnings had been in place for a week, isn’t that enough time to escape the path of the hurricane? This was a question I asked myself as the death toll was announced.
Well, the reality of it is that some people can’t afford to get away. They might not have friends or family who can help them evacuate, especially if they’re older and less able to move. Some people even found themselves in situations where the loss of their physical home would mean they were as good as dead, as it was all they had left.
I remember seeing an interview with an older woman who said she was staying where she was, in her home; That she’d faced storms before, and she’d face them again. There was never an update on whether she survived, and the cynic in me wants to call her foolish and idiotic for making that decision in the first place. But there was a resiliency to her words, a defiance, and who am I to question how another person gambles with their own life?
This time around, most people in the Carolinas and Virginia appear to be evacuating, as a hurricane in this part of the country is rarer than in Florida or along the South coast.
There’s a story floating around this morning about the Trump administration diverting $10million of funds from FEMA to ICE, and there are enough sources (including a memo) to say that this is true. However, FEMA say that they’re fully financially equipped to deal with the fallout of this “once in a lifetime” storm, and the FEMA representative answered any questions about the memo with sincerity and assuredness of their preparedness.
I’m all for highlighting the evils of the Trump administration, but this is a shift of finance that would’ve happened this summer regardless of whether or not a hurricane was about to hit the East coast. This administration carries out enough twisted and repulsive actions without needing to distort the truth in order to make them appear worse.
Most of the headlines read as though Trump personally took money from the Hurricane Florence relief pot, in order to lock children up in cages. While evidence suggests that he and his administration care more about detaining and deporting illegal immigrants than protecting Americas own children, this is not one of those times.
While this story isn’t false, it is a conveniently timed truth, and the media needs to be better than that, as stories like this only fuel the opinions of the right, that they’re bias. Trump can be defeated with cold, hard facts — timed truths and linked stories are unnecessary.
My thoughts this week are with anyone who is effected by Hurricane Florence. My heart is heavy and I hope that the relief efforts are swift, and that FEMA is as prepared as it possibly can be.
To those who believe that legalising gay marriage has caused this hurricane; Consider taking a trip to the Carolinas this Friday, I’m certain God will protect you. I had to be cynical about something this morning, and the fundamentalists are just such an easy target.
I love that everything is bigger, brighter and bolder in America — But I wish nobody had told the weather.
Today is Wednesday, September 12th and if I don’t win something in our fantasy WWE league this weekend I’m going to…do nothing probably.
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