For the umpteenth time in the past few weeks, I just saw someone criticize everyone in south Texas who didn't evacuate for Ike. This annoys me. I will say that it makes me crazy to see people who stay behind because "well duhurr, I'm gon' get drunk and have me a hurricane party! It's gon' be FUN!" Those people are stupid. However, for everyone else who lives in a hurricane-prone area, the decision is simply NOT that cut and dry.
4 adults and 2 children evacuated to my house for Gustav. 1 adult has been on disability since she hurt her back and 1 adult had been unemployed since her last employer screwed her over, so their respective incomes weren't especially effected by the evacuation. The other 2 adults, however, had to either take vacation days or take days off without pay for their evacuation. Seriously, it's not as simple as "I'd rather be unemployed than dead!" Because you can, and will, be unemployed for evacuating, even if the evacuation is mandatory. (Mandatory evacuation doesn't actually mean you have to leave, it just means you have to follow a curfew.) Unemployment anywhere sucks. Unemployment in the South right now sucks worse.
Also, a WHOOOOOLE lot of people couldn't afford to evacuate for Katrina. This was rectified for Gustav (free transportation out of the city), and I honestly don't know what they did in Texas for Ike, but if you can't afford to leave, you don't leave. It's not as simple as "I'd rather be in debt than dead!" Some people can't even go into debt.
I know of several people who stayed behind during Katrina and Gustav because of their families. If your 90-year-old mama doesn't want to leave and you can't make her, I guarantee you're not leaving. If your spouse doesn't want to leave, it's highly unlikely that you're going to leave. It's not as easy as "I'd rather be in a fight with my loved one than be dead!" You know your mama ain't gonna do anything she doesn't wanna do.
Finally, let's consider the evacuation options. Stay in a shelter with the noise of hundreds of other people, keeping one eye open all the time hoping someone doesn't rob you or your kid doesn't run off, or driving 16 hours in gridlock traffic to get to a town that's normally 6 hours away that has the only hotel room for another hundred miles. (It took my friend Mike 16 hours to drive from Slidell to Memphis, which usually takes about 6 hours. Took my 2 other friends 9 hours to drive here from New Orleans. It usually takes 3.) Imagine doing that every single time a hurricane threatens the city you live in, which could be a dozen times in the span of a few months. "I'd rather drive 16 hours or stay in a fetid shelter than be dead!" Well la di da.
(Let's examine, for a moment, the claim that you will die if you don't evacuate. It's unlikely. More than likely, you'll be without power and fresh food and clean water.)
If you take all of these factors, and more, into consideration, then add the fact that so many hurricanes have barreled toward X city on the coast then turned at the last minute, I hope you can understand why so many people don't evacuate.
If it hasn't gotten into your stubborn head, please read this post by my friend Regan, who evacuated during Katrina and went back to a destroyed home.
I wish everyone could evacuate when a hurricane heads their way, and I was happy as a clam to have everyone at my house during Gustav. Maybe in the future, bosses will be more understanding and teleportation will be possible. Till then, it's just not plausible that everyone will evacuate. So stop acting better than those who choose not to. Dig it?
1 hour ago