Why Didn’t They Leave

Blowing out with the remnants of the once and future Hurricane Ernesto, was this week’s “Katrina-fest.” Amid the 20 ga-zillion stories [a Google News search pulls 56,000 Web stories this week. and that doesn’t include radio and TV like the CNN-FOX-MSNBC gaggle] was alot of talk about people who didn’t evacuate. Folks left behind. And some commentators, around the water-cooler for example, blame the people who stayed. That doesn’t seem right, though. Let’s think about why some people stayed.

Well, some people didn’t have a place to go–cost of going someplace, wherewithal. Frankly, I could easily pack up the kids, dog and spouse and head off with a credit card to the Holiday Inn.

Some people didn’t have a way to get there. There were problems with public transportation, no transportation. Again, me and my VISA resolves all such issues.

But here’s an obvious thing that hasn’t gotten much attention. Some people didn’t believe it would actually happen. “It” being the worst case scenario.

“Well,” you say, “some people are just stupid.”

I say, then, most of us are stupid.

How many of you think that you will in a car accident on your way to work tomorrow? As you are fiddling with your coffee in one hand, changing radio stations, shaving, putting on makeup, talking on your phone, reading your Blackberry while you drive?

Here’s another one. How many are actually prepared for a disaster? Have fresh water for 3 days, food stuff, family emergency plan. Time Magazine reports that only 16%–yup like less than 2 houses on my block–are “well prepared” for an emergency. These are post-Katrina numbers.

Who wants to think about bad things? Who wants to take their minds to the place where the unthinkable happens. OF COURSE, we want to keep our families safe. But we can’t stand to imagine the worst case. So we do our personal risk management assessment and figure, it’s highly unlikely to happen to me.

Folks that didn’t leave New Orleans couldn’t believe that the worst would happen. They aren’t stupid. They are just human. It hurts too much to be prepared.

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