Why people don’t take evacuations seriously
We see it every time there's a looming disaster. Voluntary evacuations can turn to mandatory evacuations and still there are some who choose to stay. We saw it here in New Jersey when Superstorm Sandy tore through our state damaging or destroying 365,000 homes. 40 people died. On Tuesday's show we took calls about approaching Hurricane Florence and the evacuations in the Carolinas. Several people called in who chose to ignore similar warnings under Sandy in 2012 and rode it out. One caller spoke of their living room quite suddenly filling with 5 feet of water, furniture floating, as they scrambled for survival up to the second level.
So why do people stay? There's no one answer. For some it's as simple as not believing the storm advisories. How many times have we been told of a killer snowstorm that fizzles or a tropical storm warning that has us cancel travel plans only to turn into a sunny day? So one reason is doubt. Doubt in the science. Doubt in the ethics of those forecasting, suspecting they put hype over helpfulness.
Another reason might simply be the thrill seekers. Probably the smallest group of all, but we do see this with any major storm. There are those who will drive to the beach and stand on a rocky jetty just to take in the fury of the Atlantic.
Then there are those who fear burglars and looters more than the natural disaster itself. They feel if they leave their homes they won't be allowed to return for days or weeks, leaving their belongings vulnerable. They'd rather tough out the storm and risk their lives to protect whatever they have left from thugs.
For many, it's the notion that somehow they're presence inside the home will keep it safe. They reason that if they're there, they can shore up a window that's giving way, throw on more sandbags as need be, or somehow magically will the water and wind away. It's a ridiculous idea of course, but some folks feel so attached to their things that for them their house is part of them.
For all the mandatory evacuations there will always be those who don't listen. The ethical question becomes when to risk the lives of first responders to rescue them vs. when to call off rendering aid. My opinion on this is once the threat becomes an unreasonable one to police, firefighters, EMTs and rescue workers then no rescue should be attempted. These people were warned and need to be left on their own. If they're in violation of a mandatory evacuation you have to wonder if they even should be charged for their eventual rescue, once conditions are safe enough.
New Jersey looks like it will be spared any harm from Florence. But more hurricane seasons will come. Another Sandy will come. When it does, pretty please, get the hell off the beach!
More from New Jersey 101.5