Eric (datan0de) wrote,

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Breaking radio silence to rant about reactions to Sandy

My work situation seems to be slowly improving, which is starting to give me a long overdue opportunity to actually have an existence beyond doing tech support and relationship triage.

This is such an overpoweringly good change that I can't begin to express it. Unfortunately, poking my head out of the gulag of work is giving me a reminder that not all is well in the rest of the world.

Like most of the country and much of the world, I've been watching the events surrounding "Frankenstorm" Sandy with growing concern. As I type this, the death toll is at 74, and there are still fires burning, still people trapped, still people in imminent peril. As a co-worker who lived in New York City pointed out, they haven't even started draining the subway tunnels yet, and there are entire communities living in/under them. It's going to get uglier before this whole episode is over.

I grew up in central New York (state), but have lived in Florida for the last 25 years. This makes the self-righteous and heartless reaction of many of my fellow Floridians to the tragedy embarrassing as well as sad. Florida gets hit with hurricanes all the time, up to the full Category 5 of Andrew, so the people in the northeast freaking out over a subtropical storm are wusses and noobs, right?

I'd like to cordially invite any of my fellow Floridians who hold this ignorant attitude to fuck right off.

Where I've seen this attitude online, I've been responding with minor variations of the same rant. Here it is. (Apologies for not converting links into embedded images. I do still need to work):

I'm glad that the Mighty Floridians here are empowered with special knowledge that makes them impervious to large storms. It must be something intrinsically superior about you, right?

I don't know anyone in this thread, but I'm confident that most of you are usually decent people. However, since your comments here are my only window into your character, I have to say that many of you seem like callous prigs who are happy to turn a natural disaster into an opportunity to make yourselves feel somehow superior or tougher than your fellow human beings who are currently in peril. Shame on you.

As someone who grew up in New York State but has lived in Florida for the last 25 years, it pains me to see shallow, dismissive attitudes like those displayed here here directed toward the region I'm from and coming from people in my adoptive home.

You have no cause to gloat. What we deal with in Florida during hurricane season is not equivalent to what's happening in the northeast. It's not that the people there are lacking in some magical quality that allows you to shrug off a storm while they have a death toll of 74 and counting. It's that the situations are fundamentally different. Let's look at the differences.

The areas hardest hit have higher populations and higher population densities than anywhere in Florida. By a lot.

New York City is the 11th largest city on the planet and the center of the 4th largest metropolitan area. It's the largest city in the US and has the highest population density of any city in the US outside of California. If the New York Metropolitan area was its own state, it would be the 3rd largest state in the Union.

To compare this region with Florida is absurd and ignorant.

The only way to maintain a population and a population density that high is with a massive transportation and utility infrastructure. There is nothing even close anywhere south of the Mason Dixon line, and it's currently crippled. A critical part of the infrastructure is the subway system, which is currently completely flooded for the first time in over a century of operation. As I'm sure you've seen on the news, the automotive tunnels are also flooded.

NYC is right next door to New Jersey, which has the highest population density of any state in the US. The number or people without power (day 3 and counting) just in New Jersey exceeds the total populations of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii COMBINED.

In Hoboken, NJ alone, over 20,000 people were trapped by water w/sewage, fuel, & exposed electrical lines with no clean water or power. That's over a third of their total population. The rescue effort is ongoing, but I'm glad you're able to be so blasé about it. They're just noobs who can't handle a little wind and rain, right?

Looking at the storm itself, there's more to it than just peak wind speed and wave height. I've been focusing on NYC and NJ, but take a look at the size of the area impacted:
It's running from well into Canada down to north Florida. That looks to be at least twice the length of Florida to my eye.

Here's hurricane Andrew by comparison:

I'm not downplaying the significance or impact of Andrew. I know people whose families lost their homes, and a lot more people who lost power or whose homes were damaged. It was certainly a more intense storm, but it was also significantly more localized and hit far less densely populated areas with no subterranean transportation infrastructure. And I never saw anything but support and concern coming from up north about it.

I've been focusing on NY and NJ, but right now in Cleveland, OH (which is 500 miles away from NYC, roughly the entire length of Florida) a quarter of a million people have been without power since Tuesday night because of the *same* storm. I'm sure they'll be comforted to know that if they were as awesome as we are in Florida then they'd still have power.

Oh, except for the almost 4,000 families who lost power here in Florida due to Sandy.
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