Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Katrina 100: 019 What's in a name?

It's important to note that you shouldn't be surprised or aggrieved to learn that the horrible aftermath of Katrina was caused by failures at all levels. If I lean hard on the Federal Government, well--that's who I pay. And I pay them well enough to know that they have the means and the wherewithal to attempt to immunize themselves from blame. But blame needs to be layed at many feet. And perhaps no one was more culpable in the Katrina situation than the National Weather Service.

What does the National Weather Service have to do with anything? They provide us with up to the minute information, sure. And they issue warnings that rarely leave any room for doubt. But they are the cause of a far more insidious problem when it comes to hurricanes. The names they give them simply do not properly prime us for the terrible threat they pose.

When Hurricane Isabel came ashore here a few years ago, I openly mocked it, and Isabel dropped a 250-year-old tree on my car. Now, was I aware on some level that the hurricane could do this? Sure I was. But I mocked anyway, and who could blame me? The only Isabel I ever knew was the moody, vaguely goth younger sister of a high school friend. Could she occasionally annoy? Sure. Did she prompt the odd argument? No doubt. Were there times that Isabel was irrational? Of course. But drop a tree on my car? Sorry, no sir.

We want to fear these storms. We really do. But I'll be damned if I run from Hurricane Florence. I already have had the experience of being in a mandatory evacuation over a Hurricane named Bob. I didn't want to evacuate. I felt like a grade-A pussy running from someone named Bob. I still feel that way.

So, is it any wonder that thousands of people stayed in harm's way, determined to ride out Katrina? Of course it isn't. As a people, we aren't afraid of Katrinas. Katrina does not terrify. Katrina does not even inspire worry. Katrina was that girl you knew junior year. She wasn't one of your best friends, but, yeah, you exchanged Christmas cards and shit because she was a nice girl, always smiling, and she loved animals and hanging out but that you always sort of vaguely felt sorry for because you always suspected her boyfriend John was sneaking around with the mouthy brunette on the yearbook staff in the fluffy sweaters and even if he wasn't getting his dick sucked on the side by her always rather callously seemed to prefer giving his passenger seat to his dumb friend Ed whose head seemed vaguely shaped like a crushed tin can which made it so Katrina had to ride in the backseat with the empty soda bottles and cracked Def Leppard cassettes.

See what I mean? So not scary! Most people just don't run away from a hurricane named Katrina. I'd bet it was all most people could do to resist the urge to make Hurricane Katrina some pizza rolls.

If the National Weather Service wants to get serious about protecting people, they have got to rethink this name thing. They need to start giving these storms some names that absolutely leave NO doubt that they are going to seriously FUCK US UP. Names like Hurricane Deathbroth or the Kneecapper or Margaret Thatcher. Something that's going to inspire the average person to fear for their lives.

Look at the names they're getting into next year. Hurricane Beryl? Hurricane Ernesto? I can see a little germ of fear growing in the face of a hurricane named Oscar, maybe. I knew a thorough-going bitch named Joyce once. But most of these names are just no good! Nadine is the cute barista at the coffeeshop across the street. Tony is the lead in West Side Story. Isaac is the Love Boat bartender. No, no, no. These are mixed messages!

What we need is a hurricane named, let's say, The Penetrator. You tell me that The Penetrator is coming ashore in 24 hours and I am gone like Keyser Soze. Use the names of famous human predators, like Adolph or Idi Amin or Attilla or Affleck, and people will break out in a mad dash for higher ground. Think about it--when the media reports on the "aftermath of Leslie", how worked up do you expect the Federal responders to get? But if you have reporters beaming out picture live from the devastation wrought by The Defecator--then we'll see some motherfuckers rolling out to save some people on roofs!

Think about this: in 2007, the National Weather Service plans a "Hurricane Sebastien." I'm not trying to be cute here, but the most hardcore thing I'd expect from a Sebastien is a pedicure.


The Cut said...

That was funny. You need to exercise caution. The National Weather Service could get pissed and send out contract killers on your ass when you use their name in the same story as Keyser Soze.

Anonymous said...

What if each Hurricane not only had an ominous title, but also a subtitle, like a neverending string of sequels....

So you could have:

Hurricane Chernobyl: Leave the dog and the Playstation and just fucking RUN.

Hurricane Koresh: Up to your solar plexis in the rotting effluvia of your dead neighbors

Hurricane Schiavo: Electrocution by downed power lines if you're lucky

Hurricane Cheney: Grab Your Ankles, Bitch, I Own Your Ass

Etc, etc, ad infinitum.....

jordan said...

wait until hurricane omar in 2008 becomes a campaign issue...

Jeff Deck said...

Funny one, DCeiver... I liked. I'm out of the D.C. area now, fled back to New England, but I continue to check up on your screeds.

Anonymous said...

whoever you are, you're blog is great.

i'm a recent transplant from florida. growing up in florida, my friends often wondered the same thing about the naming of the hurricanes.

stupid trivia... typhoon, hurricane, and cyclone are all the same thing w/the exception of location.

The Governess said...

I vote to name hurricanes things like CAPTAIN DISASTER and DOCTOR FRANKENCANE. But my vote doesn't count. You can tell by Captain Cuckoo Bananas still being in office.