's Forum Archives - Non-Cycling Discussions

Archive Home >> Non-Cycling Discussions(1 2 3 4 )

Evacuate?(34 posts)

Oct 2, 2002 7:52 AM
This morning I'm reading about the hurricane off Lousiana and Texas and how the police have ordered mandatory evacuations. I wonder, how many of you would go?

Anyone who read my "I love fire" post below knows that my family has been told to evacuate and we never did. We also get earthquakes out here, and building inspectors go around and "red tag" houses, meaning you aren't supposed to go in. Everyone I know who had a red tagged house never moved out, and most still live in the house today. Whatever the problem was, they fixed it and got on with life.

The way I see it, if the government wants to pay my mortgage, insurance, and property taxes, then they can tell me to leave. Otherwise, you can ask me to leave, but I'll politely decline.

I'm not talking about silly people holding hurricane parties in a hotel. I'm talking about staying with my home, riding out the storm/fire/whatever the best I can, dealing with problems as they arise.
Depends on the circumstanceKristin
Oct 2, 2002 8:29 AM
If I'm living on the shore and a strong storm surge is expected, then I'll probably go visit relatives up north for a few days. If its a class 5 huricane, I'll probably go visit friends up north for a few days. I grew up on the coast of Connecticut. Thanks to the sound (Long Island), surges and flooding are never a factor. As a result, hurricane Gloria (84) was a blast. 125 MPH winds, a closed highway and a bike made for a great adventure. Lacking water & power for two weeks was not so fun. Walking into the woods to check on the horses three times was unnerving.

During hurricances, mandatory evacuations have much to do with looting. When the state police expect that most people are expected to evacuate voluntarily, leaving a town virtually empty, they often make the evacuation mandatory. That makes it easier to guard the area. Looting is a big problem during hurricanes.
that sounds very selfishMJ
Oct 2, 2002 8:31 AM
but maybe I should give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that when you are trapped beneath the rubble of your house you won't hold the rescuers responsible for not responding to your emergency cell phone call and your will prevents your estate from suing those with statutiory responsibilities to rescue you in such circumstances

staying behind despite public warnings may force public officers (police, fire, etc) to rescue people who foolishly put themselves at risk - the decision puts more lives than just the decision maker's - I think people often think I'll stay here and if it gets hairy then I'll call the authorities

most people can't effectively (or safely) deal with large scale disasters

I think the government dicta in these circumstances is aimed at preventing loss of life (not just yours) rather impinging on citizen's rights

assuming one's decision can not realistically impact on anybody else - then go for it - but then again I'm all for euthanasia (and youth in asia)
Evacuate - socially responsible thing to doPdxMark
Oct 2, 2002 8:39 AM
I would go. Rescue crews shouldn't have to deal with belated pleas for help or belated escape attempts when it really hits the fan.

You could say that one car with one family maneuvering through the chaos is not a big deal. But consider if thousands of people who thought they could tough it out change their minds at the worst possible time. Even in the recent California fires a woman chose not to evacuate (or couldn't), then called for help with the fire on her doorstep. Two rescue workers risked their lives for her. How are they to know if she was innocently trapped or had just changed her mind?

With a hurricane blowing and your roof peeling off, what are you going to go out to do to change anything?

If choosing to stay meant you would stay off the roads until the all clear, not call for help if your house were hit, not expect medical or life insurance to cover your injuries, then fine.... But playing rugged individualist only until it hurts, and then expectating the world to come rushing to help, needlessly puts an undue burden on strained resources (rescue crews, roads) at the worst possible time.

I'm glad your family was lucky in playing with fire. But I wonder how clever your folks would have thought they were if a wind shift had killed your family.
Evacuate - socially responsible thing to do - yesDougSloan
Oct 2, 2002 9:02 AM
If you don't leave, potentially you are endangering rescue personnel, or possibly keeping some rescue personnel occupied with you while someone else could be suffering or dying. Not good.

Evacuate - socially responsible thing to do - ???mr_spin
Oct 2, 2002 10:28 AM
If no one was ever endangered, we wouldn't need rescue personnel. That's why rescue personnel exist!

Your logic doesn't work in the real world, because there is always going to be someone suffering or dying somewhere. Forgetting about evacuation for a moment, if I am walking down the street and see a car crash where the occupants are trapped, but not suffering or dying, I shouldn't call rescue personnel. If I called rescue personnel, they could get tied up while someone who really was suffering or dying needed them.

As long as we are making this a social responsibility issue, the socially responsible thing to do is never to build homes anywhere where they might occur a natural disaster. I'm not sure where that is
Not exactly a comparison,TJeanloz
Oct 2, 2002 11:10 AM
Your car crash comparison would be more apt if the car had left the garage with a cracked axel and leaking fuel tank, which the driver knew of but chose to ignore, only to cause an accident.

If you are told to evacuate, and you refuse, I say you're on your own, and should be required to pay for any rescue that you need as a result of your bad judgement. Society at large can't be held accountable for your bad judgements.
Agree. At least lessen the known risks. nmDougSloan
Oct 2, 2002 11:13 AM
Not exactly a comparison,mr_spin
Oct 2, 2002 11:33 AM
I agree somewhat that I'm on my own if I don't evacuate, but I fully expect that I will receive help if I need it.

It's just not good enough for public safety organizations to say get out, and then close their eyes and pretend their job is done. They exist for the purpose of protecting me, even from myself. If they are going to bill me, then I will have to do a cost adjustment based on past and future taxes I have paid to support these organizations. I will also have to do a cost adjustment based on the fixed costs of firemen/policeman/whatever sitting around the station doing nothing. Seems to me, the most I should ever have to pay for is water and gas. As far as I am aware, firemen and policemen don't get paid by the call.

Like it or not, I will not walk away from my property. We don't get hurricanes here, so that's not even an issue. I was in Florida right after Andrew and saw the devastation there. I'm pretty sure I would not ride out one of those.

Wildfires, on the other hand, I would almost definitely ride out. I live out of the fire zone right now, but I've lived through several fires,and if I ever move back into it, I will prepare my home according to fire department recommendations on brush clearance, etc. and do far more, like boxing in the eaves, replacing a shake roof, buying a pump for my pool, building with stucco instead of wood, etc. I can build a very fire resistant home. So I won't leave.

This reminds me of the 1993 Malibu fire, which destroyed 300 homes. There was an old woman who built a helipad behind her house. She let the fire department use it every once in a while for whatever reason. On the day of the fire, they flew in and picked her up. I'm pretty sure they didn't send her a bill.
Firemen don't get paid by the call...TJeanloz
Oct 2, 2002 11:49 AM
Actually, in a good part of the U.S., firemen do get paid by the call. For example, a certain relative of mine who shall remain nameless, but who was quite adept at agricultural burning, had a 'controlled burn' on her farm get a little bit beyond her control; she called the fire department, who promptly put it out and sent her the bill. Historically, most fire brigades were paid by the call, and many were even private companies.

But history and examples aside, I would interpret the refusal to evacuate as a refusal of service. The rescue personell are coming to you and saying: "we are doing our job by telling you to leave and assisting you in leaving, if you don't leave, you are refusing our services, and we can't be responsible for you."
Not in Santa Clara Countymr_spin
Oct 2, 2002 12:12 PM
And not in Los Angeles County, either. Your refusal of service interpretation doesn't hold water as far as I am concerned.

Let's start with the fact that rescue personnel take an oath to protect and serve and exist for no other reason. If they are allowed to refuse service, then maybe they should stick to marching in parades.

Second, evacuation orders are rarely given individually, and therefore can very easily not be heard. I recall getting a few evacuation orders secondhand from neighbors. One time I remember a policeman driving down the street saying through his PA "Evacuate." I happened to be in the front yard, so I went in and told my parents, who had no idea because they hadn't heard. They don't usually come and knock on your door, which means that they cannot expect to reach everyone, and therefore rescue personnel cannot pack their stuff and go home. Broadcasting on radio or TV isn't even good enough, because during a fire, no one in the fire area is watching TV or listening to the radio.
They aren't refusing service...TJeanloz
Oct 2, 2002 12:25 PM
They aren't refusing service, you are refusing their service. How does this example differ from your refusal to evacuate:

You set your house on fire; fire department comes; you tell them: "don't worry about it, everything's under control, I don't need you, go away"; then two hours later, your house is 80% burned down when you realize you've made a mistake; do you then call the fire department and tell them it's their job to come put out the fire?

You refused their service (even though you initially didn't request it); at what point do they have to come back and save you from yourself?
that's easymr_spin
Oct 2, 2002 12:39 PM
The fire department puts out fires. If I have a fire I want put out, I call them. That is their job. There's no limit on the number of times I can call them up to put out a fire. Even if there were, I didn't call them the first time. Someone else apparently did.

Let me change the players in your argument. My husband beats me up. I call the police. They come, and as happens far too often, I decide not to press charges. My husband beats me up again. I call the police again. Are they going to say "Sorry. We'd like to help but you refused our service."
This is where we differ,TJeanloz
Oct 2, 2002 12:51 PM
Public services exist as a safety net, not as your employees to work at your beck and call. That is my view, clearly not shared by you, and this is where we will have to agree to disagree.

I am, however, dissappointed to know that I have to pay for the bad judgement of people like yourself.
have you listened to yourselfMJ
Oct 3, 2002 12:12 AM
your attitude is exactly what America's self-entitlement culture is all about - it's rare to ever see such an infantile opinion actually written down - it's painful to see your 'justification and reasoning' for a determination to exhibit poor judgment and then jeopardise others - most people learn about these things through children's books at a very young age and know it's not acceptable behaviour

you should change your handle to me, myself and I

you have essentially stated that you want to do whatever you choose and then if later, despite earlier warnings, you figure out you made a bad choice you then think the same people that told you it ws too dangerous to stay should come and save you - obviously you suffer no consequences as a result of your apalling judgment because it is your right to do stupid things and have other people make it better

no one other than you should have to foot the bills and suffer the consequences for such decisions

responsibility is part of having rights
Hey man, it's not "american culture."Sintesi
Oct 3, 2002 8:32 AM
Entitlements are abused in all developed civilisations. Considering the extent of socialism in most of Europe I don't think one can consider Europeans as exemplars of "self-reliance." Most of the people in the coastal areas of LA played it smart and left. From what I read I think Mr. Spin is decidedly in the minority of opinions displayed here.

If mr spin wants to stay home to watch it fill up with water that's his affair, but he shouldn't expect to be "rescued" promply, if at all.

You're right, people often have selfish "screw the other guy" attitudes but it's not endemic to the the US.

There, we now may proceed in the further flaying of mr. spin's feelings of "self-entitlement."
don't even get me started about theMJ
Oct 3, 2002 8:59 AM
European sense of entitlement

in the UK there is royalty, the middle class, the working class and the care class - people expect alot here from the governemnt and it's often unrealistic - but there are always notable exceptions and a number of self-reliant people - after all somebody's gotta pay taxes here to fund everything - something I don't mind doing as I believe in the ideas behind a national health service, social services and a compassionate society

however, what you do not see here is the attitude that as a taxpayer (or not as the case may be) a public servant is at your beck and call - nor do you see such a litigious society
Rank on the lawyers and our sue, sue sue society.Sintesi
Oct 3, 2002 9:36 AM
I wonder what the lawyers-to-population ratio is in America compared to the rest of the world. I'll bet we're at the tippy top of the heap. This sounds like a great thread. If there's one thing America likes more than suing other people it's bashing their lawyers. We are ridiculous in this regard.
Oct 3, 2002 7:59 AM
I've been involved in a couple of evacuations (fires). This is the way it works:

Somewhere up at the top end someone makes a decision that the fire is out of control and lives and property are in imminent danger. They will evaluate the fires path to your structure and if they think the have a chance to save it, they will stay and fight. If not, they will ask the homeowners to evacuate with the condition that if they choose to remain with their house they are on their own, as they won't be back to rescue them. 90% of the time people will comply. A few will elect to stay with their house and have everything packed and ready to depart if things go south. One of the priorities in forest fire county are escape routes (remember the Oakland Hills fire?). If there is only one road in and one road out and that road is blocked or overrun by the fire, you are screwed. That is one thing flatlanders overlook when they look at property in the high country.

It's sort of like having a car stall on the railroad tracks with a 30MPH freight train barreling down on you. Do you stay in your car and hope that it starts, or do you get out and allow the train to hit the car. If it was me, I'd get out..

Hurricane are a different story. Never been there, hope I never will.....
Safe areas...Brooks
Oct 2, 2002 4:08 PM
Well, I lived near two wildfires, neither of which turned towards the house or even particularly threatened it, but we did have the fire department stationed there (on a knoll, end of the road). I certainly would have obeyed an evacuation order. Question, if you are injured when riding out a hurricane or fire and you ignored an evacuation order, should insurance companies pay for your injuries? The same argument is made with regards to helmet/seatbelt laws. No, rescue personnel won't just leave you on the side of the road, but in a Malthusian/Darwinist model maybe they should.

I grew up in California, felt a number of earthquakes. In other parts of the country people ask "how could I live there, isn't it dangerous/frightening?" Do you realize that more people in the US have died from hurricanes in the last 10 years than have died from earthquakes in the past 100? this includes the 1908 SF earthquake and fire, the various LA quakes and the Loma Prieta (World Series) quake. And people know that a hurricane is coming! They know it for days and have the opportunity to leave and don't! This is just stupid.

Sure, you can minimize your your risk by earthquake proofing your house, building and landscaping to prevent fire damage, building to lessen wind and water damage from hurricanes and tornadoes. Given all that, nature can still destroy your home and kill the occupants "riding it out". I was in Oakland after the big fire and South Florida after Andrew. Total devastation and some of those houses built to be resistant but were still wiped out. My life is not my "things". Property can be replaced. I can't be cloned (at least not yet). Why stick around and increase the risk?

Just my two cents.
Trapped in a wrecked car sounds like suffering to me.czardonic
Oct 2, 2002 11:20 AM
Besides that, it is not true that because all things carry risk, they are all equally risky. Social responsibility has to do with minimizing the burden that your actions place on society, in this case by avoiding known risks.
Oct 2, 2002 11:43 AM
This is where the "someone may be suffering or dying" logic breaks down. There are degrees of suffering. Being stuck in a car because the seat belt won't release has an element of suffering to it, but it doesn't compare to being trapped when the car is on fire. If both happen simultaneously in different but nearby locations, obviously the people trapped in a burning car should get priority from rescue personnel. But how am I to know? If I call in the stuck seatbelt accident, rescue personnel might go there first, and the people in the burning car will suffer even more or die.
That's what dispatchers are for.czardonic
Oct 2, 2002 12:15 PM
If you are reporting an incident, the dispatcher will try to ascertain the level of seriousness. If they get a call about a malfunctioning seatbelt, and subsequently receive a call about a burning car with occupants trapped, they will divert rescue services to where they are most urgently needed.

You mention degrees of suffering, but your argument still relies on the false premise that there are no degrees of risk.
you Kant do itDougSloan
Oct 2, 2002 12:25 PM
"Act in conformity with that maxim, and that maxim only, which you can at the same time will to be a universal law." Kant

The point is, sort of, "what if everyone did the same as you?" There would not be enough rescue people to go around. More people would be in danger. Now, you say, "not everyone will do as I do." Well, I guess you are special and above the law (and reason). Rescue people exist to assist the arrogant ones who won't do simple things to protect themselves, right? -- you know, the "special" people. Isnt' this essentially what you are arguing?

All a matter of how lucky you've been and what you learn from itPdxMark
Oct 2, 2002 12:24 PM
As a kid, fires that were near your home and COULD have destroyed your family's house, didn't. So from your direct experience you've learned that evacuation orders seem to be unnecessary precautions. Heck, it happened several (3? 10?) times. You have much more experience than me, or most of us, with evacuation orders.

I think evacuation orders are reasonable precautions to prevent massive loss of life or injury if the face of a directly identifiable risk. Is it reasonable to issue an evacuation order if there is a risk that a hurricane might hit or a fire might engulf a town? I think so. Allison points out the Galveston hurricane that killed 6,000 people and wiped Galveston off the map.

Can a person choose to stay because they think it won't hit or whatever? Sure. And the odds might not even be that bad. Maybe just 1-in-20. And if that person rides it out to the bitter end, fine. But they seldom do, when it gets bad... And when they call for help, or need to be dug out of wreckage, they are ultimately putting others at risk or needlessly burdening resources that are already overwhelmed.

It's that burden that is socially irresponsible.

The issue is not what happens when you're lucky, but rather what happens if you're unlucky -- when the foreseeable risk occurs.

You're right, there is no burden if the hurricane of fire misses. Just how many times will all those close ones miss? 10 times? 11 times? You seem to believe that since you've been lucky so far, you always will be. That's not the lesson I would take from your experience.
Hurricane evacuation data & why storm tides are the killersAllisonHayes
Oct 2, 2002 9:24 AM

The hurricanes' worst killer comes from the sea, in the form storm surge, which claims nine of ten victims in a hurricane.

It is a large dome of water often 50 to 100 miles wide that sweeps across the coastline near where a hurricane makes landfall. The surge of high waters topped by waves is devastating. The stronger the hurricane and the shallower the offshore water, the higher the surge will be. Along the immediate coast, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property. If the storm surge arrives at the same time as the high tide, the water height will be even greater. The storm tide is the combination of the storm surge and the normal astronomical tide.


1. Over 6,000 people were killed in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900-mostly by the storm tide.
2. Hurricane Camille in 1969 produced a 25-foot storm tide in Mississippi.
3. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 generated a 20-foot storm tide in South Carolina.


At least 40 percent of coastal Broward defied an evacuation order issued for Hurricane Floyd, the 1999 monster that swerved north at the last instant.

In a 2000 survey of coastal residents, more than one in three said they would not evacuate in the event of a Category 4 hurricane and an evacuation order.

Why would they stay? Folk wisdom. Years of experience with storms that veer off at the last minute. An illogical conviction that storms never strike Broward.

"I'm dumbfounded why people would be presented with such a risk and be given such specific directions to evacuate and then choose not to do that," Carper said.


So, I would say that, unlike your shake roof that can withstand a fire, I doubt that few structures (and people) can survive a severe storm surge, particularly when water weighs 1700 pounds per cubic yard -- extended pounding by frequent waves can demolish any structure not specifically designed to withstand such force. Or, to put it more succinctly, "It's not about the wind."
Evacuate? Could cause an environmental disastermoneyman
Oct 2, 2002 1:44 PM
Think of it - a city like New Orleans or Miami all heading out at the same time, and so many of those people in SUVs! Why, it would cause a disaster beyond all proportion, what with the extra emissions being belched out by those gas-guzzling behemoths. Not to mention the fact that all those poor unfortunates in economy cars would obviously be run over by the selfish bastards in the SUVs who only care about themselves trying to get out first, and not the people in the little cars OR the environment! No, it would be far better to stay and fight the hurricane than to take a chance on speeding up global disaster by evacuating in your SUV.

Agreed. The SUV owners should stay put. (nm)czardonic
Oct 2, 2002 2:27 PM
they can drive out later with 2' of water on the road! nmDougSloan
Oct 2, 2002 3:39 PM
re: Evacuate?DINOSAUR
Oct 2, 2002 5:13 PM
I was involved in the Santa Cruz Mountain fire back in 1985. The sheriff forced evacuation and once people left, they were not allowed to return to their homes until the fire was out. Some folks decided to stay and fight the fires, some homes were lost, some were saved. It was later discovered that the sheriff had no authority to enforce evacuation (I think they have a county ordinance now that covers this now). A lot of bad blood developed and I sat in a couple of meetings that invovled a lot of finger pointing and blame. The major problem were lookie-looers and looters. People came up to watch the fire and blocked roads for the emergency vehicles. Fires are one thing and hurricanes are another. When we moved up to the foothills one of the criteria for our house was several different escape routes in case of fire. If a fire hits where I live, there is nothing you can do but evacuate. Homes and property can be replaced, lives can't.
If it were my house I'd probably pack my truck, grab our pets, try to make a last stand, and prepare to evacuate. Also if things go south, emergency personal have an obligation to come to your rescue. Most folks comply and leave, it's the price you pay if you live in forest fire country. No way I would live in hurricane country. I'll take my chances with fire....
Texas lawPygme
Oct 2, 2002 6:52 PM
In Texas, the law prohibits forced evacuation. Law enforcement personell can not make you evacuate. But (there is always a but) LE personell can control "ingress" and "egress" meaning that can keep you from entering an area or leaving an area.
Anyone else familiar with the Darwin Awards? nmEager Beagle
Oct 3, 2002 12:50 AM
Eager Beagle, yours should have been the only response! nmrtyszko
Oct 3, 2002 12:54 PM
so, you still alive? nmDougSloan
Oct 4, 2002 5:55 AM