Lucky for us this weekend's soccer game and the Girl Scout training I had registered for over a month ago were cancelled this weekend so we Austinites could brace ourselves for the brunt of the hurricane. Gas stations were running out of gas, grocery stores were running out of water on Thursday. Costco has their portable generators displayed prominently at the entrance and as we sat and enjoyed our pizza this afternoon I watched as four of the $700 behemoths began the journey to their new homes.
Wait a minute. I'm having déjà vu! This is very reminiscent of Hurricane Rita three years ago, right after Katrina had devastated New Orleans and the Lousiana / Mississippi coast. The country was still reeling from the massive failures to secure the safety of hundreds of thousands of people. Then along comes Rita. No slacker was she! She packed a big wollop and Austin braced for the fury. Flashlights, batteries, water, gas, bread were all snatched off store shelves. Preparations were made for storm of cataclysmic proportions. Events were cancelled.
And while Port Arthur, Texas was being hammered by Rita's ravaging winds and rain, Austin was 100 degrees under a cloudless sky.
My point is this. It does not diminish the severity of the storm to acknowledge that it possibly may not be calamitous HERE. We should do everything we can to shelter evacuees and provide assistance in getting people to safety. But Austin's demise is not going to happen in the eye of a hurricane and here's why. We are above sea level. We don't have sub-par levees or sea walls protecting us from the storm surge - because there is no storm surge - because we are 200 miles from the closest coast. Yes, we might get buckets of rain and yes, we might have strong winds. Tornadoes even. But must we act as if the apocalypse is coming?
In fact, our self-centered focus on ourselves at a time when our neighbors and loved ones at the coast are facing REAL peril is, is, is....well, it's self-centered.
Not that I wouldn't have liked to see some rain come our way. Just a little.