Nannies and Natural Disasters

I’m in the Dallas area today, after the tornado outbreak yesterday. I was watching coverage of the damage on one of local TV stations.

I was concerned by one of the reports. The reporter said that no residents were being allowed in the area, as it was too dangerous, and no one would be allowed in until city officials toured the area and said it was safe enough for residents to come back.

To me, this is bogus nannyism. There were dozens of reporters standing around on the lawns of destroyed and damaged houses. If reporters can be hanging around, then there is NO reason that residents can’t be allowed back to start working on their property.

The “officials”, who were not going to be in the area for a number of hours, are just exercising authority, getting in the way of people who need to get to their property.

This same thing happened in Moore, OK after the big 1999 tornado. The perimeter was six blocks from the nearest damage, and people with guns were keeping residents from their property, in the name of “safety”. The gas in the area was off, the power was off. It was just an exercise of nannyism. I was trying to bring Raegan’s parents some breakfast, and the only reason I got through the line was telling the officer that her Dad was diabetic and needed the food to keep from getting really sick. In that case, the decision to let people in wasn’t made until more than 24 hours after the storm. The storm was around 1800 on 03 May. NOTHING changed from about 0400 the next day until people were allowed in after 1900, on 04 May. I don’t know why it took so long (I note that I emailed the Moore emergency manager twice asking why, and never received an answer).

People are responsible for their own safety on their own property. OK, so I understand that you want to keep looters and gawkers out. So have the police authenticate people, and let those people leave the names of authorized helpers with the cops. But don’t keep people from working on their property.

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5 Responses to “Nannies and Natural Disasters”

  1. Tom Says:

    You can’t count on reporters EVER reporting things correctly within 24-48 hours of an incident. It seems to be something that’s in their basic nature.

    It’s possible that the situation in some area was as you describe it, but, if people weren’t being allowed in, it was much more likely that the reason was that power and gas hadn’t been cleaned up by then, or that damaged buildings hadn’t been classified yet.

    Having been part of the damage assessment team for the tornado that came through here a few years ago, I can tell you that untrained people are not only dangerous to themselves, but to those trying to get the situation under control. (Many “stable” buildings only look that way after that kind of wind, and the untrained eye usually can’t spot them. One person trapped in a collapsed building unnecessarily puts several more at risk when they come to the rescue.)

    The damage assessment team was probably the “city officials” referred to in the report.

    Most of the areas here were under control pretty quickly, and people were let in with no problem, as long as they could prove they lived there, and/or had a legitimate NEED to be there. Lancaster, because of the extent of the damage there, imposed a 7PM-7AM curfew.

    As for the Moore tornado, I can pretty much guarantee that your email wasn’t even viewed for a couple of weeks, other than to classify and file it. During such events, the EOC personnel are busy with higher priority issues, and THAT tornado was 1000 times worse than ours was, and our EOC was overworked for 48 hours.

  2. Bill Hensley Says:

    Tom, whatever. It’s not about reporters. “It’s possible that the situation”… there was confirmation from some Lancaster city official interviewed on WFAA about 0745. The rest of your post is just speculation.

    I really don’t need an explanation of how a city agency works when it comes to reading email.

    Like I said before, you probably need your own blog.

  3. Tom Says:

    I standby my observations. (Were it Garland, i might be less inclined to do so.) I was a little more directly involved in that day’s events than those whose only source of data is the media….

    The broadcast you saw was the morning after, but residents were being allowed into the Lancaster damage area the night before. The official was more likely explaining the curfew the night before, and what you saw was either Abadan explanation or ad editing. In either case, what you were led to believe doesn’t match the facts.

    Most of the hit areas went to residents and accredited media only as soon as control could be established. Lancaster was the only one with a curfew, so attracted a lot of media attention.

  4. Bill Hensley Says:

    Observation not particularly relevant. I don’t care to hear about your prejudices against the media. If you want to do that, find your own platform.

  5. Tom Says:

    Don’t confuse prejudice with skepticism.

    What you’ve ignored in this conversation is that we agree about the nanny state approach. What we disagree about is how much, if any, there was in this case.

    Every damage location, as a matter of record, actually followed your view (mine, too, by the way) and let residents and those with a legitimate need in as soon as it was safe, which was by that evening, within a few hours of the strike. As far as I can tell, no one was forced to leave.

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