This morning while my kid was driving across town in an approaching hurricane to go babysit, I came across this headline at NPR and foolishly clicked: “More than 2.5 million Florida students have missed school during Hurricane Ian”.
Pause for a moment and remind yourself that reporters at National Public Radio, and the editors who publish them, are presumably supposed to understand at least some tiny thing about their topic? At all?
And on the face of it, the facts are correct. Schools are out so kids are missing class. Yes indeed. But to someone who lives in the hurricane corner of the universe, here is how this article reads: We at NPR are fecklessly generating worry over the world’s stupidest observation while a major natural disaster has just wrought mind-boggling destruction and the body count isn’t even in yet.
Normal people are indeed worried about the well-being of Florida children. We are thinking about:
- Were the kids able to evacuate?
- Is there clean water?
- Will those who lost their homes have someplace to go?
- How are they staying safe from downed electrical lines?
- Do they know not to play in the hazardous sludge of the floodwaters?
And heavens to betsy, reporter friend, do you not know that there are extra days built into the school year specifically to compensate for hazardous weather days? And then we have a few three-day weekend holidays that can be called off to catch up further?
And why on earth did you bother school administrators who could be doing anything, at all, more worthwhile than answering your snowflake worries about some days off school, when your questions could have been answered by, um, anyone with a pulse who either knows the topic or can a read school district website?
For me, a reader who is long used to being treated like the idiot child because I live in a red state, the answer is clear: You have no understanding of us.
Here we are in the southeast, our entire economy turning on a dime to reconfigure in the face of the major natural disasters that blow through every year, yes we know how to do this. Yes it gets bad. Hurricanes are no joke. It is hard for a state emergency management system to do what it can to minimize loss of life. As few people die as they do because the entire community is working in concert, not just top-down but ordinary people all pivoting at once at respond to the imminent threat, to make things as not-horrible as possible.
And apparently that is appealing, because all you blue-state geniuses who know better than us keep moving here?
It’s not that NPR is has its facts wrong. It’s that they are once again showing they just don’t comprehend their topic at all. I really need to unsubscribe.
Back on the personal, for those wondering about my kid. She’s sixteen, her school is closed today but actually she doesn’t have class on Fridays anyway, explained briefly here, so ordinarily she’d be sleeping in. Instead she got up early to go watch a couple little kids whose parents work in healthcare.
We live outside any evacuation zones, but yes, by the end of the day a low-key hurricane, probably downgraded to a tropical storm, is supposed to be rolling through her drive home. Downed trees and powerlines are the mostly likely hazards, but flooded or washed-out roads are a possibility.
Before she left I gave her a talk about “turn around don’t drown” and a free pass to park herself at Starbucks and spend parent money while she waited for the roads to clear, in the event she got stranded partway home. She was not wild about the reality that she might end up staying the night at the clients’ house (she was hoping to go to a movie with her friends, actually).
This is not a big deal. This is just life here. There is a great story for NPR about the thousands upon thousands of ordinary teenagers and neighbors and grandparents who drop everything (which is mostly just sitting staring at the rain and hoping you don’t lose internet) to provide childcare so that hospitals and emergency worker can do their thing when these storms roll through.
Seriously. It’s very cool. It is awesome that our schools can be repurposed on two day’s notice into evacuation shelters. In a major evacuation, our school buses from across the state descend on the coast to provide transportation to dry ground for those who don’t have it. That is a story, and it’s a story that involved many years of fine-tuning and upgrades in response to evacuations that didn’t go so well.
Related, from 2015 when things got spicy post-hurricane:
Editing to just rant a tiny bit more: Today, 9/30/22, schools across SC are closed even where conditions won’t be all that bad. Why? Because you cannot safely plan to run a school bus route home this afternoon. So yes: Thousands of children are going to miss a day of instruction (that will be made up later), rather than risk some poor driver getting stranded with a busload of tired, hungry little guys who just want to go home, but they can’t because of a road blockage, and that means the parents can’t rescue them either.
NO SANE PERSON wrings their hands over this. Stranded school buses during hazardous weather are a disaster. Just friggin’ make up the school day another time. It’s not fun. There is a serious story to be investigated about the budget crunch of workers whose schedules got cancelled and the childcare crunch of those who do have (essential, necessary-in-a-storm) work but can’t safely send their kids to school (which is why it’s canceled).
How do people adapt? What support is there for the most vulnerable families? Those are good questions that deserve reporters’ attention. Sigh.
Photo: Satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of Hurricane Ian approaching Florida. Via Wikimedia, public domain.