Brent Batten: A dangerous stage of Hurricane Irma is still ahead
We feel where Brent is coming from with hurricane fatigue. Behind The Headlines Staff
Meteorologists talk about the stages of a hurricane.
It starts as a tropical disturbance, then forms into a tropical depression, then a tropical storm and then the most dangerous stage of all, a hurricane.
There are stages a community goes through in a hurricane as well.
First, there’s the Here We Go Again Stage, when forecasters start talking about a disturbance or depression out in the ocean and people say, “Here we go again, the media is hyping another storm to drive up ratings and sell papers.”
Then comes the Plywood Stage. That’s when the storm, by now named, gets closer and poses more of an obvious threat. People flock to the hardware store to buy plywood for shutters.
It could just as easily be called the Bottled Water Stage because stores sell out as people line up for that too.
Then there’s the Hunkering Down Stage. Not much happens in this stage, except for the storm actually hits. But you’ll hear the term “hunkering down” about 50 times a day.
After the storm passes comes the Stay Where You Are Stage. No one actually does, of course. Everyone wants to get out and see what happened.
Still, officials ask everyone to stay where you are. They usually throw in a few more references to hunkering down.
Next comes the Gasoline Truck Stage. Everyone needs gas, either for a car or a generator, but few places have any to sell. Under police escort, gasoline trucks are conspicuous on the roads. People will follow them for miles, searching for the next opportunity to fill up. They’re willing to wait hours to do so.
Within a couple of days, the Gasoline Truck Stage gives way to the Power Truck Stage. Electricity is slowly being restored and everyone hopes their neighborhood is next.
Power trucks are everywhere, but it isn’t until they stop on your street that you begin to believe the AC will soon be coming back.
Concurrent with the Power Truck Stage is the Extension Cord Stage.
People relying on generators for days on end realize they don’t have enough extension cords. Stores sell out of them just like they did plywood and bottled water before the storm.
Near the end is the Baking Soda Stage. Life is inching closer to normal so attention turns to less critical chores, such as cleaning out the refrigerator. Stores, now amply stocked with bottled water, canned food, gasoline and extension cords run low on, of all things, baking soda.
Next comes the Tree Truck Stage. That’s the stage we’re in now in Southwest Florida.
Roads recently dominated by gasoline trucks and power trucks are now brimming with specialized vehicles tasked with hauling away debris, mostly downed trees.
Like the crews manning trucks in the earlier stages, the tree trimmers are heralded as conquering heroes as they arrive to take away the unsightly reminders of the long past storm.
The final phase, one that hasn’t quite gotten here yet, is the I’m Not Doing This Again Stage.
Memories of the storm and its dangers soften as routines are re-established.
People remember the inconvenience of boarding up, stocking up and hunkering down. But they seem to forget the uncertainty and randomness of extreme weather.
So even though neighbors just a relatively few miles away had their homes destroyed, their selective memory is of a storm that didn’t do serious damage to theirs.
They conclude that the whole thing was overblown. All the predictions of devastation from one end of the state to the other didn’t pan out, which can only mean that either A: the media was hyping another storm to drive up ratings and sell papers, or B: even the worst hurricanes aren’t all that bad.
They decide that the next time, they’re not going to go to all the trouble because in the end, it just wasn’t worth it.
This might be the most dangerous stage of all.
Connect with Brent Batten at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @NDN_BrentBatten and at facebook.com/ndnbrentbatten.
Days after Hurricane Irma hit Southwest Florida, a busy street in the city of Bonita Springs remained under water.
Drone video shows how a flooded field and a four wheeler becomes an opportunity for wakeboarding in the Lehigh Acres area of Southwest Florida.
Drone footage shows the destruction left by Hurricane Irma in the Leawood Lakes and Cape Sable Lakes neighborhoods of Naples. (Video by Rodney White and Michael Zamora)
Drone video shows hurricane Irma's damage to Goodland, a small community along the water in Southwest Florida. USA TODAY NETWORK
- Hurricane Irma drone video: Flooded street in Bonita Springs
- Hurricane Irma drone video: Wakeboarding in Lehigh Acres
- Hurricane Irma drone video: Irma wrecks Southwest Florida neighborhoods
- Hurricane Irma drone video: Boats, businesses battered in Goodland