We live in Central Florida and if you have been watching the news, you will know that we had a very wet, very windy storm recently; Tropical Storm Fay.
Fay came in at a brisk pace of 35 mph when it was travelling North from the Florida Keys. It slowed down to about 8-9 MPH when it came in just under Ft. Myers and crawled to an almost complete stop when it hit the Space Coast (Melbourne-Cape Canaveral). While there, it dumped an incredible amount of water. Brevard County officially had, in some areas, over 18″ of water and unofficially, over 30″. The Melbourne International Airport had to close down reportedly due to fish, gators and debris on the runway. If you are really curious about this, a quick search on YouTube.com will show video of fish swimming in folk’s streets and driveways.
Although Fay was not a Hurricane, the 60 MPH sustained winds, with gusts that at times reached over 100 MPH, were enough to cause serious damage to local trees and homes. This damage is all part and parcel of life in Florida and is to be expected, especially during storm season. But when people leave common sense behind and jump out into the winds on purpose- well, that’s just not too smart.
The above is footage of twenty-something year old Kevin Kearny as he is being unceremoniously dragged across the sand, up into the air and slammed into a building across the street from the beach where he started. We don’t see the impact, thank goodness, but we do see him on the ground, possibly passed out, as they wait for EMTs to come and help.
I nominate Kevin for the Charles Darwin Awards.
The first time I saw this event, I couldn’t help but laugh in spite of the cold chill of horror running up my spine. My first thought was “What kind of idiot would hang on to a parachute while being dragged across the sand?” My first question should have been “What kind of idiot would be out on the beach during a tropical storm in the first place, attached to a giagantic kite, no less?”
Curiosity getting the best of me, I googled “kitesurfing” and found out the lack of sense went far beyond holding on tight. It seems that part of the “safety equipment” includes a harness that effectively ties you to your kite so, if you do let it go, you don’t lose the kite. You can see another kitesurfing moron wearing one of these harnesses as he paces worriedly near Kevin’s prone body. These harnesses do have a safety feature, an emergency release, but who really thinks of such things while grabbing serious air time?
Am I the only one who sees the irony in all this?
In keeping myself informed of the progress of the storm, I found that stupidity didn’t stop at kitesurfing. Two people drowned on Thursday, one in Duval County and the other in Volusia. How, you ask? It seems they decided to go to the beach for a swim in the middle of the storm. Where was Fay on Thursday 8am? According to NOAA it was situated 30 miles off Daytona. On the East coast of FL, in Volusia County. And Duval is a mere 100 miles North from there. According to the NOAA advisory “storm force winds extend 150 miles”. Do the math. What is the probability that Duval County be affected by”storm force winds” the same time that Volusia was?
These folks are, by no means, the only casualties that ocurred during Tropical Storm Fay. There are other deaths and some near misses that never made the news. My heart goes out to them. I am really sorry Kevin got slammed into a building and I truly feel for the families that lost their loved ones. Drowning is a horrible way to go and I’m sure Kevin was not having a good time in ICU. But the question begs to be answered- what were they doing out there to begin with?
During every storm or hurricane you will find the news littered with images of people hanging out at the beach, surfing, kitesurfing, bodyboarding or just walking in the rain- with their kids no less! Interviews are made with these people, some are local, some are not and all are having a good time. “This is nothing” they say, “a little wind, a little rain and it’s all cool”. Those in the ocean are having a good time and those on the sand or on the boardwalk are having fun watching them. The kids are sheltered by the false sense of security their parents’ presence gives them and the adults are in turn sheltered by their ignorance, lack of sense, arrogance, stupidity…pick an adjective!
These comments sound harsh and even somewhat judgementaI. Hell, I’ll admit it, they are. I am sure the family members of those who were seriously affected wouldn’t appreciate them. However, if you think about this, hurt feelings and false pride aside, you might just see a grain of truth in what I say.
We are responsible for our own actions. Our desicions will always have consequences and these are our responsibility. We can’t blame these consequences on the weather or that we are just “impulsive”, “immature” or “irresponsible”. Boys will be boys doesn’t cut it. These are justifications. Excuses will not bring those dead people back to their loved ones! What we do, the choices we make, carry the potential to bring about huge changes and we need to accept that we are accountable for these.
We are responsible.
Storms are not big, bad, sentient monsters that are out to get you. Fay did not come to Florida to kill people, nor leave devastation in it’s wake just like it didn’t come to Florida to visit Disney World. The thought itself is ridiculous! Yet, if you listen to the way the weather is reported on the news, you will find that, more often than not, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters and events are depicted as these big, bad beings that “hobble“, “Kill“, “limp” and are “menacing“. A storm doesn’t “hobble” or “limp”, a storm has no legs. A hurricane doesn’t kill people, just like Fay didn’t drown those people on the beach. The way language is being used, makes it seem that the natural disaster is to blame and the people affected by it are victims of the situation. This way of thinking permeates our society and will have us believe that we can do nothing about the circumstances we find ourselves in. Blame someone else, something else, and you are off the hook of responsibility! You aren’t to blame! There is nothing you can do about it, you are a victim of circumstance! Poor you!!!
In the end, this is not a matter of blaming, finger pointing or finding fault, it’s really a matter of discernment; owning up to what is ours and what is not. No, we can’t do anything about 100 mph gusts of wind, but we could avoid tying ourselves to a giant kite and being slammed into buldings by one. We can’t do anything about storm churned beaches but we don’t have to dive headfirst into the water in the middle of a storm… These people were not victims of anything other than their own arrogance and/or irresponsibility; they were victims of their own choices.
Why did they go out there? No answer to that question would be flattering or kind. I live down the street from a mental health facility and not one of their patients were reported hurt or dead… Kinda makes you wonder.
Victim mentality will get us nowhere; individually nor as a society. We need to accept the responsibility that comes along with the power of choice. We just might find growing up is not such a bad thing after all…