Sunday, August 23, 2009

A hurricane is not a show.

I was saddened and angered to hear that a seven-year-old girl was swept out to sea by Hurricane Bill. The child was with her family, on a rocky coastal overlook, watching the waves. The parents will have to live with this mistake for the rest of their lives. I guess they thought it would be pretty or interesting for the children to see the force of nature. Perhaps they considered it educational or just a weekend diversion.

Up and down the east coast, you can find reports today of people who drowned or nearly drowned in high waves and rip currents exacerbated by the passing hurricane. Surfers always think they're safe, but the fact is that no one, even the most experienced swimmer, is truly safe when a violent storm passes by. The waves are volatile, the winds gusting and changing, the tides higher than normal.

These deaths were completely preventable. These people could have stayed home, stayed away from the beaches, and watched storm video on The Weather Channel or the internet.

In addition to the lives lost, Coast Guard teams and lifeguards put their own safety at risk to rescue or try to rescue people who willingly put themselves in the danger zone for a pretty view or a bitchin' wave.

No one will learn from these tragedies. The next time a storm passes by, people will flock to the beaches and coastlines to see for themselves the force of nature, to ride the waves in defiance of the storm's wrath. Some of them will never come home.

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