Don't waste the lives of first responders on people who refuse to evacuate

If you own a television, a laptop or a phone, it was probably impossible for you to escape that news that projections for the track of Hurricane Florence have gone from terrible to really, really terrible. At this point, the computer models project that the storm will stall right off the coast and then drift slowly south before turning inland. That means the Carolinas could be facing literally days of winds above 100 mph combined with storm surge and inland flooding at deadly levels. There is a mandatory evacuation order in place for more than a million people. (ABC News)

Millions are being told to evacuate as the North and South Carolina coasts prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm that continues to strengthen into “an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night.”

The National Hurricane Center is offering that warning on Tuesday morning as hurricane watches and storm surge watches were issued for the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina for the first time.

No matter how this plays out it appears that nothing short of a miracle will see this storm being anything short of a disaster. And yet, as usual, local news outlets managed to find at least 100 people on the coast near the expected target area who are saying that they will stay and ride the storm out. CNN interviewed Michael Cramer, Town Manager of Carolina Beach, North Carolina this morning and he said they were appealing to the stubborn residents to get out by tonight, but if they refuse there’s not much officials can do. They have too much on their plates at the moment to go around dragging people out of their homes (and likely being sued for it later).

This brings up the question we wind up dealing with every storm season. How much of an obligation do our first responders have to risk their own lives in an effort to save people from their own stupidity? Local officials have already been putting out the word that after a particular deadline arrives, they won’t be sending anyone out to respond to 911 calls until the brunt of the hurricane has passed. And from the looks of the current forecast, that could be days. In the meantime, assuming some of these maniacs wind up getting themselves killed, will the state and federal governments be blamed for an “insufficient response?”

Perhaps even more to the point, police, firemen and medical personnel tend to be the types who rush toward danger when human lives are on the line. If somebody calls because they’re stuck in the attic and the water is reaching the roof, it’s not hard to imagine them grimly heading out into the storm. And then you’re in danger of having the people who are supposed to protect you dying in the floodwaters as well. If emergency management officials have done everything humanly possible to prepare and ordered people to evacuate, those who stay behind (or their next of kin) should have no recourse in either the courts or the media to come back later assigning blame.

Of course, blame will still be assigned and that’s happening before the storm even arrives. Check out the Washington Post today and see who’s really to blame for this hurricane being so bad. On second thought, don’t even bother. They’re blaming Trump.

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