Do most people "prefer" the disasters they know?

Sounds weird.

What I mean is that I was watching private home footage of the Japan quake itself, and I was thinking that it is probably very scary to people who have never experienced earthquakes. I’ve noticed very deep fear in people who have never been through them.

I live in LA and have my whole life, and I’ve been through many, including a few very powerful ones, and unless they wake me out of a sound sleep (and they have), they don’t really scare me all that much. I know they will be over soon, and I sort of enjoy them…it’s a trip to feel the whole world move.

But I also think that (USUALLY) earthquakes in California (vs. third world countries) aren’t really all that dangerous to human life, and the danger they do present is largely avoidable for most people. I do NOT want to be in a high rise building during an earthquake, or on or under a freeway overpass, but aside from that, I feel pretty comfortable that I can be somewhere safe.

But that’s the only natural disaster I have experienced. I have never been through a hurricane, tornado, tsunami or other flood, and they all scare the shit out of me. Especially tornados… what the fuck? Some crazy funnel cloud randomly zipping around at hundreds of miles per hour picking up everything and throwing it around!!! (That assinine movie about tornados had so many stupid things in it, but I think the stupidest was Helen Hunt and her costar doing two WTF things: one, saving themselves by “hanging on”- right- and OPENING THEIR EYES. Are you FUCKING kidding??? Seems pretty obvious to me that if nothing else, tornadoes full of debris at high speeds is going to BLIND your stupid ass IMMEDIATELY.)
And I’ve noticed in casual conversations I’ve had that people tend to fear their “local” disasters less than the unknown. I think that’s at work with me, but I also think that I’m kinda right, in the US, that a more unpredictably dangerous situation is a tornado or hurricane, rather than an earthquake. Plus earthquakes are so short, there’s hardly time to know they are happening, much less get hurt, vs. the long periods of time associated with the others. (Of course, that’s what scares some people: complete lack of ability to predict or prepare.)

So do you fear certain disasters more than others, and is there a correlation between your fear and your personal experience, in either direction?

POLL COMING! POll question will be: which natural disaster do you fear the LEAST.

I’m not sure what to answer. I fear floods the least, but what does it mean to “experience” one? I live directly across (and up hill from) a river, so our road flooded and closed four times in three years. But other than not being to come and go as I pleased, I only had to vacuum a couple of inches of water out of the basement. That’s a pretty lackluster experience… I suppose that people will have difficulty with the earthquake answer too, given how many under 3 earthquakes there are and how few big ones.

I lived in Tornado Alley most of my life. I have seen quite a few and been around the after-effects.
They just aren’t as scary to me as the earth moving underneath me. Tornados cut a relatively small path. They are scary and awesome, and I know much more about them than damn near any other natural disaster type thing.
More knowledge=less scared, IMHO.

I fear tornadoes the least, though we recently had a tornado come through that caused a friend to go without power for eight hours and destroyed a house not far from another friend’s house. The thought of the whole world shaking, or water over my head when I’m not in a lake or river freak me the hell out, though.

I’ve been in earthquakes in Indonesia and Afghanistan and let me tell you: if you have ever been in a reasonably big earthquake on the sixth floor of a building in Kabul built to local “standards,” they will scare the ever loving shit out of you.

I’ve experienced tornadoes and hurricanes, and seriously debated which answer to give. Tornadoes are scary as hell when you’re experiencing them (and the one I experienced was only a baby one–I can’t imagine what an F5 would be like.) And the unpredictability of them can be scary, although the technology these days is pretty amazing. (Aside: You can just tell the meteorologists here in Oklahoma LOVE it when tornado weather comes around because they get to play with all of their cool little high-tech toys.) But like **loshan **noted above, usually a tornado hits a pretty narrow path, and if you know what do to, you can survive them given just a couple of minutes of warning.

And growing up in Oklahoma, I’ve gotten pretty inured to the tornado sirens going off. My sister still laughs about the time she had visitors from Seattle, and there was a tornado watch, and her friends were insistent we take shelter. For a watch, not even a warning! For me, I don’t even take shelter when the sirens go off unless I can see on the TV that there’s something near me. Once during a storm I posted my Facebook status as something like, “You know you’re an Okie when the sirens are going off and you’re still on Facebook” and I got about twenty responses in the next ten minutes from like-minded people.

Hurricanes are bigger and cut a much, much bigger area of damage, but these days you get what, like almost a week’s warning? That’s why they got my vote.

If we had a “what scares you most” poll, for me it would be a tsunami. Absolutely terrifying.

This, only the opposite. I lived in Alaska for 40 years, I wasn’t there for the '64 quake, but there’ve been some pretty hard ones, including on in '73 which did quite a bit of damage downtown and was a bit scary.

The wind now, some invisible noisy THING swooping down from God knows where, touching down at its whim…GAH! At least with earthquakes there’s a reasonable path, they’re along normal faultlines, you can get to higher ground and all that rot. The one thing that does bother me (as I’ve moved to yet another earthquake prone state), is being under one of those freeways. There are few tunnels, and no raised highways in Alaska, being in one of those tunnels would be the worst thing if an earthquake hit, a big one.

And, I just realized I accidentally voted the first option, when I meant the second.

It’s precisely because I live in California and have experienced earthquakes that I am afraid of them. They come without warning and, if large, are terrifying to experience. You must have a different idea of fun then I do if you “sort of enjoy them.”

I’ve experienced one tornado and one hurricane. I’ll take the hurricane any day of the week.

I picked “tornadoes, but never experienced them”.

Tornadoes used to scare the crap out of me. I was six years old when a violent tornado hit a couple towns over from where I lived, in the middle of the night, in November. It freaked me out pretty badly because at the time I though that tornadoes were a spring afternoon thing, and would always be easy to spot, in the daylight. The idea that tornadoes could occur at any time, anywhere (I do not live in the traditional “Tornado Alley”) was terrifying to me.

But I eventually got tired of being scared so I did some research to learn about tornadoes and severe weather (and went on to study meteorology in college), and I learned a few interesting things. First of all, as a few people mentioned, each tornado affects only a relatively small area, and the chance that any one location will be affected by one is incredibly small. Second, most tornadoes are weak, ranking at F0 or F1 on the Fujita Scale - still dangerous if you are in the open or in a trailer, but taking cover in a sturdy building will protect you well in most cases. Also, warning systems for severe weather have improved a lot over the past few decades - it was not unusual as late as the early '90s for tornadoes to go unwarned until they were on the ground. Nowadays 20 to 30 minute warnings are common, and with radar you can track storms pretty well.

Hurricanes…I’ve been through several, and even if you’re inland they can be horrible due to flooding and wind damage. No thanks. I’m sure most earthquakes, like tornadoes, are also weak but they’re also very difficult to warn for (at least you can see weather coming). I don’t want to ever have to go through a tsunami. A friend of mine’s daughter survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and what she had to say about it was pretty horrifying.

Being awakened suddenly I find them scary. Sitting at my desk and the earth starts shakin’? Nah. Easy. (especially when they aren’t too big. The big ones were when I was asleep, too) And the ones I really like are the slow rolls, where it feels like the earth is a boat being gently rocked…

The only natural disaster I’ve lived through is a weakening hurricane that was probably on the edge of TS/Cat 1 when it came through our area. A microburst took off the tops of a bunch of power poles and flattened a few trees a block away, and there was some more general tree/roof damage in my larger area, but no one died.

I guess you could say I’ve lived through some “blizzards” which dumped several feet of snow at a time, but the temperature wasn’t really COLD like in the upper Midwest. I think of blizzards I’ve lived through as fun inconveniences - you bundle up like crazy, shovel the walks every few hours, drink lots of hot chocolate, and don’t go anywhere for a few days. Even when the power went out for a number of hours (not days, fortunately), it was a matter of wearing layers and bundling up. However, I would not be so blase about a true Midwest blizzard of a couple feet of snow followed by blowing snow and sub-zero temperatures. You freeze to death a lot quicker when visibility is minimal and the windchill is -50.

The one thing that scares the ever loving shit out of me is fire. Among other things, being burned with a side of smoke inhalation sounds like a really shitty way to go, perhaps one of my most feared ways. Fires can also move and change direction very quickly compared to, say, hurricanes or snowstorms. Fortunately, the Central Valley is less prone than the hills to wildfires, but they still occur. Significant earthquakes are also rarer in the Valley than on the coast.

Blizzards are probably my least scary “disaster” and definitely the one I’ve experience the most. But I wasn’t sure if it should count as a natural disaster so I didn’t pick other.

I’ve been through one house fire and that was bad. But I don’t consider that a natural disaster.

I’ve seen one minor tornado, some minor floods, and some minor earthquakes. Never experienced a hurricane or a tsunami. Of those choices I picked earthquake as the least scary.

I should have clarified that, although they scare me, I do not think of house fires as natural disasters, just large wildfire/brush fires. I suppose some of those are human-caused, but I figure there are enough lightning-caused fires (with natural drought as a contributing factor) to squeeze them in.

Gotcha. Yes, I agree in some areas wildfires would qualify as natural disasters.

I’ve never experienced any natural disaster, and to be perfectly honest, they ALL scare the bejesus outta me.

Whilst a river-flood might give me warning time to get the hell out before life and limb are threatened, there’s the prospect of the clean up to contend with…I dunno whether I’d prefer everything to be washed away in the first place. :frowning:

I’ve experienced one mild earthquake (4.3) and several tornados that came far too close for comfort.

While I really, really, really don’t want to experience any of the natural disasters you listed, a tornado is the one that starts me crying if I think about it too hard. On the other hand, it’s also the one that I know exactly how to handle, so I’d prefer to be through another of those than to face the unknown.

We don’t really get natural disasters in Toronto. We had an earthquake last year that caused absolutely no damage but emptied out a few buildings. We have occasional tornados but they’re very usually very different than what someone in Tornado Alley experiences. They hang around just long enough to rip off one garage roof and then it’s over.

I have a friend who was next door to a house that was destroyed in the 1985 tornado and she has reacted the opposite of your hypothesis, she is absolutely terrified of tornados and anytime the sky gets purple she gets very tense and overwrought.

As for me, I’m not particularly frightened of any of them but I haven’t experienced any of them either. Watching the videos or looking at the pictures makes me sad for the people and I can see why they would be frightened but it doesn’t make me fearful. I suspect that if I was actually in one it would be different :slight_smile:

I prefer my disasters to come with a warning, so I picked ‘hurricane’, even though I’ve never experienced one. Unless you live on an island, you can get away from a hurricane before it strikes. Tornadoes are capricious and arbitrary, and earthquakes give zero warning before you suddenly find yourselve wearing Good Friday’s dinner, dodging dishes and cans, and flying across the room, as I did in Anchorage in 1964. While a serious earthquake won’t necessarily kill you, the PTS is a bitch.

Yeah, I think there’s something to the thesis of the OP - I live in South Carolina and have seen a real live big hurricane up close and personal (Hugo) and I am least afraid of hurricanes. However, I might be least afraid of them anyway, because you can see 'em coming! Days away! Weeks, really! Get the fuck out, morons! Earthquakes and tornadoes, those fuckers could come at you any minute. There could be one behind you right now. Hurricanes, now, those are polite and considerate natural disasters. They send you an engraved response card and then they generally show up when the party starts and leave when your invitation suggested.

ETA - second most intense Atlantic hurricane ever, bitches! Granted, I don’t live in Charleston, but we saw the eye.