How much do we owe people that ignore incoming storms and "ride out the storm"

The news about incoming hurricane Florence got me thinking about this, again. I’ve pondered it before, around past disasters.

Hurricane Florence has been in the news for the last couple of days. On Tuesday, the governor of South Caroline issued an evacuation order for the entire sea coast of that state, the order has been adjusted as the storm has gotten closer and predictions have gotten tighter.

Yet still people decide to ride out the storm at home. Ok, that’s their choice. We have a whole thread on why people might chose to do that.

But once a flood/hurricane/wild fire/blizzard etc has been identified as a major threat, and warning has been given, how much support does local/state/federal government owe to those people, DURING the disaster. If you chose to stay in your home in California until it is surrounded by wild fire, should the government be risking the lives of rescuers to come save you? If you decide you’ll throw some plywood over the windows, buy a few flats of water and extra batteries, and stay at home during a hurricane, should police/fire/national guard/etc be risking their lives to get you out of your fully flooded house, while 100 MPH winds whip around them?

Yes, we should be trying to help or save people after the disaster, when the risk to first responders should be more controllable, but what about during?

This doesn’t apply to people caught in spur of the moment events (although I feel sort of the same way about people that

Personally, I believe that if you chose to stay, despite being warned, then you have also decided to take on the risks associated with that, and that others should not have to face high risks due to your miscalculations. With all of the information we have available to us today, it’s pretty hard to reasonably claim that you didn’t know there was a storm coming, or that the wild fire you’ve been smelling is closing in on you.

I have a lot of respect for the people that are first responders and rescuers. It takes a lot of guts and training and dedication to do these jobs. The rest of us should at least be working to mitigate the risks they take, saving us. I expect that the next week will be filled with stories of heroic actions taken to save the victims of hurricane Florence. I hope that rescuers don’t end up paying the price for this actions.

People who have the means to leave (a vehicle, money to pay for a motel or who perhaps know someone somewhere else they can stay with, etc.) don’t get my sympathy, but those who don’t do.

So…you want to means test your compassion for people who are suffering.

Are they worthy of rescue? Is that it?

Ya, I kinda do. Certainly, if you can’t get out of the disaster area I’m a hella more sympathetic. If you have the means and chose not to, then not so much.

FYI. I write this as someone who has been thru at least a dozen typhoons. None were epically bad even though I took a few direct hits (Taipei, Hong Kong and Tokyo). That said, China at least have thousands that die in typhoons all the time when folks are in the wrong place, wrong time, don’t have means to duck, and live in flimsy housing.

In at least one of the California fires those who chose to stay were told that they were not getting rescued. They all had ample means to leave. The government has an obligation of assisting people to leave who can’t do it themselves, but anyone who can leave and refuses should be on their own,

Owe? Nothing.

But owing is IMO the wrong question.

Then what is the right question?
It seems to me that the government has a duty to/owes lots of things to it’s people. But that includes it’s rescuers. One of the things owed to the rescuers is to not put them into unnecessary danger.

Well, we could means-test it after the fact. Rescue them first, and charge them for the rescue if they can afford it.

That could also have a deterrent effect on the behavior of people who can visualize the possibility of being charged many thousands of dollars more clearly than they can apparently visualize the possibility of being drowned in a storm surge.

I have to agree with both of these.

I don’t think rescuers should be going out into the thick of it. When I did my first aid training, the first thing to consider was whether you yourself were in danger before you approached anyone. That isn’t anything to do with decisions made by others, it’s just a practical consideration to wait until it’s died down/passed over before going in to assist.

That sounds like it makes sense, but I don’t like the idea of charging people for life-saving services. Could the funds be earmarked for disaster relief aid? That would work for me.

I have complete sympathy for people who want to protect their homes, though.

I would say if they don’t have the means to leave, but want to, efforts should be made to help them.

If they have the means to leave, but choose not to, I think it’s probably best to try to keep the option open for them to change their mind as long as it is possible without creating greater risk to someone else’s life.

I’m interested to see information to the contrary, but:

Governmental first responders do not go out and rescue people during an active, ongoing disaster. The answer to the OP is “During the disaster, nothing is owed to those staying behind.” That’s a big part of what a mandatory evacuation means: that governmental services will be on hiatus.

Now once the storm passes and the winds die down … then first-response work will ensue in relative (if not complete) safety. The famous shots of people being airlifted off of their roofs after Katrina burn memorable images into people’s minds, but those kinds of rescues are far from typical or common.

“Shanna, they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash.”

Wildfires sometimes come faster than people can reasonably be expected to flee beforehand. It’s like asking people to flee an area with a tornado warning. Of course in those situations there’s little rescuers can do anyway, but wait for the threat to decrease.

But when there’s sufficient warning to escape beforehand, those who don’t shouldn’t expect rescue. If they can be rescued with reasonable risk, then let the would-be rescuers decide for themselves.

Agreed, although I’m willing to give them a Darwin Award for their bravery.

Actually, I’m OK with rescuing such folks as long as the rescue effort doesn’t put the lives of the rescuers in significant danger. I would have no problem levying a fine against them, assuming they simply ignored the evacuation order frivolously.

And this situation is happening with Florence:

I have a friend that rode it out in Marshallberg. He knew the risks, but he’s fine. He made his choice, and it worked out.

But I wouldn’t have said the emergency teams should have risked lives to rescue him if things went bad. Thems the breaks.

Like the famous case of Harry R Truman. Everyone told him to leave, but he knew better. I wonder if, as he was dying, choking on superheated air and being covered with volcanic ash, if he said to himself, “You know, maybe they were right?”

How are rescuers supposed to tell the difference between people who chose to stay, and people who wanted to leave but couldn’t?

Do they have to carefully question every person in a desperate situation before they rescue them? And leave them if they turn out to be ‘undeserving’?

I think before a hurricane there is plenty of time for those who can’t get out to ask for assistance. But during the actual event, you’re asking first responders to put their lives in danger and possibly increase the death toll.

I think if you were asked to evacuate, you were told to evacuate, and still didn’t, then you made your choice. Others shouldn’t pay for your poor decision. I like to idea of charging people for rescue if they could evacuate but didn’t.

My local news had an interesting thought…how much of this “I’m staying put” is driven by social media, in that they wanted to stay behind to get the good pics to upload to Facebook or livestream on Twitter?