…who have been leaving such eloquent comments on the various stories about the Oklahoma tornadoes, I have but one thing to say:
May you all die in a [STRIKE]fire[/STRIKE] twister.
Hard though it may be to believe, the people of Oklahoma aren’t inbred cretins, much though it may shock you to hear that. They are, in fact, not much different from people elsewhere in the US. And believe it or not, most of them have more experience with, and knowledge about, tornadoes than you do.
No, the people who live in Tornado Alley (and it’s lesser known cousin, Dixie Alley) are not idiots. There are, in fact, perfectly good reasons to live here. In any case, we are not going to be evacuating 1/3 of the landmass of the continental United States any time soon. There is no place on this continent that is not at risk of natural disasters, many of which do way more damage than a tornado and kill far more people on average when they happen, so it wouldn’t even make sense to do so. Besides, where do you think most of your food comes from?
And why are you so dammed fixated on basements? Basements are expensive, compromise the structural integrity of the house if they are installed incorrectly, and offer suboptimal protection from tornadoes (especially violent ones). It makes perfect sense for people in the southern Great Plains and the Deep South, where basements are not needed for structural reasons because the frost line is shallow, not to want one. Why pay $20,000 for a basement when you can pay $5000 for a specially-designed tornado shelter which offers superior protection? Oh, and basements and/or tornado shelters save lives, not property, so stop whining about the cost of the damage. We’d all be paying for that even if every house in Oklahoma had a basement, as basements don’t magically keep houses from toppling over. There is no affordable residential construction which will withstand an EF 5 tornado. And requiring everyone in Tornado Alley and Dixie Alley to live in the sort of heavy concrete bunkers which WOULD have a chance of withstanding an EF 5 twister would cost way more than just rebuilding the (relatively few) houses which each year get destroyed by tornadoes.
And here’s a special shoutout for the CNN.com European commentators (particularly those hailing from a certain island famous for, among other things, its unusually placid weather): timber DOES NOT automatically equal flimsy. If a timber-framed house is flimsy, it’s because the contractor cheapened out when building it, not because wood is an inherently inferior building material. It’s perfectly possible to build a timber-framed house that will hold up to wild weather (I live in one). And that residential concrete, brick, and stone construction you are all so very proud of? I’ve seen it firsthand, and I’ve seen photographs of what happens to such construction when it’s hit by a violent tornado. Alas, I can’t put up a link to it (as the footage is on a DVD I own), but think “bombing of Dresden” and you’ll have the right general impression. If you think your house will hold up to having two-by-fours, bricks, metal I-beams, washing machines, refrigerators, cars, and tractor-trailer rigs repeatedly hitting it at 150+ miles per hour, you are frankly delusional. When God decides He wants to mix Himself a smoothie, He uses a blender that’s more than up for the job.
(I’m all for sensible discussions of whether building codes should be changed in various parts of the US to better withstand the local natural disasters. Personally I think all houses in my part of the world should be built to withstand at least EF 1 tornado damage, and be fitted with some sort of safe space that can be used to protect the residents from an EF 5. But I understand why those who make less money than I do might feel differently on that issue, and in any case there’s no excuse for the willful and aggressive ignorance and smug condescension so many of those readers at CNN.com and elsewhere on the web are exuding.)
Whew! I feel better now.