After Sunday's sudden, violent storm, a day without power pointed out to me how dependent we all are on the benefits of civilization. Turns out we were some of the lucky ones. I don't know anyone who lives in my county who didn't lose power during the storm. Some folks got it back within a few hours. Some (like my family) only had to wait a day. Some folks are still waiting.
But some people lost more than power. The storm killed a total of four people. Killed as in the storm directly caused their deaths, not storm-related things like the ambulance couldn't get there in time after a heart attack. A woman driving a car was crushed by a falling tree. A man on a jet ski was killed by a wave, a man at at picnic was hit by lightning, and (saddest of all), a little boy walking back from a pool with his family was killed by a falling tree branch.
One reason there were so many direct deaths is that there was no real forecast of what to expect. Certainly we had heard there might be a thunderstorm, but in DC the standard forecast all summer long is basically: hazy, hot, and humid, with a chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. So on Sunday afternoon you had guys on jet skis, families walking, and a gardening group holding a picnic. When the storm struck, the victims were all out in it, and vulnerable to attack.
Life is fragile, and we are all here for a short time, in the scheme of things. No matter what technological wonders the future holds, I think it's a safe bet that nature will still have the upper hand for a good long while.