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Nature 1, humanity 0

In science fiction we often write about the future in ways that show humans triumphing over the limitations nature imposes— living virtually forever, cloning animals and people, leaving the planet, traveling to the stars. And indeed, technology today has advanced enough that it's difficult to remember how far we've come. I certainly remember life before cell phones and the Internet, for example, but I'm also very used to advance notice of bad weather.

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.





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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
bogwitch64
Jul. 28th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
We are a pimple on nature's back. Hard to get at, but ultimately, in the end, she will prevail.

I like losing power once in a while as a reminder. We take so much of our technological advances for granted. It's good to not only be reminded that nature is a FORCE, but that technology is a gift.
karen_w_newton
Jul. 28th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
I prefer to be reminded on a beautiful day when having all the windows open brings in a lovely breeze rather than stultifying humidity and air that I have to chew before breathing. -)

That said, when the kids were small, we would get out board games when the power went out, and play by candlelight. They loved it. If the lights came on while were playing they wanted to turn them off and pretend they were off a while longer.
bogwitch64
Jul. 28th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
Part one--Hahahahaa! Yes, you are indeed right. That would be a better scenario. Here on rural Rt. 7, we get plenty of those non-storm related blackouts due to motorists who become so taken by the scenery that they hit a telephone pole. (Thankfully, there has been only one death is all nearly 8 years I've lived here.)

part two--that's adorable. And you know, my kids have done the same thing. When they were small, of course. Now it's, "Finally!" as they turn on the TV, computer, or video games.
tracy_d74
Jul. 28th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
Nature is a FORCE for sure. Living in OK and growing up in TX I am soooo used to having storm related outages at least once a year. I take it in stride. I read a book (I always do that regardless) go hang out with a friend, sleep. Talk to neighbors. The only time I HATE it is if the storm happens after I went to the grocery store and I am without power for three days. I hate throwing NEW food.
karen_w_newton
Jul. 28th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
It's quite true that throwing away new is worse than throwing away old. My college roommate drove a really old VW bug. AT one point, she was driving in the mouintains and was about to cross a bridge when a gust of wind pushed her off the road and rolled her into a ditch. She totalled the car but what really rankled was that she has just recovered the seats
tracy_d74
Jul. 28th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
OH! I would have been miffed. I had really bad vertigo a few years ago and started losing abilities (still have hearing loss in one ear) and everyone thought I had a tumor or was having a stroke. The thing I kept thinking, "People get tumors. People have strokes. But I just graduated with a Ph.D. I can't lose my brain. If I was going to get a tumor, it needed to happen BEFORE I graduated." My friends rolled their eyes. (Obviously I didn't have a brain tumor. Just three months of disabling vertigo.)
mtlawson
Jul. 28th, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I remember the tornadoes in April 1974 --my mom was shepherding us into the basement and I looked out the screen door to see one crossing the Ohio River.

Now, my own kids have experience of what happened when the remnants of Ike collided with a cold air mass over us, and we ended up with hurricane force winds from SW of Louisville up through to Cleveland. We were without power for three days, and phone/internet service for another day after that. Things like rotten, spoiled food, uprooted trees, downed power lines, and destroyed homes will definitely remind you who is ultimately in control. And it ain't us.
karen_w_newton
Jul. 29th, 2010 12:15 am (UTC)
Sounds like good practice for writing a post-apocalyptic novel, tho.
bondo_ba
Jul. 29th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Eye-opening indeed. I don't recall the last time I paid any attention at all to a storm warning.
karen_w_newton
Jul. 29th, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
Me neither. I was at a meeting of my writer's group, about 50 miles away from home when the storm hit. The first warning I had was my daughter sending me a text that the power was out at our house, then another one that she and my husband and the pets were in the basement because of the tornado warning.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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