To Stay or To Go…

From the start I said it would be either an annoying (drive, $, time, traffic, etc) 2 day over-nighter in Houston or we would evacuate for days probably at least a week.  It would be much like our Gustav experience except that this storm was only a category 1.  We were prepared to evacuate first thing Monday morning when it going to be a Cat 2, but then as we were getting ready to roll out, it was downgraded.  We were already one of the few that were going to leave. Our neighborhood was extremely laissez-faire-faire about the whole situation and our respective jobs had given little insights into whether we would be let out of work and for how long.

I now wish we had gone. However, at the time no one in my neighborhood was leaving and to be honest going anywhere would be pricey. Driving 2 cars or even 1 to Houston (our nearest guest bedroom that could house both of us and our 3 animals) would easily cost us $200+.  It seemed far more reasonable to charge $100 at the grocery store to stock up on water and supplies than it did to evacuate. Sure there would be some discomforts, but it would all be manageable.

But they never tell you…or maybe you just never remember the little pains and annoyances…we never remember how spoiled we are–or we would have left.  All was alright until the power shut off.  3 days later…everyone I know is scrounging for power and to find a cool place to nap. At least we are getting lots of naps. However, I have discovered I can not live without internet…or the great outdoors.  You just cant take both from me. And this is what this storm did. I can not stay inside for 48 hours straight and remain sane. As a sociologist, I am extremely aware of my privilege. I am over-educated and I have access to a great deal of information, credit, resources and flexibility related to my job.  In fact, it is sort of insulting that I even whined about no internet.  Especially when there are many out there who do not have the options we have.

Many are not so lucky or fortunate. Throughout this storm we had cell service and access to Twitter and FaceBook via our smart phones. My mom sent me weather updates via text, as did our other friends and relatives.  In the course of entertaining myself I found one article on Twitter especially interesting and relevant. It was called Storm Psychology: Why do some people stay behind? This article is quick to highlight many factors that push one to stay, especially those related to access to resources.  “The fact is, many people lack the resources to escape.”  Issues related to the lack of resources are very well known and have largely been studied by social scientists and disaster researchers. They are very real. Even for my household which would be considered above average economic concerns played a part, however, this article also touches on the effect community and state has on our decisions to stay or go.

Two big reasons that played into our decision to stay were that we had little information from our jobs (both dictated by the state) about what would be expected of us and we didnt know anyone else leaving. “And, as the thinking goes, if your neighbor tells you he’s staying, then you might stay, too”  Tack on to that our end of the month finances…and well…we stayed. Let’s just say, I wish I had read this article prior to our decision and in the future I will think about things in a different way. All that being said, it has been an experience–learning and otherwise.


One Response to To Stay or To Go…

  1. Nice post. It will be interesting to see comparisons that seem inevitable in the coming days between responses and experiences from Katrina and Isaac. Your post here will be a contribution to that, I imagine. Glad to hear you both made it through alive and well–and still relatively sane. 🙂

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