Looking at the pictures coming from Louisiana and Mississippi it occurs to me that maybe now some people in the blue costal enclaves and in Europe might get an inkling why America red staters like their SUVs and guns.
The conditions in the costal areas hit by Katrina are bad but are not unprecedented. The American mid-West has the most variable and extreme weather of ANY region on earth. This is no exagerration. The lowest and fastest drops in barometric pressure ever recorded occurred over the Great Lakes. 95% of the tornados that occur over land happen in North America and the vast majority of those occur in the mid-West. The weather systems that spawn tornados create a lot damage and dangerous conditions over vast areas and they are very common. In the winter, blizzards and ice storms strike all the way down into Texas.
I can personally attest that it far better to be in a large vehicle like an SUV with good clearance when caught out in such a storm. A mini-van catches the wind and bogs in the water much faster. Fallen tree branches stop cars. A person might only need an SUV’s protection a few times a year but when you need it, you really need it. When a big disaster does occur like a Hurricane, a blizzard or widespread flooding, SUVs and pickup trucks are often the only functioning means of transportation in the area. Urban vehicles like sedans and mini-vans can’t move safely.
The loss of top-down civil order is also not terribly uncommon. The response of authorities after hurricane Andrew was notoriously slow. Citizens organized themselves to provide protection from criminals, looters and to direct traffic. They used their personal weapons to do so. It is not uncommon to have law enforcement effectively paralyzed over several counties or even entire states following severe weather. An armed citizenry helps maintain law and order in crises both large and small.
The physical environment shapes the people who live in it and strongly influences the choices they make. People who don’t have experience with that environment descend into hopeless parochialism when trying to understand the choices made by the people who do. An SUV might be nothing but a status affectation in Manhattan but in storm plagued mid-West it is far more practical. Personal weapons might seem useless to a European who is never outside the protection of a (hopefully) benevolent state but an America mid-Westerner cannot always rely on the state for protection.
People in the current disaster zone, especially those in rural areas, who have an SUV and a gun are much better off than those that don’t. Even those who don’t will benefit from the transportation and protection that their more fortunate neighbors can provide. Giving as many people as possible the ability to move and protect themselves is the best possible protection in the event of widespread disaster.
John Carolan was sitting on his porch in the thick, humid darkness just before midnight Tuesday when three or four young men, one with a knife and another with a machete, stopped in front of his fence and pointed to the generator humming in the front yard, he said.
One said, “We want that generator,” he recalled.
“I fired a couple of rounds over their heads with a .357 Magnum,” Mr. Carolan recounted Wednesday. “They scattered.”
He smiled and added, “You’ve heard of law west of the Pecos. This is law west of Canal Street.”