The path of hurricane Earl up the East Coast may bring fear and panic instead of calm preparation. Coastal residents can adopt an attitude that can meet nature's challenges.
What should be a spirit of readiness and caution appears to be slipping into panic, especially with fresh memories of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which hit the Gulf Coast five years ago. Unchecked, such fear can spread like cyclonic wind.
Is there an antidote to weather fright?
Certainly government officials, especially FEMA and top weather experts, must be well trained to word their warnings carefully and be precise in their advice on taking precautionary measures. They must also calm fears by citing what steps will be taken during and after a hurricane hits, such as making sure health and housing needs will be met.
Those most vulnerable to disasters – the poor, aged, and infirm – are most in need of help. That has a way of opening the heart and bringing calm to dispel any hysteria.
With Earl heading near Cape Cod, it is worth remembering that the Puritans first sailed into those waters in 1630 from England with similar trepidations about the brute wilderness they were entering. Their leader, John Winthrop, wrote to his fellow passengers: “Every man [and woman] must afford his [and her] help to another in every want or distress.”