President of the Unbearable Shitheads (POTUS)

Hurricane Michael just roared ashore in the Florida panhandle with sustained winds at 155 MPH. Trump and his droopier-than-usual ‘do held a press availability to demonstrate that he can watch a radar blob cross a screen and utter inanities about it. A reporter asked if Trump would cancel his MAGA circle jerk in PA tonight to monitor the situation in Florida:

“Not my president” became a popular rallying cry in the days after Trump was sleazed into office. While certainly an understandable sentiment, it’s inaccurate in a sense because, thanks to the slaver vestigial Electoral College, voter suppression and foreign interference, Trump is technically the President of the United States.

But as he’s demonstrated time and time again, Trump considers citizens who don’t support him (the majority!) as enemies, not constituents. He rails against “angry mobs” that are in fact patriotic citizens exercising their right to peaceably assemble and express themselves. And he’d rather go jerk off with a bunch of slack-jawed cultists in Pennsylvania than show respect for the citizens in mortal peril in Florida.

So yeah, not my president.

Florence: An Ongoing, Slow-Rolling Disaster

In case anyone needs a rejoinder to the ‘ha ha, stupid people who won’t get out of harm’s way’ disaster-glee…

Evacuation, like most disaster resilience actions—and really, like most of life—is easier if you have wealth, health and extensive social networks. Being able to pack up your life and leave takes privileges you may not even realize you have. Everyone is doing the best they can based on their personal context.

It takes money to displace yourself. It takes having somewhere better to go and a way to get there. Having a full tank of gas is a luxury when you live paycheck to paycheck. Spending money up front and then waiting for reimbursement requires that you have the money in the first place, while knowing what expenses are covered and how to file the paperwork requires knowledge not everyone has or has access to.

Missing shifts at work is unthinkable when every dollar counts. Some workplaces keep employees as long as legally possible, more worried about lost profits than lost lives.

Delayed evacuation carries a different risk due to the sheer number of people trying to escape on roads that can barely handle rush hour, much less a mass exodus. People can be trapped in gridlock on the roads, running out of gas—or, worse yet, still be out in the open when the storm comes and the floodwaters rise…

Vulnerable populations—immigrants, single parents, elderly, people with disabilities, people in poverty—all face unique risks. Evacuating depletes community support during a diaspora, a frightening prospect when the people around you are essential to your survival. It increases stress on elderly, sometimes with fatal consequences: clearing out retirement and homes can actually kill their residents. Yet staying in place and suffering through mass infrastructure failures can do the same thing.

People with disabilities, injuries or illness may require specialized equipment to survive. Without a custom vehicle or assistance from others, it may be literally impossible to evacuate…

People impacted by disasters need you to have empathy. They need you to advocate for preparing for the next disaster while still recovering from this one. They need your support, whether it’s in the form of cash donations; voting for politicians with the integrity to vote for spending money on mitigation before the next disaster rather than on relief afterward; or even sending them cute animal pictures to cheer them up after another long day of cleaning up the mess. They need your help, not your judgement…

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Open Thread: The Waffle House Weather Index

Srsly. Per the Washington Post:

Yes, that’s right: One of the South’s most popular breakfast chains plays an important role in hurricane forecasting. Waffle Houses are known for staying open through anything, so when the company actually decides to close one of its locations due to bad weather, it means the storm is an unusually bad threat. It’s called the Waffle House Index, and FEMA monitors it. Seriously.

Former FEMA administrator W. Craig Fugate came up with the Waffle House Index as a way to determine how an overall community was faring during a disaster.

“The Waffle House test doesn’t just tell us how quickly a business might rebound — it also tells us how the larger community is faring,” Dan Stoneking wrote on the FEMA Blog in 2011. “The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can reopen, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again — signaling a stronger recovery for that community.”

The Waffle House Index — which is, again, a real thing that our government uses — is color-coded. If Waffle Houses are open and offering a full menu, the index is green. If they’re offering a limited menu, it’s yellow. If locations in the affected area are forced to close, the index is red — and because Waffle Houses are very prepared, this is the rarest scenario…

Ah, capitalism. Putting workers’ lives at risk to be sure customers know your brand is reliable.

Late Night Open Thread: Watchful Waiting

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Florence check in

Be careful, be smart, be safe.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Go, Not with the (Hurricane) Flo

Not to belabor the obvious, but the Washington Post‘s Weather Gang are posting that “Hurricane Florence could be a lot like Harvey”:

In late August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on San Jose Island. Over the following five days, Harvey’s forward movement slowed to a glacial pace, essentially stopping over the greater Houston area, weakening in terms of wind speed but retaining an immense amount of moisture that eventually fell as rain in catastrophic amounts.

A year later, residents in the southeast and Mid-Atlantic may face the exact same scenario with Hurricane Florence, and the reason will be eerily similar.

A ridge of high pressure, extreme especially for this time of year, will develop just off the coast of New England, shunting the path of Florence toward the southeast coast. The strength of this ridge will be unprecedented in 30 years, according to forecast models…

I’m assuming all Balloon Juice readers are smart enough to have their evacuation plans in place and their go-bags packed. If you have neighbors / loved ones who are hesitating about sheltering in place, show them the animations at the link.

Meanwhile, for the rest of us…

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Florence prep

Florence looks likely to be a big storm that will have a very good chance of coming ashore somewhere along the Southeast US coast in the middle of the week.

Couple of notes:

  • Don’t panic
  • Begin reviewing your hurricane plan
  • Clean up your yard today as you need to do that anyways
  • Check in with friends or family
  • Use the wonderful resources at to go over your plan
  • Check the news once today for a weather update
  • Always carry a towel

Be smart, be safe.