New infographics show how Americans cope with hurricanes

Some stress out. Some read. Some drink.

  • New infographics reveal how we deal with approaching hurricanes.
  • We're ultimately defenseless, but here's how we get though it all.
  • Among the storm prep essentials? Alcohol.

As weather becomes more extreme, we can expect the intensity of hurricanes to be on the rise. As it is, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the average yearly costs are already about $28 billion. Most of that tab has been run up in just three states: Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. Of course, these aren't the only states seeing catastrophic weather, and the dollar amount doesn't begin the describe the often devastating impact of big storms on victims' lives.

Farah & Farah, a law firm specializing in personal injuries, decided to find out what people who are experienced in surviving hurricanes do to get ready. Using Amazon's Mechanical Turk, they questioned 1,200 storm veterans about what the approach of a big storm means to them and how they prepare for, and handle, trouble weather. A page of revealing infographics, dubbed Handling Hurricanes, is the result.

No biggie. Or yes biggie.

When asked just how stressful they find an approaching storm, it turns out that people from Georgia, which has had relatively few hurricane disasters, are the most bothered of anybody. Louisiana and Texas come in next, which makes sense given their track record. Surprisingly, Floridians, the people who are far and away most clobbered by big storms, are surprisingly blithe about them, at least compared to Georgians. (Sunshine Staters are a breed apart, and we'll have a closer look at them later.)

Ants and grasshoppers

No one in a region that regularly experiences hurricanes can say they're totally surprised when the dark clouds come rolling in. But, like the children's story of the ant and the grasshopper, some people plan ahead, remaining in a state of preparedness, and some people wait until a storm is bearing down. Storm prep costs can add up, especially right before clouds roll in, when the scarcity of supplies and food causes prices to spike — if goods are still available at all. A rational case could be made for preparing before the weather turns.

That having been said, the survey found that nearly 70 percent of people wait until close to the last minute to get ready. Standing out as most forward-thinking are Louisianans, who have seen with Katrina just how bad a storm and its aftermath can be, and how coming back afterward can take a very long time, when it's possible at all.

Different strokes

Of course, what preparing for a hurricane means depends on who you ask, and the survey revealed how the answer may depend on your age.

Baby Boomers, who generally do a more through prep, consider their number one task to fill a bathtub with potable water. For Gen Xers and Millennials, the prime directive is to take pictures of valuables for post-maelstrom insurance claims. Millennials also consider it important to fashion a headlamp of some sort — you never know when selfies will be taken.

Since all normal activity is on hold...

If you haven't been evacuated from your home as the darkness falls, what's next? You're as ready as you can be, so...

Most people, by far, read during a big storm, at least as long as they have light to read by, presumably. For women, the second-most common bad-weather activity is having deep conversations. Men aren't far behind — it's their third place choice. In second for men is listening to music, and third place for women? Zzzzzzz.

Storm sex? Sure, for 35.6 percent of men, but just 23.4 percent of women. There could be a few different reasons for the disparity. We'll leave that little guessing game to you.

Ten percent of women make shadow puppets. Aw. For those wishing it would just stop — likely people with young children — there are pillow forts to be built. Aw, again.

Then there's that 25.4 percent of women and 27.2 percent of men…

Stormy (hic) weather

So about that 25.4 percent of women and 27.2 percent of men, hurricane readiness must include acquiring hooch. Their favorite thing to drink as the world maybe ends is — no surprise — beer.

Drinkin' in the rain...

About half of those surveyed who drink go out during the madness for fun. People full of liquid courage also brave the elements for less ridiculous reasons, such as evacuating — hopefully someone else is driving — and performing rescues and repairs.

Half of the people surveyed don't go out. Darwinism at work?

About those Floridians

It's by no means the case that people from Florida get so many storms that they don't care. It's just that it's part of life there, and Farah & Farah thus award them their own breakdown.

In three of the five examined regional areas, about 70 percent of respondents buy alcohol when preparing for a storm. Only in the cities of Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater do less than half of the people surveyed liquor-up, even though they're the most stressed by approaching storms. Still, a solid majority of these people go out during storms — in fact, in Jacksonville, only 9.1% don't. Yipes.

Don’t mess with Mother Nature

Sorry. Too late. We have. It certainly feels like weather is getting more extreme, and recent storms seem to have served as an inflection point for many people regarding their attitudes about climate change. Turns out the dire warnings have been optimistic — it wasn't supposed to get so crazy so soon, right? Vox recently published a great article describing what our options going forward are. It turns out it may not be too late just yet. It's well worth a read.

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less

CIA considered using ‘truth serum’ on terror suspects after 9/11

A new report outlines how the CIA considered using a drug called Versed on detainees in the years following 9/11.

Pixabay
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The 90-page report was released to the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday.
  • It describes how the CIA researched past attempts by governments to find an effective 'truth serum', including the agency's infamous MK-Ultra program.
  • Ultimately, the agency decided not to ask the Justice Department to approve drug-assisted interrogations.
Keep reading Show less

Juul to stop selling most e-cigarettes in stores, leave social media

Facing mounting pressure from the public and government agencies, the e-cigarette maker announced major changes to its business model on Tuesday.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Juul makes flavored e-cigarettes and currently dominates the vaping industry, with 70% of the market share.
  • The FDA is planning to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in gas stations and convenient stores this week.
  • Some have called teenage vaping an epidemic. Data from 2018 show that about 20% of high school students had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.
Keep reading Show less

CNN files lawsuit against Trump administration

The lawsuit claims the administration violated the First Amendment when it revoked the press credentials of reporter Jim Acosta.

(Photo by Al Drago - Pool/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials were revoked following a heated exchange with President Donald Trump on November 8.
  • The network filed a lawsuit against the administration on Tuesday, claiming the administration has violated multiple amendments.
  • The White House may only revoke the press credentials of journalists for "compelling reasons," not for reasons involving content.
Keep reading Show less