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New infographics show how Americans cope with hurricanes

Some stress out. Some read. Some drink.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty
  • 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.

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

Gear
  • Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
  • As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
  • The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
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Two MIT students just solved Richard Feynman’s famed physics puzzle

Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.

Surprising Science

Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.

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Economists show how welfare programs can turn a "profit"

What happens if we consider welfare programs as investments?

A homeless man faces Wall Street

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A recently published study suggests that some welfare programs more than pay for themselves.
  • It is one of the first major reviews of welfare programs to measure so many by a single metric.
  • The findings will likely inform future welfare reform and encourage debate on how to grade success.
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Unhappy at work? How to find meaning and maintain your mental health

Finding a balance between job satisfaction, money, and lifestyle is not easy.

Unhappy at work? How to find meaning and maintain your mental health
Videos
  • When most of your life is spent doing one thing, it matters if that thing is unfulfilling or if it makes you unhappy. According to research, most people are not thrilled with their jobs. However, there are ways to find purpose in your work and to reduce the negative impact that the daily grind has on your mental health.
  • "The evidence is that about 70 percent of people are not engaged in what they do all day long, and about 18 percent of people are repulsed," London Business School professor Dan Cable says, calling the current state of work unhappiness an epidemic. In this video, he and other big thinkers consider what it means to find meaning in your work, discuss the parts of the brain that fuel creativity, and share strategies for reassessing your relationship to your job.
  • Author James Citrin offers a career triangle model that sees work as a balance of three forces: job satisfaction, money, and lifestyle. While it is possible to have all three, Citrin says that they are not always possible at the same time, especially not early on in your career.
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