BOSTON (CBS) – We haven’t seen anything like it in years, a massive hurricane headed straight for the heavily-populated east coast of Florida. And public officials aren’t mincing their words.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott called for mass mandatory evacuations, underlining the danger of 150-mile per hour winds and widespread power outages with this blunt warning: “This storm will kill you.”
But if you live in the path of this monster, who are you going to believe? Every meteorologist and public safety expert? Or Vanilla Ice, who tweeted from his Florida home Thursday – quote – “this hurricane is serious and coming right at me. I’m going to ride out the storm. I’ll keep you updated.”
Thanks Vanilla – for nothing.
Studies show that five-percent of a threatened population routinely ignores the evacuation warnings. In 2012, frustrated New Jersey officials asked residents who refused to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Sandy to jot down their Social Security numbers on their arms so their bodies could be identified later.
Hopefully that won’t be necessary in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. But the refusal to evacuate tells a broader story about public attitudes toward government in particular and authority in general.
If you’re the type of skeptic who believes government never tells the truth, it’s easy to persuade yourself that it’s o.k. to ignore their warnings. And in a culture that seems to value personal convenience and ego gratification over common sense and the common good, no wonder so many will casually risk their lives and those of rescue personnel just to scratch their itch.
A better idea?
As Vanilla Ice once put it: “Stop, collaborate and listen.”