Stay or go?

Published 11:23 pm Tuesday, October 30, 2012

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie doesn’t mince words. In a press conference Monday afternoon, as Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the New Jersey coast, Christie forcefully reiterated that residents of coastal towns should evacuate immediately. As the daylight disappeared, so did Christie’s politeness. Eventually, he called the holdouts choosing to ride out the storm “stupid” and “selfish.”
Later, when Sandy’s full impact was being realized, he said to those calling for rescue from the flooded coastal towns, “Hunker down. … I cannot in good conscience send rescuers in as the storm is about to hit,” and promised rescue would come at dawn.
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the same to residents of the low-lying areas in the five boroughs known as Zone A: get out, because if you don’t and someone has to come rescue you, you have put not just your own life, but the lives of first responders, in danger.
In the early hours of Monday morning, the combination of hurricane-force winds and above-ground electrical wires set fire to an oceanfront neighborhood in Queens. The streets were under many feet of water; no emergency vehicles could negotiate the floodwaters. So a special team of first responders waded in through the ocean currents, scaling buildings in high winds to pull out the holdouts of Hurricane Sandy. One hundred and eleven homes burned. It’s estimated that 30 to 40 people were saved.
The argument is always made that no government entity should be able to make you leave your home if you choose to stay. It’s a valid argument.
But the argument could also be made that needlessly endangering the lives of those who already put their lives on the line daily is the height of selfishness.
Next time you need to make a choice to stay or to go — go. If you don’t care about your own safety, you can at least care about theirs.