No Time to Wallow in the Mire

As a reporter who began in Arkansas, I was a quick study in natural disasters. Tornadoes, river floods, even Arkansans.

And I thought I knew fire. Once, my photographer buddy Spencer and I worked a massive house fire. As reporters gathered in front of the house, the wind suddenly shifted. Blue sky became black. And when you turned your back, closed your eyes and coughed your lungs out, there was a weird disorientation. The commander in charge yelled at us to freeze until the wind shifted, lest any of us walk blindly into the inferno.

But nothing compared to the fires this week, particularly the Bel Air blaze, about six miles south of me. The smell was as if the city planned a romantic evening in front of the fireplace and forgot to open the chute. I awoke in the middle of the night from the acrid stench, certain a room was ablaze. My living room was speckled with Esme’s small footprints as she walked inside from the ash-covered back patio.

California isn’t going to break off into the sea. It’s going to burn to the ground.

Still, it got me thinking: Is there any place safe from disaster?

The answer, of course, is no. A recent study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that the safest place to live to avoid a natural disaster is actually Montana’s Sweet Grass County, located just 160 miles southeast of the capital Helena (apparently, volcanoes are no longer an issue).

Conversely, the most dangerous county to live in is Ocean County, N.J. Nestled  along the Jersey Shore, Ocean County offers little in terms of a buffer for severe weather and hurricanes, most recently sustaining massive damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a storm that displaced as many as 26,000 people in Ocean County alone.

But here is their list, based on frequency (not fatalities). The study, for some reason, does not consider dimwits a natural disaster. I guess that’s more a political study. Mother Nature’s favorite wrath by locale:

  • Alabama — Tornadoes
  • Alaska — Wildfires
  • Arizona — Wildfires
  • Arkansas — Tornadoes
  • California — Earthquakes
  • Colorado — Wildfires
  • Connecticut — Snowstorms
  • Delaware — Snowstorms/Hurricanes
  • Florida — Hurricanes
  • Georgia — Tornadoes
  • Hawaii — Hurricanes
  • Idaho — Wildfires / Flooding
  • Illinois — Tornadoes
  • Indiana — Tornadoes
  • Iowa — Tornadoes
  • Kansas — Tornadoes
  • Kentucky — Tornadoes
  • Louisiana — Hurricanes
  • Maine — Summer Storms
  • Maryland — Hurricanes
  • Massachusetts — Blizzards
  • Michigan — Tornadoes
  • Minnesota — Tornadoes
  • Mississippi — Hurricanes
  • Missouri — Tornadoes
  • Montana — Floods
  • Nebraska — Tornadoes
  • Nevada — Earthquakes
  • New Hampshire — Floods
  • New Jersey — Blizzards
  • New Mexico — Wildfires
  • New York — Blizzards
  • North Carolina — Hurricanes
  • North Dakota — Blizzards
  • Ohio — Tornadoes
  • Oklahoma — Tornadoes
  • Oregon — Floods
  • Pennsylvania — Blizzards
  • Rhode Island — Hurricanes
  • South Carolina — Tornadoes
  • South Dakota — Tornadoes
  • Tennessee — Tornadoes
  • Texas — Tornadoes
  • Utah — Earthquakes
  • Vermont — Floods
  • Virginia — Floods
  • Washington State — Wildfires
  • Washington, D.C. — Blizzards
  • West Virginia — Floods
  • Wisconsin — Tornadoes
  • Wyoming — Landslides



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