Final Word

By Jeff Girod

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Posted January 27, 2011 in News

The Big One is coming! No, not that Big One. So crawl out from under your desk, goober, and grab a waterproof poncho.

Not content to scare the bejeesus out of us for the last five decades about earthquakes, scientists are now warning Southern Californians that the next cataclysmic event could, in fact, be a devastating “Superstorm” that brings more than 40 days of continuous rain.

Forty days of rain? You know, in Seattle they call that “springtime.”

Scientists would like to point out that “this ain’t no Seattle”—even if you do have a longhaired jobless brother who smokes a lot of pot and listens to Pearl Jam—and that a California Superstorm could trigger 10 feet of flooding, hurricane-like winds, widespread landslides and Sean Penn egomaniacally videotaping himself in a Big 5 rowboat.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a team of more than 100 scientists, engineers and emergency planners used flood mapping, climate change projections and geologic flood history to simulate a hypothetical storm so intense that it occurs once every 100 to 200 years. Throw in some tequila, glow sticks and Mr. Bubble bath powder, and that sounds like a party!

Sliced limes and drunken body shots aside, scientists warn that such a storm would force 1.5 million Californians to evacuate, and the economic loss would be four times that of a very large earthquake.

Am I worried about a Superstorm? Not really—and not just because I plan to loot my neighbor’s house of all his emergency supplies.

Because here’s the thing about “big ones” such as Superstorms or earthquakes or asteroids the size of Texas falling from outer space: They make for great newspaper headlines, an NBC mini series and Bruce Willis movies, yet they’re about as easy to predict as a Brett Favre retirement. Because if you could predict a disaster beforehand, I’d have a Ninja sport bike pointed nose-first out of my garage loaded with Hormel chili, bottled water and a loaded .45.

Superstorms lead the evening news because they’re more interesting than Lindsay Lohan in rehab and whoever the hell Gloria Allred is suing this week. Hypothetical scenarios are endless, but the reality is nobody knows what would happen if California was bombarded by a Superstorm or an 8.0 earthquake or a tsunami . . . or a Superstormquakenami (which is either the worst thing that could happen to California or the most delicious brownie dessert ever concocted by Dairy Queen).

Regardless of how much we talk about it or worry about it or practice crouching in our doorways, we’re all pretty much playing the Big Lotto in the Sky. (And just like every other Lotto drawing, the winners will probably be here illegally or have several felony arrest warrants.)

For those of us in the absolute wrong place at the wrong time when the Big One hits, we could be hoarding all the bottled water in Arrowhead and it won’t matter one de-ionized drip. Our last words on Earth will still be “Oh…” (Then fill in the blank, depending on your religious affiliation or predilection for the “f” word.)

You can spend your whole life worrying about natural tragedies and flesh-eating bacteria and the swine flu. Or you can say screw it, buy the occasional bacon-wrapped hot dog off some random street corner and pray you get home before crapping your chonies. Because life is too damn short to worry all the time. And everybody alive is going to die some day anyway. And if your last few minutes on earth are spent surfing your screen door on a 50-foot Superstorm wave like Bodhi in Point Break, then, hey, on some level it beats a slow death of clogged arteries from eating too much cheddarella.

That’s not to say I don’t have flood insurance. Good god, I have tons of it. And you should, too. Because what usually happens in these disasters is you live, but your living room carpet looks like a mush monster took a seahorse-sized dump on it. And watching Superstorm TV coverage on a carpet full of uninsured seahorse mush?

That, friends, is a fate worse than death.

Contact Jeff Girod at finalword@ieweekly.com.



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