IN THE BATHTUB – You may be wondering why I am here in my dry tub, with a mattress over me. That’s because some expert said that, when you are in the direct path of a hurricane, and you won’t evacuate because you are too stupid or are suicidal, the safest place to be is in your bathtub with a mattress over you. I am not suicidal. But this storm trooping is getting old. Almost three years to the day, Hurricane Harvey ripped through Houston. My house had survived Allison, Rita and Ike without so much as a damaged shingle, and Harvey had come by with no problem. Then the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to open up the flood gates on the dams to prevent flooding, and we were flooded out. The most ridiculous oxymorons are jumbo shrimp, humble Texan and military intelligence.
Hurricane Laura is our latest catastrophe. People on TV say, “This is the third time we’ve been flooded out,” or, “I haven’t repaired my store since Harvey.” Those in the safety of their home in St. Louis must ask themselves, “Why do they stay there? Move to someplace safe.” So, while hiding here in my bathtub, I started looking for where I should move to be safe. Biloxi has beautiful beaches. So does Corpus Christi. Maybe Lake Charles with all its casinos. New Orleans is a great town – at low tide. No, forget them. The entire Gulf Coast annually gets clobbered by hurricanes which touch off tornadoes to Memphis. (Although Oklahoma to Nebraska is called “tornado alley.”) The East Coast is also a target for hurricanes. Actually, those storms go as far north as Boston. On Aug. 25, 1954, Hurricane Carol hit Bean Town and toppled the steeple on the Old North Church. That was the steeple from which Paul Revere got his signal: “Two if by land, one if by sea.” It’s a shame they didn’t have a third lamp for: “Three if by Carol.” There is no safe place on the East Coast from Key West to Canada. However, New York City hasn’t had a natural disaster and should be safe, but only during daylight among large crowds.
Millions have flocked to California. Perhaps I should join them for safety. Wait! That state is besieged by wildfires. “This is the third time we’ve been burned out.” Then there are the earthquakes. It’s only a matter of time until California slides into the Pacific. To the north Portland and Seattle are green and cool – and looted. Do I really want big guys with no name tags or group identification hitting me over the head with clubs? Maybe some place far inland, like the Dakotas? No thanks. I’ve seen “Fargo.” Compared to that, what’s a little head banging? Chicago, Louisville and Minneapolis are off limits unless you arrive in an Abrams tank. After Kenosha, Wis. (population 99,944, about the same as Odessa’s) became a battleground, I determined to choose a town that has a riot-free zone or has defunded its police department. Mass shootings occur all too often. Don’t move to any town that has schools, movie theaters or a Walmart.
Finding a safe place to live in America these days is difficult. Move overseas? New Zealand and Iceland are pretty clear of Covid-19. Which brings us to the pandemic. Where could I move to that is virus-safe? President Trump has said 31 times and counting that the pandemic is practically cured, but his promised deadline for a virus-free America didn’t hold up. Maybe I should move to Loving County. It is one of three counties in Texas which has reported zero cases of Covid-19. Loving is in West Texas, with a population of 134 as of a 2017 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau, and is the second-least populous county in the United States after Kalawao County, Hawaii (which has a population of 88). Of course, a single case of the virus in Loving would, percentage-wise, probably put it among the top10 virus hot spots in the nation. I’d like to stay in Texas. El Paso is out (Walmart). Austin has the UT Tower which Charles Whitman found to be an excellent bunker. Dallas is still trying to live down Lee Harvey Oswald. A friend from Wichita Falls said, “There’s no reason to live there except for the weather and the scenery.”
I should consider my odds with murders, muggings and door-to-door salesmen who want to clean my gutters. “Sunnyvale, Calif., is the safest city in America,” according to something called Travel Safe, which keeps track of crime rates. But I have already scratched off anywhere in California, not wanting to be there when that state slides towards Hawaii. Houston rated medium in overall safety, but H-Town also rates medium in “natural disaster risk.” I don’t trust their ratings. “Scam risk: high. Scams happen regularly in Houston. They vary from someone trying to divert you so that their partner can steal your wallet, bag or cell phone to various street tricks by professional scammers who want to extort money from you.” Shows what they know. Any day I expect my share of that $30 million the Nigerian prince promised me.
From Smarter Travel: “In general, crime in Houston happens 81 percent more often than in the rest of Texas, and 95 percent more often than in the rest of the United States, in part because of its huge population. As for violent crime, Houston clocks in at 150 percent higher than the Texas average, and 170 percent higher than the rest of the nation. Property crime in Houston also occurs much more frequently than in the rest of its state or country, though it has been decreasing the past few years.”
Maybe I really should move to St Louis and wonder why people live in such dangerous places. Wait again. The FBI reports St Louis is the most dangerous city in America. I’ll just stay in my bathtub.
Ashby is safe at email@example.com