Tsunami Watching

There was a devastating earthquake in Japan yesterday, followed by a tsunami, the horror of which I could barely watch on tv. This post is in no way intended to make light of those events.

The (much diluted in intensity) tsunami was expected to arrive in California this morning at about 8:30, the largest waves expected at Pismo Beach, on the Central Coast, well over 100 miles from where I live. But, I love on the coast, if not on the water, and thought I would keep an eye on the news.

The bulk of my local news options are from LA and were surprisingly less fear mongering than the national news I saw. Some beaches were closed in Orange and LA counties, but the beaches in Ventura county remained open. There was a news crew at the local beach and they were airing that coverage at the estimated time of the tsunami’s arrival.

And what did we see?

Surfers in the water. Spectators lined the pier. Amateur photographers on the roof of the beachfront parking garage. More people in the water. A man playing catch with his dog at the water’s edge.

Idiots all of them.

Here is the thing, the few that were interviewed seemed to be rationalizing the risk, implying that only their life was on the line. And yes, last year when a tsunami hit this area, there were waves a few extra inches high and damage to a buoy. BUT. These people are not risking just their own lives, they are risking the life of any rescue worker who might need to save them if they are pulled to sea by the tsunami’s extra strong current. They may potentially cost taxpayers a bundle of unneeded expenses but towards an completely avoidable rescue.

Now, people in southern california are known for their general dumb-assery.  At my old job I heard stories of people brought into the ER for smoke inhalation because they got too close when spectating at a wildfire. Yes, that is correct. Some people in Southern California like to go watch natural disasters. For fun. Risking their own lives, rescue workers’ lives. And now the fire department has a helicopter out there to watch over the surfers who refuse to get out of the water. I’m not sure why the beaches did not close. Even if the waves don’t come ashore, there is real danger from the currents.

Natural disasters are not a spectator sport. Close the beaches.

I thought about pulling this post after the Klamath man was swept out to sea taking pictures of the tsunami, but I decided to leave it and add a Red Cross Donation link.


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4 Responses to “Tsunami Watching”

  1. Natalie says:

    There must be a country-wide stupidity when it comes to possible natural disasters. I grew up in Hurricane land, and EVERY SINGLE TIME there was a threat of a hurricane, people threw hurricane parties, refused to leave their beachfront properties, surfers kept surfing, etc. etc.

    People said they don’t understand how Katrina could have happened, but growing up somewhere they ALWAYS have “HUGE HURRICANE WATCH” storms, some people grow immune to it and think “yeah, whatever” b/c ppl think they are invincible, I guess.

    But you’re right, these idiots put other people’s lives in danger and the beaches should be closed if there is a threat of something major. Or even if they “don’t know” but know it could happen. Better be safe than sorry, considering what is going on across the sea.


  2. TMae says:

    You’re totally right. And I’m absolutely guilty of being that idiot on occasion. I love the ocean, and I love BIG OCEAN. I used to go sit on the cliffs at the beach every time there was a BIG STORM so I could watch the BIG OCEAN. So, maybe I’m not totally one of those idiots, as I was sitting on a cliff 30 feet above the beach, but I get the interest in seeing it. However, as I’ve gotten older, and thought more about how my actions don’t just impact me….I’ve gotten less interested in being part of it. My tolerance for disaster has also gotten much lower. I haven’t been able to watch any of the coverage because I’m getting too empathetic. There but for the grace of god and whatnot…

    I also think it’s kind of…lacking respect to be joyriding a tsunami wave when there are hundreds of people dying because of it.


  3. Suzanne says:

    Word. I understand the draw, really I do. We had flooding last spring and the first thing I did was run down to the waterfall at the end of our walking path to take pictures of the river at crazy high levels. But there’s a huge difference between watching water from a pedestrian bridge more than 20 feet above the river and WALKING INTO THE SURF. Especially since that receding water you mentioned is the first sign the wave is about to come.

    Also, ditto what TMae said about the lack of respect.


    Amy Reply:

    My issue was totally with the people IN the water. The people on the pier are dumb too because that thing has broken more than once.


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