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    Turn Off The Weather Channel!

    Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    I have lived on the Gulf Coast since 1975. For thirty years, my family and I have endured countless hurricanes and tropical storms. Furthermore, we have done this without ever fleeing town or even leaving our home. Thankfully, for the most part, our property damage has been minimal and no one in my family has been injured as a result of any storm.

    Of course, Hurricane Ivan was far and away the most devastating storm to hit my home town of Pensacola, Florida. Property damage was massive, and the town will not totally recover from that storm for several years.

    Anyone who lives on the Gulf Coast certainly understands the risks and dangers of any hurricane. Obviously, people who live on the beach and in mobile homes are especially vulnerable as are the elderly and infirm. Those who have lived in this area for any length of time certainly understand what is involved with hurricane preparation. They know how to deal with power outages and fuel shortages. They comprehend the need to have nonperishable food, ice, water, etc. on hand. They also appreciate the value of a good generator.

    In short, people on the Gulf Coast have been successfully dealing with hurricanes and tropical storms for centuries. Beyond that, they have, for the most part, fended off these natural disasters with confidence and calmness. Panic was something foreign to most of them - until they began watching The Weather Channel!

    Since The Weather Channel began covering hurricanes and tropical storms, I have noticed a significant increase in fear and panic among people. It seems that The Weather Channel delights in inciting fear among the public. This latest hurricane, Hurricane Dennis, is a prime example.

    We were told by The Weather Channel meteorologists that we were going to get "slammed," "hammered," "creamed," etc. With a shrill, almost hysterical voice, one lady meteorologist called Hurricane Dennis, "a donut of destruction" and predicted mass calamity. Such "reporting" is not only irresponsible, it is almost criminal. If "inciting panic" was a criminal offense, The Weather Channel should be charged with a count in the first degree!

    Obviously, people need to be informed. We want to know pertinent details regarding a storm's arrival. We really appreciate the tireless efforts of our local emergency workers, Red Cross volunteers, law enforcement personnel, medical staffers, road crew laborers, power company linemen, etc. However, we do not need "experts" from a supposedly reputable national weather source making it their life's work to try and scare people half to death!

    One must wonder what the purpose of all the hype and hysteria put out by The Weather Channel might be! Are they simply trying to increase TV ratings? Are they trying to herd people like cattle? Do they really believe that Gulf Coast residents are not smart enough to know what to do and how to act in the face of an oncoming storm? Or, perhaps they are attempting to create fear and panic to the point that we lose our will and common sense and become mindless servants to "the experts."

    One thing is clear: in order to be able to think clearly, act with common sense discretion, and avoid useless (even harmful) attacks of fear and panic, the next time a storm approaches, TURN OFF THE WEATHER CHANNEL!

    © Chuck Baldwin

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