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Natural disasters refuse to let up

Brace yourself, folks: it’s hurricane season.

For the next few months we can all look forward to CNN’s up-to-the-minute updates about tropical storms with names like “Carlita” and “Alfonse.”

We have to accept the fact that such a storm, angry over its horrible name, may decide to wipe out the entire state of Florida.

If the unthinkable should happen, we’ll just have to pick ourselves up and live with the consequences. I’m not saying it’ll be easy; we’ll have to take the bad (Disney World’s disappearance) with the good (the Everglades will no longer be endangered).

But it’s still probably a good idea to be prepared, so I looked up survival tips on FEMA’s Web site. Unfortunately it was full of big words and didn’t have many pictures, so all my research is actually from “FEMA for Kids.”

Here’s what I found out:

1. Hurricanes can be very, very scary.

2. If someone named “Ernesto” contacts you on MySpace and claims to be a hurricane, he/she is probably lying.

3. Never accept candy from a strange tropical storm.

I also came across this gem: “Disasters don’t last very long. Soon, things will be back to normal.” There’s a joke here somewhere, I just can’t think of it.

In addition to all that valuable information, “FEMA for Kids” also has a bunch of hurricane cartoons with punch lines like (I am NOT making this up), “Aw, mom, warm seawater again?” and my personal favorite, “There’s wind shear in my closet!”

Clearly, FEMA officials have their priorities straight. That’s because everyone who works for them is a “specialist.” No one specializes in hurricanes, of course, but they’re all specialists nonetheless.

In fact, after writing this column, I fully expect FEMA to hire me as a peanut butter specialist (I am overqualified).

But for those of you living in the Midwest who are thinking, “Hah! Stupid people on the coasts getting their homes destroyed should just move here,” let me remind you about tornadoes.

If hurricanes are nature’s way of saying, “I hate you,” tornadoes are like waking up in bed next to Richard Simmons.

Think about it: what other natural disaster comes out of nowhere and indiscriminately destroys any houses in its path – besides fires, floods, tsunamis, mudslides and earthquakes, I mean – with no regard for human life?

Tornadoes are like the friend that shows up unannounced and trashes your place, then leaves the next morning with your car keys. That’s because tornadoes love cars. The only thing they like more than cars is trailer parks.

I mean, look at the classification system for tornadoes, which is known among scientists as the “Fujita scale” (fajita was already taken). A class “F6” tornado is classified as “inconceivable” because it can propel entire trailer parks at up to 379 miles per hour.

Bowling Green gets two or three F6 tornadoes per day, but everyone’s pretty used to it by now. As long as you weigh over two tons you should be fine.

And even though tornadoes may not seem special to us, they fascinate other people. Remember when you were like ten years old and you saw “Twister” for the first time, and it sucked?

It still does, I watched it the other day. Nothing in that movie was true. I can’t imagine where the screenwriters must have gone get their information.

On second thought, they probably used to work for FEMA.

Jim ([email protected]) promises never to watch “Twister” ever again.

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