Opinion: Stop Giving Wimpy Names to Killer Storms!
What’s in a name? Plenty. Nobody knows what any given storm will turn into. Therefore, says Dolores Prida in her column in El Diario La Prensa, they should not give teenage nicknames to something that may destroy a city and kill you.
There are so many hurts, floating in a sea of debris and conflicted feelings in the dark calm that follows the storm.
The city flooded in the dark. Houses destroyed by fire and water. Beautiful trees felled. Sandless beaches. Lost lives. More than de $50 billion in material losses, and that vague guilty feeling because, while others suffer, nothing happened to me. Not even a leak or a broken window nor a power outage. My basement is drier than the Sahara.
Except for my niece’s car which floated away on the water flowing through the streets of Lower Manhattan, nothing happened to my family either.
But among such devastation, the mind grabs on to something small, apparently inocous, maybe to escape the surrounding reality.
Without a doubt, this storm will occupy a prominent place in the annals of natural disasters. Those who lost their houses, their wedding pictures, their high school diploma and each and every one of those things that document a life, will tell their grandchildren, years from now, all they went through the day “Sandy” hit New York.
Sandy? What a wimpy name for such a historical hurricane!
Sandy is not even a name in itself. It’s the nickname for Sandra or Alexandra. That monster that came upon us should have had a grander name, with more gravitas, more heft, a name that would give us a chill just to pronounce it.
If it had been named Sabina or Silvana, just mentioning it would have reminded us of the wind whistling and the leaves rustling and the sea devouring the coastline. But no. This catastrophe will forever be filed not under an incisive, crushing, definite name, such as, for example, Katrina (that’s a proper name for a hurricane!) but under a wimpy teenage nickname.
Talk about adding insult to injury.
Storms began to be named in 1950, always with female names until 1978 when male names were added for the sake of the destructive equality of the genres.
Before that, people referred to storms by the year or place it occurred, such as Galveston’s storm in 1900, or Saint Ciriaco a year before in Puerto Rico. On the island they still refer to any approaching hurricane as “a Saint Ciriaco is coming.”
But what does Sandy suggests? Nothing. It just brings to mind that blonde teenager in Grease and John Travolta singing to Olivia Newton-John.
And since we’re talking about tangential reactions to this storm, I have one more thing to say. If New York has to put up with this type of devastating nuisances every year, we might as well move to Florida. At least they have better beaches there.
Meanwhile, remember that Tuesday is Election Day. Vote. Row to the polls if you must. And before you check the box next to the presidential candidate of your choice, remember that Mitt Romney, who made fun of Barack Obama wanting to tackle the problem of rising oceans and climate change at the Republican National Convention, has said that he would consider dismantling FEMA and letting each state or private companies handle future natural disasters.
Think of what it would mean to have an Administration in charge that does not believe icebergs are melting.
That’s worse than giving wimpy names to killer storms.