The latest forecast estimates that the superlative category five hurricane Irma may land directly on the most populated area of South Florida near the city of Miami. The last time a massive storm hit the region was in 1992 with hurricane Andrew. But back then, there were no Instagram or Facebook to display stupid behaviors. Here is what you shouldn't do during a hurricane as a photographer.
Narcissism has found an extraordinary ally with the social networks. Millions of Instagram models around the world can now display their ego with the help of their magic wand, the selfie stick. Physicist Albert Einstein once said “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.” While the vast majority of people will follow the authority’s instructions responsibly and act with common sense, there’s always a few winners to brave the storm in order to get the “perfect shot.”
The historical nature of this hurricane and the irresistible attraction for likes and views will generate a critical mass of idiocy bursting in a supernova of hazardous behaviors. Frankly, I could not care less if some people decide to run for the Darwin Award in the photography category, but getting exposed during a major hurricane can cause serious issues for first emergency responders. It is not just the fact that these guys will risk their lives for the idiots, but also the fact that they could be more valuable elsewhere dealing with actual situations that require their assistance for real reasons.
Getting out of shelter during the storm is extremely dangerous. Flash floods can submerge a large area in less than a few seconds. Besides the water problem, the wind creates another category of hazard. On the island of St Martin, a weather station’s last reading indicated winds as high as 220 mph during the storm. At this speed, any object can fly across the park or a window with tremendous force and cause serious injury. Your neighbors’ Trump or Hillary sign in front of the house could become actual physical weapons. Don’t get killed by an angry Elephant or Donkey. That would be tragic for me, especially after voting for Deez Nuts, but that’s another problem.
The post-storm phase is also very critical for rescue personnel. Firefighters, National Guard soldiers, and utility repair teams need to move fast and clear the roads. Any unnecessary traffic will create further delays for the community to restore essential services and save lives.
Eventually, if you really have the soul of Robert Capa, be aware that hurricanes are not very photogenic events because of heavy rain, clouds and low visibility associated with the passage of the storm. Seriously, stay safe and good luck to all of those living in the affected area.