Brian Becker: …We’re joined from Tallahassee, Florida by Shelby Shoup. She is a student activist at Florida State University. She was in the center of the hurricane yesterday, and later in this segment we’ll be joined from New York City by Gail Walker, she’s the executive director of Pastors for Peace. Shelby Shoup, welcome back.
Shelby Shoup: Hi, thank you so much for having me back.
BB: Yeah, it’s our pleasure. Shelby, we talked to you yesterday. We recorded the interview a little bit before noon or around noon, and that was right before you anticipated the hurricane would be, like, really hitting with full force where you are. Again, what’s happened, let’s talk about, start with yourself, do you have electricity?
SS: No, we don’t have any power, and from the looks of it we’re probably not going to have power for a while. Um, just in the apartment complex I’m in alone, it meets on the intersection of these two streets, the main street is blocked by three trees, some of them, just like, it’s like half of them peeled off the top, and I don’t know if you know, but Tallahassee is really (inaudible) these large canopy trees, it’s really a miracle that none of the houses here got hurt, me and my friend actually pulled like, half of a tree, like a huge branch off of this person’s car yesterday outside the complex.
BB: That’s amazing
SS: yeah, and the other street’s totally, totally bisected by a tree that’s fallen over, like at least on the other one we can kinda navigate around it, although definitely not safe to drive for a while, but the other one we can’t get through without a chainsaw, which we don’t have.
BB: I heard another radio network this morning, they were talking to somebody, I don’t know if it was exactly where you were, they said it didn’t sound like a storm, it sounded like a bomb when it hit, in other words where they were at least, I don’t know if they were in Panama City, but anyway, what did it feel like when it came ashore?
SS: You know, so honestly, we got kinda lucky right, it veered just, I’d say about 80 miles west of Tallahassee, cause we certainly didn’t have the storm infrastructure to, you know, withstand 150 MpH, you know, per hour wind. But when I say lucky that’s obviously, you know, not entirely true, because you know Panama City and Mexico City beach just got, just devastated, just absolutely ravaged, and I’m sure they have even less secure storm infrastructure than us.
BB: Yeah, I think the person I was listening to was from Panama City, and Mexico, is it Mexico City beach, is that the name of the town?
SS: I think it’s Mexico Beach, excuse me.
BB: Mexico Beach, yeah.
SS: Panama City and Mexico Beach. But yeah, the rumours that I’ve heard from Panama City that there’s a high school there, I think it’s Rutherford High School, was acting as a shelter, the roof just got totally blown off, I know that one hospital got hit by a tornado
BB: yeah, there was supposed to be at least three tornados that were spun off from this hurricane, at least three that touched down anyway
John Kiriakou: Yeah, and I’m looking at some of the images from Panama City, Panama City by the way is Panama City, Florida, on the Florida Panhandle. Shelby Shoup, our guest, is in Tallahassee, 80 miles east of Panama City, is where you are?
SS: yes, we are east
JK: The Images show complete and utter devastation. I mean, it really does look like these buildings, like these buildings were in Syria, like the parts of Syria that were heavily bombed, it’s unbelievably devastating. And of course those people, I would guess Shelby, also don’t have power, and probably won’t have power for a long time
SS: yeah, and that’s even if they still have homes that are, you know, livable
BB: well, you know, the video this morning on CNN showed that those ocean front homes, or gulf front homes, and then homes going back 3 or 4 lots were just gone, the wind just took them, they don’t exist anymore
JK: And here we have the Trump administration Shelby, and a lot of people inside the Trump administration, but it’s not just the Republicans, and it’s not just Trump, but Trump in particular is saying “Hey! The environment is fabulous! The climate is fabulous! No problem,” and meanwhile, piece by piece, escalating the, basically the ending of any sort of even minor regulations that inhibited pollution or put some kind of controls on corporate entities. At the same time you have the UN climate change report, written with extreme and utter urgency by 6000 scientists who participated, saying, “The world is coming to a tipping point, that there has to be urgent action to reduce carbon emissions,” because these extreme weather events, like the hurricane you’re experiencing, it’s gonna intensify, it’s not just a one-off. Anyway, what’s your take on some of that?
SS: You know, really the way I look at it is how we’re faced with a really, really dire choice. We have two paths ahead of us; We’re either heading for, you know, global revolution, where, you know, we radically transform society, we dismantle and abolish capitalism, and move to socialism, the next stage of human society, or we head for global mass extinction, and of course that mass extinction, when I say mass, that obviously includes, you know, the people who, the billionaires and trillionaires, who can afford to escape, who can afford to, not only you know, evacuate our towns now, like for example I know that there was like, a hurricane warning in Hawaii a few, like a month or two ago, and like, flights to LAX were like $10,000 right? So they can afford to evacuate now, but can also possibly, you know, we have people like Elon Musk talking about planetary colonization and stuff like that. They will be able to survive the effects of climate apocalypse and eco-fascism, and we the masses will not unless we radically change things now, unless we get organized now.
JK: Let me ask you too, much was made on the news, the mainstream media, that uhh, this storm took a lot of people by surprise, at least there was less time with this storm than with previous major hurricanes to get people evacuated, and so as a result a lot of people were not evacuated. Tell us what the government has done for you and other Floridians in the run up to this storm, and what the government is preparing to do or offering to do now that the storms already hit?
SS: So, you know, I would agree with that, I didn’t hear about the storm, a lot of my friends mentioned that we didn’t hear about the storm until maybe two days before it happened, yeah I think I first heard about it on Monday and so I was like “What?? Did I not hear about this?” But no, that’s just how violent and volatile our weather patterns under climate change are. But you know, like, I live in Tallahassee, Andrew (Gillum) is our mayor, he’s running for governor of Florida, and I mean like, whenever I had power he did a good job, I guess, of like being on facebook, keeping people updated, or whatever, but you know, the Tallahassee city government and his administration, there’s nothing tangible really, that they have done. And I don’t want to call him out, obviously it’s a product of our state government and our national government also being wildly insufficient, like I think I saw a Rick Scott (inaudible) about having like, million cases of water or something for Floridians, but it’s not, you know, what always happens is that when government agencies or administrators do respond, it’s first of all, widely accompanied by local grassroots efforts, and that really helps to get those communities that aren’t as like, spectacular, easy for the media to cover, and like (inaudible) these government agents, and two, you know, they’ll stay for the immediate relief efforts, but leave, you know, what happens weeks later when there’s still people who are homeless and displaced? Because we don’t have free and universal housing. What happens to the people in Panama City who no longer have a hospital? We don’t have free and universal healthcare, or we don’t have, you know, a great public transportation system that could get them to Tallahassee, or get them to Pensacola, or wherever they need to go for, you know, healthcare. So, you know, you’ve said that there’s two people who have died, and that is in and of itself is tragic, but I’m scared for the people who are going to die in the upcoming weeks and months in the aftermath of this storm, because they don’t get the long term relief that they need.
JK: Yeah, and let me add something to that too, there was a fascinating article in the Washington Post over the weekend, talking about the after-effects of the last hurricane, what was it, Florence, in the outer banks of North Carolina. The outer banks were completely soaked, even the inner banks, completely soaked to overflowing, and as a result there are these unprecedentedly enormous mosquitos, that scientists just have never seen before. The paper said that there were 69 (nice) different species of mosquito in North Carolina, these ones are gigantic, and it’s because of all the water, and it said that West Nile virus and other viruses that are making their way north, mostly from the Caribbean, are bad enough, but with these enormous mosquitos, the transmission of these diseases is going to be even worse. We’re going to see disease outbreaks like West Nile for example, and I forget the name of the other one that’s causing problems in Florida.
BB: I’m glad you mentioned that John, because there’s all of these associated attendant events, we’ve run out of time actually, but I want to ask just Shelby because again the government is not organized in a way to actually meet human needs or social needs, it’s really designed, government, to facilitate profit making by companies, but Shelby, when you talked to us yesterday, if Rick Scott had ordered an evacuation a week ago or four days ago, if you had more advance notice, how would you or other people have actually left, and where would you have gone? We have 30 seconds left.
SS: I’m not really sure if I actually would have left, because I’m glad I’m here now in the immediate aftermath to do relief aid, but I would have certainly, you know, liked the option, umm, I would have certainly liked to possibly buy a bus ticket before they price-gouged, you know, the pricing surge.
BB: You don’t have a car?
SS: No I do not have a car.
BB: So like, for people who don’t have cars, is the government organizing transportation to bring people to evacuation centers?
SS: No, of course not, and you know it’s funny that like, you know, Uber and Lyft will give free rides to voting polls, because now voting is like, the liberal replacement for an actual, radical change, but they won’t offer free rides to people who are trying to evacuate, who are trying to, you know, get survival supplies for a hurricane.
BB: That says it all.
JK: Yeah, it really does, it’s insane.
BB: Shelby Shoup, we are out of time, we want to thank you, perhaps we’ll be back to you in the coming days, we hope of course, that you and your family and your neighbors and friends are safe, but of course this is gonna be a big effort, again, right now the media is focused on the catastrophe, but after a few days, the media’s attention will go elsewhere, and I believe the government is not organized and has not prioritized actually making sure the people in the Florida panhandle have the needs that they have be met. Anyway, Shelby Shoup, thanks so much.
SS: No problem, thank you!