No thinking person jokes about disasters, particularly those over which we have no control. One can only imagine the horror that the residents of Ft Myers and Cape Coral  and the environs are feeling right now. They rightly deserve our prayers and support. Homes and businesses destroyed, friends lost, it is a nightmare.

I am always stunned by immature clods that use these disasters to make fun and press their own agendas. Now is the time to go all in, show your support, and do what you can to help. Its not the time to tweet ‘funny’ things about death and destruction.

I’m ashamed to say that someone from our industry posted the following:

Terrifying photo, but take solace from the fact that somewhere right out there is surly a place to park your car.

There was a picture of floodwaters about to destroy a house. This was written by the head of Parking Reform Network Tony Jordan and ‘liked’ by Reinventing Parking founder Paul Barter.

I’m saddened because I know personally both Tony and Paul and felt they had more feeling, empathy, and understand than this quote shows. I can only hope that this was a knee jerk reaction and they will come to their senses. But, there you go. Sometimes disasters bring out a person’s true feelings. Its sad that we can’t put aside our political issues for at least a few weeks and help our parents, friends, and families dig out from disaster. But the world is filled with sadness.

Yes, the brave people of Florida will rebuild and repair their lives. However it won’t be the ‘same.’ Personal treasures have been lost, human beings injured or killed, lives upended. Right now, they are in a recovery mode. One can only imagine how they felt, watching their homes and futures being destroyed. They deserve our prayers, support, empathy, and friendship.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

6 Responses

  1. Thank you John. While my wife and I are physically ok we will never forget the sight of our home being ripped apart or the wrestling match we had with the front door to keep it from blowing in for over 4 hours. We prepared and protected our home and valuables as suggested. Yet, one can never be fully prepared for a storm like Ian. In times like this you find out who your friends are. Thankfully, I have many and for that I’m am blessed.

  2. Dear Frank,

    God bless you and your wife and everyone in SW Florida. I can’t even imagine. Where do you live Frank? My parents live in Cape Coral and I am moving there in November. We were blessed than my brother drove to them to pick them up to take them to South Carolina. The water from the canal came to our door destroying the docks, fences and such. I just prayed and fasted and prayed and prayed because I am like Job, I know nothing and I surrender to the wisdom of the Lord, and just do what He guides me. I have friends who lost homes and cars. Some on Pine Island I can’t find still. My heart and my prayers go out to you and your wife and your family and everyone in SW Florida. As you said, no one can predict such biblical disasters. Thank you Frank and truly praying with all of me while striving to be of use from here from LA.

    Sincerely, Astrid Ambroziak

  3. John, I don’t think Tony intended any disrespect with that tweet. I certainly didn’t when I “liked” it on twitter.

    Victims of a disaster certainly deserve nothing but care and assistance.

    Tony is a friend and I know he is someone who cares deeply about people and about human suffering. Trying to prevent such suffering is a big part of why he does what he does. I doubt he put a huge amount of thought into that particular quick tweet but it is not the callous and uncaring message you seem to think it is.

    ** A key point is that Hurricane Ian was a climate-change-ENHANCED disaster. ** Climate-change enhanced disasters, such as Ian, the Pakistan floods, fires and floods in Australia and many others, are indeed enormous tragedies. No-one is trying to minimize that or make fun of it.

    I “liked” the tweet because I broadly agree with the effort to raise awareness that there are serious consequences of the (seemingly harmless) activity of trying to keep parking hugely abundant and cheap or free-of-charge. But it is not harmless! It fuels car dependence and blocks enhancements to transportation choice (such as bus priority lanes, bike safety measures such as protected bike lanes, pedestrian safety improvements, and so on). It worsens a wide variety of problems. Climate change is just one of them. It’s an important message that is worth saying, even at a time of tragedy.

    Yes, the tweet is confronting.

    It is basically saying that striving to keep your local parking plentiful and free is making such disasters worse. That might come as a shock to many people. Fighting the loss of some local parking seems like a small thing but multiplied across the world, it has huge implications. Tony’s tweet tried to prod people to see the bigger picture beyond local parking convenience. A tiny bit of change to your parking arrangements, and even just a little bit of parking inconvenience (walking a little maybe and paying a little maybe), is a small thing compared with the consequences of climate change not being slowed down fast enough.

    It is “black humor” (a long tradition in the face of tragedy). But it was not kicking down (as some nasty humor does). The tweet was poking fun at ‘parking nimbys’ and their indirect role in the disaster, not at the disaster victims.

    The fact that the link between local parking issues and the disaster is indirect was part of the “black humor” irony. My reaction before clicking “like” was a wry and very sad smile at the irony. but certainly no pleasure in anyone’s pain. I can’t speak for the 47 other people who liked the tweet so far.

    By the way, no one is saying that climate change caused Hurricane Ian. But as climate scientist Prof. Katharine Hayhoe explains, there is strong evidence that human-caused climate change is making hurricanes worse. It is not making hurricanes more frequent but it IS causing them to intensify faster, be stronger overall, and dump a lot more rain. See https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6981364051763232768/

    I don’t see anything wrong with drawing attention to the seriousness of climate change when a climate-enhanced disaster is on many minds. Doing so does not insult the victims or downplay the seriousness of the disaster.

    Is making such a point “pushing an agenda”? Well yes. You seem to have a problem with that. Do you really think that now is the wrong moment or is it that you just disagree with the need for action on climate change? Please reflect: do you take offense when someone links a current tragedy with a point you agree with? Anyway, slowing climate change is not some frivolous thing. It is an important and public-minded agenda on which huge numbers of human lives hinge. The aim is to reduce the number of future tragedies. That tweet was not about making money or getting famous or any selfish agenda. It was drawing attention to one of the most important issues of our time and to the fact that outdated attitudes to parking convenience and outdated parking policies are part of the problem (just one of many of course).

    By the way, many people in the parking industry, especially in those parts of it that enable well-managed parking, are very much part of the solution. Climate change is just one of many problems that better parking management helps to ease. We already have various parking industry folks in the Parking Reform Network and I hope many more will join! We are generally on the same side here.

    I do see that the tweet may have been a little too flippant for the moment but Tony really did not deserve the harsh words in your blog post.

  4. Thank you to Paul Barter for eloquently put into words what my reaction to this surface-level, defensive blog post would have been. How do I get off of the Parking magazine mailing list?

  5. Dear Lindsay:

    We are happy to remove you from our mailing list. Please log on to Parking Today and go to subscriber services.

    I assume you have no friends or relatives in the path of Ian. Those of us who do do not appreciate the “Black Humor” irony. But, there you are.


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