Opinion

Oak Harbor needs disaster relief

To: Federal Emergency Management Agency

From: The people of Oak Harbor

We would like to report a disaster, which requires substantial federal funding to address. We trust that you are still sensitive to the political fallout from your sorry performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and won’t let the same thing happen in Oak Harbor.

Our disaster did not receive widespread coverage from the media, which at the time was consumed by a conspiracy of a group of teenagers to get pregnant. But the fact that our disaster occurred in a media blackout does not mean it was any less disastrous, or that we are any less deserving of federal assistance.

Our disaster occurred Monday, June 16, 2008, when the first Oak Harbor High School graduation ceremony to be held outdoors in the modern era was struck by high winds. These conditions aren’t unusual for our city, but it’s the first time the wind has ever hit 800 soon-to-be graduates in their flimsy robes, while thousands of shivering family members looked on in dismay from the frigid stands of our new Wildcat Memorial Stadium. Even now, more than two weeks later, many Oak Harbor residents remain in shock from what transpired that night.

We have enclosed video footage from Wildcat TV whose courageous reporters filmed the entire disaster. As you can see, the crisis started as the Class of 2008 filed onto the field to be seated.

Onlookers were shocked as gowns were fiercely blown around, answering that age-old question, “What exactly are they wearing under those gowns?” Fortunately, our graduates are morally upright individuals, all wearing clothing under their gowns, but what if this had happened somewhere else, like South Whidbey? The resulting video could not have been shown in a family situation.

Some of our graduates suffered gown damage in the wind, and later in the ceremony when they threw their caps into the air, some of the caps blew away like kites, never to be seen again. This struck a financial blow to our families, who have to replace the gowns and hats out of their own pockets.

But far worse was the hair damage, which decimated the styles of our graduates. Estimates are that, on average, the grads paid $100 for the perfect coiffure for the ceremony. None of these hair-dos survived the tragic events of that night. It was a pitiful sight as the grads valiantly tried to push down their caps to hold their tresses in place, only to lose cap and hairstyle in a single gust of wind. You do the math. That’s $80,000 in hairstyle losses alone, not counting the gowns and the caps.

But the actual losses are nothing compared to the mental anguish our people suffered that graduation night. Parents watched in shock as their loved ones’ gowns twisted, caps flew, and hair grew disheveled. Cherished family photos will look disastrous for all time: Mom, dad and junior, blue-in-the-face and shivering, standing next to the proud grad, with hair frizzled and piled up like Marge Simpson’s, and tears in her or his eyes. This is not the stuff of which graduation memories are made!

As the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it is your duty to compensate Oak Harbor with federal disaster relief funds so we can rebuild our lives. And please, send in teams of expert hair stylists immediately, even if you have to search every beauty parlor in America for Republican beauticians. Our grads can’t get on with their lives and forget that fateful night of June 16, 2008, until their tresses are back in place.

Thanks for listening. And we’ll be waiting for the checks.

Editor’s column

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