There's this monster of a hurricane churning in the Gulf of Mexico. And no one knows where it will go. From Mexico to West Florida. It can go anywhere. A large section of the US bible belt coast-line is in the firing line, as is south Texas and northern Mexico. Everyone is worried.
Now, let's focus on a typical rural scenario. There's this small town-by-the-sea somewhere in Louisiana. There's a rather unusual absence of vehicles on the roads. The place bears a deserted look. Because all the cars that are not on the road are at Church. Because, they reckon, only god can save them from the hurricane. Having seen New Orleans after Katrina, their sentiment is understandable. So, they pray. They pray for the hurricane to go away. They pray for the path of the hurricane to spare their helpless little parish.
The aforementioned scenario is generic. Take that scenario and multiply it by the number of churches on the gulf coast (an octillion or so).
And that's how many prayers god received in his inbox one morning, much to his chagrin. All these requests to alter the path of the hurricane posed quite an ugly problem to him. Because, one man's request was another man's nightmare. By responding positively to a prayer from church A in Louisiana, he could in fact be going against a prayer from Church B in Texas - which would cause a mass-loss-of-faith in Texas - something undesirable to god. For religion is all about making people gain faith, not lose it.
God was faced with an extremely tough optimization problem. What course could he undertake to minimize the damage to his good name? He could choose to inflict the damage in the most sparsely populated area along the gulf coast;hHe could also choose to inflict the damage on the area with the least density of believers; on the area with the least number of churches or perhaps the area with the largest number of criminals. To god, the objective function of the optimization problem itself was quite nebulous.
Before we talk about god's decision, let us take a minor digression. Let us talk about a hypothetical little village in northern Mexico. Let's call it D. A wretched, poor little village. A village so poor that most people do not have access to news on TV. A village where most people did not know about the hurricane until the government asked them to evacuate. No time for prayers.
It was quite unfortunate for the residents of D that god decided to go by the "prayer density" objective function. He decided to direct the hurricane into the area from which he received the least number of prayers per hundred documented residents. Thousands perished. D was below sea level.
Moral of story:
Pray. Watch TV. Don't be poor.