Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good Night Irene

It's 10:30 on Sunday morning and my stomach is still in knots after our visit from Hurricane Irene last night. I hope the worst is over for us, but I'm still worried about friends and family who may not yet be out of the woods. Thankfully the storm did not hit our area with nearly the ferocity predicted. There's been lots of rain, but winds did not get as high as when the storm was stronger. The water is still a big problem, especially for those in low-lying areas. From what I saw on TV, New Jersey and Long Island had it worse. Heavily treed areas saw a lot of damage, especially loss of power as toppling trees took down power lines. By the grace of God we are safe, and for that we are very thankful.

As I look back over the past couple of days, I think about the build-up to this event, especially Saturday's news coverage. Virtually every major network in our area offered non-stop storm programming. Hundreds of reporters, cameramen, and technical support personnel pounded us with Irene stories, most of them redundant and hardly newsworthy.  By the end of the day, viewers were frazzled by the bombardment of images and words. I knew there was a storm coming, and I certainly want to be kept abreast of any changes, but to be beaten over the head with the same information just wears me out. Tired old footage from past storms and countless interviews with people who have absolutely nothing to say makes no sense to me.

All the weather geeks are quivering with excitement and anticipation...instead of being relegated to an afterthought on the nightly news, this is THEIR hour. They try to outdo each other with techno-babble like who invented the scale they use to categorize hurricanes. Who cares! To the best of your knowledge, tell me when the storm is coming and where, what conditions I can expect, and let me know if anything changes. That's all. I don't need 24/7 coverage of mouth-breathers telling me what it was like in 1992 when Hurricane Waldo hit. I would rather see something like a Seinfeld or Honeymooners marathon so at least I have something to laugh at while waiting for doomsday.

And here's another thing. I can understand if hurricanes excite you, after all, they are extraordinary weather events that some people may want to see up close. I can even understand if you're a surfer and want a crack at the kind of waves you'd have to go to Hawaii to see. It's your life and you are responsible for safeguarding it, even if that means ignoring the warnings to stay indoors and away from the dangers of the storm. Here's the thing though...don't expect good people to risk their lives if you get into trouble. If you want to put your life at risk by doing what you are specifically told not to do, then it's your ass. My son is a firefighter and I don't want his life put at risk to save someone too stupid to live.

We are fortunate in New York City. We have four seasons, each with its own pros and cons. We normally don't get the weather extremes like tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes that plague other parts of the country, although this week provided us with one each of the latter two. Every once in a while we get a bad snowstorm but that's pretty much it. When we do get exposed to events like Irene, our common sense should prevail, as it does for most people. I think the local governments did a great job in advising people how to prepare, and took sensible measures themselves like evacuating flood-prone areas, shutting down mass transit, and suspending bridge tolls to facilitate movement of traffic. Hats off to the Mayor, and especially to our local officials who kept us informed of area developments.

Advice for future events: To the media, less obsessive coverage please; to the daredevils, stay at home you morons; to the people, do what you're asked to do and keep an eye out for your neighbors; and to the first responders who are out in all the danger, thank you a thousand times over for keeping us safe at your own peril.


Children's Cranioacial Association


Joseph Del Broccolo said...

I was on a cruise ship with TLW, listening to reports about the doomsday event. The hype with no end in sight in the middle of the oean is disconcerting!

Jim Pantaleno said...

My neighbor too. That was probably an adventure you could have done without!