American Elephants

Glad You’re Alright, East Coast Folk. by The Elephant's Child

Hurricane Irene has been downgraded to a mere tropical storm. Uncomfortable or worse for many, with power outages and  fallen trees, but most of us have been there and done that.  The media, as usual, vastly overhyped the event.  Apparently every region has their version of “STORMWATCH” and they send crews out to find pictures of disaster of one sort or another to prove that it was indeed a terrible event.  Photographers found some damaged boats, docks, decks, and at least one tree through a roof, and lots of excess water.

The hype led President Obama to “take charge” at the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) set up at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) headquarters in Washington.  All spokesmen in the media and the White House emphasized how much the President was in charge and on top of things, but unfortunately the storm did not really cooperate by giving him much of anything to be in charge of.  NOAA had overestimated wind speeds by taking readings from the wrong altitude.

It could have been a lot worse.  The east coast has had hurricanes do a lot of damage on occasion in the past.  Let’s just say that everyone tried hard to be responsible and keep people from being harmed, and for the most part they did. So lets not make too much of the “optics” to use the new buzz word for the way things look. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and preparedness.

4 Comments so far
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I don’t understand.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution and preparedness.

I agree.

The media, as usual, vastly overhyped the event.

If they wanted to make sure people paid attention, then “hyping” may be what is necessary. I am currently in an area that, had it taken a direct hit (instead) of passing to the west, the hurricane could have done much damage and left tens of thousands of vacationers stranded. But, until this morning, when the high winds began, the weather was scrumptious — sunny with very little wind. It was very hard, even knowing what I knew, to fully appreciate that a storm was near. And there were plenty of locals who were saying, “Aw, it won’t be any different than one of our nor’easters.”

Thanks to the fine weather that preceded the storm, Governors of every state within Irene’s path, and of every political party, pleaded people to be prepared and to take the storm seriously. So if the media stressed the potential dangers, I think that was much better than playing down those dangers.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Well, I’m not in charge of media response, but I assume I would be calmer. Last big windstorm here we had two big trees come down, fortunately they laid down nicely between my house and the lane just below us. No damage except to plants. Because we had no emergency, we had to wait a long time to get them cut up, but we got a lovely stock of firewood out of it, as did my sons. Been through earthquake, flood (took out a railroad bridge and five of our buildings) lightening strike (Boy is that loud!!), been attacked by a Great Horned Owl, a rattlesnake and charged by an angry potato bug, so you can see that I’m vastly experienced.
The media is trained to make the most of the news to sell papers or sell their website over competing websites so they over do to compete.In this case, it was every talk radio show that filled their time slot with constant storm talk and storm guests. Everyone is trying to help, but the over-hype leads listeners to disregard the warnings— as hype. Saw pictures of surfers trying to take advantage of the waves. Don’t know if they survived.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Ah, OK. Now I understand: you’re not downplaying the potential danger, but concerned about over-exaggeration leading to people discounting the warnings. I can understand that concern, but I think in this case — given the recent history of Hurricane Katrina — that there was good cause for a lot of focus on Isabelle. For one, as it left the Bahamas it was a category 2 storm, with a trajectory aimed at the biggest concentration of people and real estate in the country. (The crazy thing, of course, is the repairs to buildings will contribute to GDP.) Not only that, but its size was much greater than normal. And its landfall in New England coincided with an “astronomical high tide” — i.e., it would be pushing water towards the shore just as the tide was at its monthly peak.

Haven’t seen all the reports, but I gather that in the end the death and injury toll has been lower than it could have been.

By the way, I consider the coverage given by the NYT and the Boston Globe to have been appropriate. Didn’t have a look at USA Today.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Oops, I meant Irene.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

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