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Irene has come and gone. And now, I am going to be blunt: in New York City, it was nothing more than a summer downpour.  At 10 am this morning we went for a walk and quickly managed to find an open coffee shop. New York was back to its former self.
I have seen much, much worse weather conditions in Singapore or in Saint Tropez, without half of the sensationalist media coverage. On the cable, the reporters have remained outside during the “hurricane”, always yelling in their microphone, iPads tucked under their arms, and using words like “fury”, “full force of Mother Nature” and to be honest with you, we were all made to feel that it was going to be Armageddon…In the street, at the hotel, people were telling us to “stay safe” and we even heard things like “see you tomorrow – if we all survive!”.
Everything else has stopped. Even now that the storm has gone, nothing is said about the fights in Libya or the typhoon in the Philippines. We keep hearing Major Bloomberg and a suite of officials on the news. I am not from here, but there is some serious political positioning going on.
Don’t get me wrong, the weather conditions were severe, but not extreme. And they didn’t last long. I believe that the metros could have circulated until much later and there was no need to completely shut the city down. Some flexibility could have been kept (minimal service of metro and buses), depending on how the situation was going to develop. I know that it is easier said than done and hindsight is a wonderful thing. But I also know that if mandatory evacuations are set up every time there is a summer storm, people will not trust the system any more. On top of this, something uglier is going on: listening to the media, you were led to believe that this was going to be a life or death situation, and that most of New York would be flooded. As a result, the “hurricane” that dared not say it was a storm became the common enemy, and people went over the top to protect themselves from it, shielding the glass windows with wooden panels and putting useless sandbags in front of the doors, even in higher grounds. Irene had become a common obsession, an excuse not to think about anything else. To me, this was a direct consequence of the style (and lack of substance) of the media coverage.
Well, I hope that things will go back to normal.
As for me, I should be back home Tuesday morning.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London