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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
  • Up here, 200 miles or so northwest of you, there is major flooding.

  • And the real problem is that next time, people won’t pay attention. They won’t leave. They’ll blow it off, because of the “storm that never was.”

    But then, you’ll have this:

  • This is the problem with 24 hours rolling news coverage – the same story is repeated until the next story because there is no new story the same story is repeated until the next story because there is no new story …………….. luckily we have had our intrepid reporter on the spot to tell us the real story. Hey, what is that in the sky, is it a man, is it a bird, no it’s SUPERMAN!!

  • I was in NYC too, and only a few gusts of wind blew but quite a lot of rain poured down. It was just like a tropical storm except people compared it to Hurricane Katrina and panicked.

  • I think the whole world is media crazy and the media, desperate to keep providing new fodder, embelish anything and everything just for a story. Whilst there are situations it is better to be safe than sorry, this one seems to have been overdone. Hindsight is always 20-20 of course.

  • Muriel: I didn’t know you were/are in NYC!! Would have loved to meet up and say Hi.

    OK…I know NO ONE is going to like what I’m going to say: I think this whole evacuation thing has been planned for a long time, and Irene was the excuse they used to put it in motion.

    NYC is IMPOSSIBLE to leave when the roads get jammed. The previous Saturday night, at 9pm, it took me an hour+ to get from the Grenwich Village to 52nd street, something that normally would take a fraction of that time on the West Side Highway. EVERY Avenue uptown was running with cop cars, fire trucks, ambulances, etc…it was a nightmare, but funny…none of it made any news.

    We’ve never, to my knowledge, had an evacuation plan for the city. I think this was their way of seeing how it would work out. Period.

    Better safe than sorry? Yeah, but we’ve had, as you said earlier, much heavier rains from Nor’easters than this.

  • Better to be safe than sorry 🙂

  • I agree the news coverage was insane! I was complaining about all the hyped up bull until I saw some coverage of areas that did get hit pretty bad. And the after effects with the flooding of streets and people having to be rescued from their homes. I know there are worse storms in other parts of the world but…….This is where they live and I think most people who live there were happy with the caution that was taken. Hopefully you had a good time before Irene and after she passed through Have a safe flight back to London on Tuesday 🙂

  • I agree that the news coverage sensationalizes most things for the populace who loves reality TV.

    But I disagree with your slam on public officials who tried to act with the limited scientific weather information they had at hand. Evacuations take time. At the time when they had to be started, the weather forecast was frightening for the NY area.

    Perhaps you would prefer to be the person making the call on these types of life and death decisions?

  • Welcome to the U.S. Or better said, New York where everything is bigger, more exaggerated, more extreme, more scary/horrifying, more exciting, more paranoid, more interesting, more important than anything that could ever be happening anywhere else.

    I knew this so-called hurricane would be downgraded to a tropical storm but why not let the media have its day, give the public a real fright and more reason to be more paranoid and scared out of their wits? In our European (foreign) eyes, this was a lot of hype over nothing. But the whole country just lapped it up. Who cares about Libya or real natural disasters somewhere else?

  • yes yes yes…
    news coverage here is always crazy on crazy stuff!!!!

    just glad you are safe and hope you got to have enjoyable time in NYC! 🙂

    (also, awarded you at my blog…. won’t be the first time, hehehehe …. 🙂 ….))))

  • Hey Muriel,

    I wasn’t remotely close but hen you touch on an important topic – 24 hour news coverage; they might get a little frustrating at times and because they don’t have any thing else better they tend to sensationalize news!

    Maybe being safe than sorry was one way to look at it; but then our attitudes changes; like many people say here, next time it will be like this – Oh, let’s not bother, it isn’t going to be severe!

  • My friend was caught up in the mess as a result of this. Her flight home was delayed 2 days even after the storm was downgraded. But as others said, better safe than sorry.