Irene (tf)

It’s Sunday at 1pm and it’s pretty much over. The wind has died down and the rain has slowed significantly. The worst-case scenarios have, thankfully, not come to pass.

Like most, for the last 30+ hours I’ve been battered more by MSNBC and CNN than the weather. I went to bed last night being told New York City might be full of boats in the morning. (I slept in my basement nuzzled against my sump pump, lulled to sleep by its near continuous eruptions. I noticed my pump was made in Ireland. Another reason to love the Irish. It’s keep me dry for 2 years now, and weathered yet another storm).

A young boy died in the storm…..crushed by a tree that fell into his 2nd floor apartment. There’s a large tree in the yard behind our house, and I did some quick visual measurements and asked my daughter not to sleep in her 2nd floor room situated towards the back of the house. She agreed. I feel kinda sheepish and reactionary now… if I was bullied into panic. But then again I’m not sure there’s a way to overreact when it comes to the safety of your children.

Yesterday was filled with biblical forecasts of doom and destruction. Today the same talking heads are explaining why, for most of the East Coast, it seemed like no more than a severe thunderstorm. I used to live on the banks of the Lackawanna River, and I can think of at least half a dozen instances of it lapping up into our yard after prolonged rains. I just drove down to my old stomping grounds and the river, while not exactly docile, is well within its banks. It almost made me feel smug.

So let the naysaying begin. The charges of hype will surely fly. And the next time a hurricane roars up the coast even more folks will ignore the warnings to get the hell out of the way, remembering “Irene” and what didn’t happen more than what did. Yesterday they were reporting that Ocean City, Maryland could suffer catastrophic damages. This morning it’s sunny there and surfers are in the water. The hotels and beaches and bars will be open for business tomorrow. In the Battery Park section of NYC, which was supposed to be inundated by a huge storm surge, the police have nothing more to do than chase kids away from splashing in large puddles. I feel a bit whip-sawed by it all.

I sent a text to a good friend of mine who lives in Luzerne County. I mentioned my fear of basement flooding, and he reminded me that his house ended up floating down the Susquehanna river during the Agnes Flood of 1972. That brought some much needed perspective.

It could have been worse. So much worse.

In truth, we just got lucky. “Only” 10 people died, which is small comfort for the families of the deceased but quite remarkable when you think back to those satellite images showing a raging storm larger than the continent of Europe snaking its way up the coast. Even an astronaut viewing the storm from space called it “terrifying”. You hardly needed to be an expert to fear this ghastly computerized blob on the map. Nothing this large can be good.

At the last moment it appeared to veer East, sparing New York City the relentless rain and storm surges projected. It’s still not over, as it’s currently drenching New England. But mainly it’s turned from biblical to inconvenient. Power outages. Flash floods. Fallen trees. Even the cable news channels seem bored by now. Reporters seem glassy-eyed.

In modern memory, Irene probably won’t last much longer than the storm itself.

I do wonder what that says about us.

–Tom Flannery


~ by admin on August 28, 2011.

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