Irene was a stunning experience. Not the strongest hurricane in nature’s arsenal of significant weather events, but she certainly demanded the attention of at least 2/3 of the East Coast of America and of a portion of coastal Canada also. It is our great good fortune that this hurricane, on this track, was not any stronger than it was. Something about the human spirit needs excess. If a hurricane is Category 4 we secretly feel a certain grim satisfaction. If we prepare for disaster and it doesn’t come, we know we are wrong, but we feel vaguely let down. This is a tiny portion of our human nature and a sort of bizarre aspect we are not really proud of. Our more rational self says this storm was quite large enough, thank you.
I say this storm was large enough to justify the preparations taken by our state and local governments. I already hear people complaining that the lead in to this weather event was a perfect example of overkill and given that every channel on TV had 24 hour a day coverage it would seem to be true. Actually this is more a function of channels dedicated to all news all the time and we must admit we were fascinated. There wasn’t a lot of other news going on with our government on hiatus and, although it was a bit excessive, we couldn’t look away.
I’m sure that every part of us except that little portion that is titillated by catastrophe is happy that a hurricane like this which hugged the East Coast for so many hundreds of miles was not as strong as we feared it would be. If I was one of those who was evacuated from my home and then felt that I had been inconvenienced for nothing I might feel differently. I was, however, happy to see our dysfunctional government is not so bad at the state and local level and was able to work in concert when necessary. That was reassuring.
Now we will have to spend millions of dollars that we don’t have to clean up from this hurricane/tropical storm, but not as much as we would have had to spend if it had been more powerful. Now we have lost millions in tourist dollars that would have contributed to the economies of the affected states, but tourist services will be back on line much sooner than they would have been if the storm had lived up to its early hype. Let’s count our blessings, thank our leaders and our newscasters and move on to cleaning up and living our lives.