Thoughts on Irene

Hurricane Irene
Irene as seen from space

I’ve had the TV on all day, tuned to CNN, watching the news and worrying about everyone on the East Coast. Specifically, I worry about those few individuals I know there. I keep reminding myself that these folks will undoubtedly be listening to their local officials, not CNN news hounds, and will have the best, most up-to-date information for their locales.

One man was grumbling over on Huffington Post about government officials forcing him to evacuate. How dare they! He was staying put. Okay, I thought, just don’t ask those same officials to come rescue you if you get into trouble. And don’t expect me, a taxpayer, to pay them to come get you (as if I had a choice).


I worry about those 90 NY seniors who are refusing to evacuate. One of them cited health reasons and the care they couldn’t get in an evacuation center. It would be a nightmare, she said. So their caregivers are staying with them in their high rise? The reporter didn’t ask that. They all sat around smiling and defiant while they sucked oxygen from their tanks. Good. I’m glad they have each other. Because before the weekend is out, they may find they are in desperate need and don’t have anyone else.

I sympathize with those who don’t want to leave their homes, who think it will be inconvenient, or worse. And I’m certainly in no position to speak to the dangers of high water and flooding. Wind I’m more familiar with. A lifetime of tornadoes in Oklahoma. Ninety-mile-per-hour chinook winds roaring off the foothills here. You don’t want hours of sustained 90 mph winds, I can tell you that. And the power outages. You ever been through a long power outage? I lived through a surprise ice storm in Atlanta back in the ’70s that knocked out the power for three days. You don’t want to go through that either. With any advance warning, we’d have left. But we had no warning and believe me, that was not a fun three days.


I got a good laugh from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who got frustrated with people not obeying evacuation advice and said: “I saw some of these news feeds that I’ve been watching upstairs of people sitting on the beach in Asbury Park. Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You’re done. It’s 4:30. You’ve maximized your tan. Get off the beach. Get in your cars and get out of those areas.” Not always fun being a governor.

A hurricane expert on a New York beach, in an interview, was worried about New Yorkers not heeding the warnings: “You can always tell a New Yorker … but you can’t tell him much.”

So yes, I’m worried about those people on the East Coast, especially farther north where they don’t have hurricanes very often. But it could be I’m worried for no reason. After all, the way CNN is hyping the story, there’s no way of knowing what the reality is.


It occurs to me, as CNN fixates on Hurricane Irene, that a good two-thirds or three-fourths of the country is not being affected by it. Surely there is some news happening in the rest of the country. Live storm shots from the beaches of North Carolina are so much more interesting than yet another story about the heat in Oklahoma or the latest haboob in Phoenix. But come on. Couldn’t we have a 5-minute update on the rest of the world, say, every hour or two?

So great is CNN’s disconnect (or focus, if you prefer), I’ve even had mental pictures of a soccer referee in Tripoli running down the street blowing his whistle and calling a time-out in the action while CNN focuses on the hurricane. When the hurricane passes, he’ll blow his whistle again and signal “play on” and everyone will start shooting again (bullets, not soccer balls). Gadhafi has probably enjoyed the time-out, gotten a good night’s sleep, ordered in some kusksi and tea, and just generally relaxed for a while. I can’t think of any other explanation for there being no mention of Libya all day, not even in the smallest scrolling type at the bottom of the screen.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts on Irene

  1. Pied, you remind me of something that’s new regarding being in a hurricane… Since I’ve lived most of my life near the Gulf Coast, I’ve been through many hurricanes, the most recent was Ike. The something new that’s happened is that television has gone entirely to digital signals. I’ve done just about everything reasonable to survive during a hurricane, such as installing a generator that powers the whole house, but I’m referring to televisions in particular here. When the broadcasts went to digital, I raised my antenna to about 40 feet so that I could get local stations without cable. Back when we had analog signals, even during the worst of weather, we could get a snowy picture and decent sound, but now that the signals are digital… in bad weather… you get a blue screen and no sound. It goes without saying that your cable TV service is completely gone. Thanks (again) to the government, now you absolutely have to have a radio and a good antenna. If they ever force us to go to digital radio, we’ll be completely on our own during inclement weather.

    1. The government really does need to consider what people will use for communications in such an emergency. They never do anything until a disaster shows up the communications failures, and then after a period of moaning, they continue to do nothing. Would those little emergency radios with batteries and hand cranks work? I don’t know much about radio signals. And the only one I have now is the one in the car. They’ve talked about cell phone towers being vulnerable in big storms, so we can’t count on that.

      … ah, at least Fox News is scrolling world news …

      1. The answer is yes, but an ordinary battery operated portable will work just as well as long as you have a good supply of batteries in the freezer. Keeping them in the freezer merely extends their shelf life. I’ve installed a connector from my TV antenna to my radio, but if it gets blown down, I’ll be out of luck again. On another note, this dry, hot weather has killed about 7 big oak trees around my house and I’m going to have to get them removed before the next hurricane. Like Rosanne Rosanna Danna says, “It’s always something.”

      2. Well, the hand-crank radios get around the battery problem. I should probably have one on hand.

        I’m so sorry to hear about your oaks. Magnificent trees, shade for the house, great boost to your property value. Losing 7 at once is a real tragedy.

  2. Yeah, this is pretty spot-on. This was indeed a major event and should have been covered by CNN, but not to the extent that it was. There’s several billion people this did not effect, and a lot of news that went uncovered this weekend.

... and that's my two cents