UPDATE TO THE UPDATES:
Been so busy with my real job I have not had any time to do new posts since posting this, but as of now on 9-1-11 I read that the federal government is going to be stuck with billions of dollars in repair costs because so many people did not have flood insurance. Also, I saw a newspaper headline that said the Republicans are going to try to inject politics by refusing to fund extra money for hurricane repair unless they can get and equal amount of tax cuts. Have not had time to digest all that yet. Hopefully in a day or so I will have time to post more on this and other things, such as, and what about that Jon Huntsman?
(And I note that Wikipedia now lists 55 as the total U.S. death toll from Irene.)
UPDATE (8:39 P.M. PDT):
For a hurricane some say was over hyped, it seems awful deadly, with the U.S. death toll at 40 (with flooding causing much of the danger and damage) at the last I read.
UPDATE (8:24 A.M. PDT):
While not as strong as feared, Hurricane Irene has caused billions of dollars of damage to U.S. territory from Puerto Rico to Vermont, and there is massive flooding now in Vermont and flooding elsewhere, according to news reports this morning. Millions are without power, and it could be up to a week for some customers to get it restored, and there is expected to be damage to natural gas lines. Supposedly it’s been a boost for the economy since people bought supplies for preparation and are buying materials for repair and preparation for the next one and because there is a need for public works projects to repair damage. I don’t see how that would be a net gain, though. An economy based on disaster?
I’m somewhat puzzled by the carping that officials overreacted to Hurricane Irene and that President Obama was just trying to make political hay out of it, showing that he was in charge and on top of things and there to save people and all.
As anyone who has ever listened to or viewed weather forecasts knows, weather predictions are still an inexact science.
The early reports classified Hurricane Irene as category 3 I believe and it was thought it could become category 4 or 5 (5 being the highest or worst). But by the time it made landfall over the last 24 hours or so it was downgraded to a category 1 and then a little later to a tropical storm.
In an unprecedented move, Mayor Bloomberg called for the evacuation of certain low-lying areas of Manhattan and shut down the mass transit system to include the subways. People all over the middle Atlantic were advised by governors to evacuate. Millions of people were affected.
The federal government did some advance work, with the president taking the necessary actions and giving the necessary orders.
But people, particularly in parts of the country away from the eastern seaboard, scoffed at what they saw as exaggerated predictions and unnecessary panic and political posturing.
At least eighteen people have died in events attributed to the hurricane and there has been much flooding and property damage and power outages, but it has not been as bad as it was feared in might have been.
But what if it had and all the preparations were not done?
There would have been all kinds of accusations of failed leadership.
While you can’t go into emergency mode every time there is a hint of foul weather, when the experts predict a good chance of catastrophic weather it is far better to be prepared than not and far better to be ready to swing into action once the magnitude of the damage is seen.
During and after the infamous Katrina several years ago in New Orleans when President George W. Bush was in office, all levels of government, local, state, and federal, fell down on the job, to put it mildly.
I could never figure out how people could be trapped but reporters could get in and out and how our military, to include our first line of homeland security and defense, the National Guard, could not have been rushed in with all its helicopters and amphibious equipment (some of it tied up in the Middle East).
Dr. Bill Wattenburg on KGO Radio, San Francisco, said Saturday night that at least the folks in New York and elsewhere in the path of the hurricane got a little lesson on disaster preparedness. He preaches that everyone should be prepared for disaster with food and supplies of water at their homes and even supplies to carry with them, lest they get stuck out on the road. His main concern is not weather but some type of nuclear device that is likely to be set off by terrorists. He always says that he and all the experts feel that it is not a question of if but just of when such a terrorist strike will happen. In such an event there would be such chaos and panic, with people likely fleeing coastal areas, where a strike is most probable, to the interior, but with nor real place to go, that authorities would not be in a position to help anyone, he warns.
But talking about weather disasters, he contrasted what happened in Katrina in New Orleans with extensive flooding in North Dakota. Up in the northland folks were able to get together and help themselves, rather than wait for Washington to rescue them (although I an sure federal resources helped too).
And I think that is the way it is in the more rural areas. People tend to be more self-reliant. Maybe that is why conservatism tends to be strong out in the hinterlands, with a more socialized, governmental approach popular in urban areas.
And then a lot of us are in between. We do the best we can, but in an emergency we need all the help we can get.
Am I personally ready for the big one? No way.
There is a danger that with all the hype that Irene got that it might be a little like the boy who called wolf. No one will listen next time.
But we all have to think about being prepared and being as self-reliant as possible.
And I applaud the president for showing leadership, but don’t expect him to get much credit for it.