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Irene wasn’t overhyped in train- and drive-through country

Irene wasn’t overhyped in train- and drive-through country

The after-Irene hype is that Irene was overhyped.

Yes, maybe in the big cities Irene was no biggie.  It’s easy for a Philly Inquirer columnist to refer to Irene as a “Category Feh” hurricane.

But in those areas of the northeast which city dwellers normally only train or drive through, it was a disaster.

As of this writing, over 250,000 people in my home State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations still are without power.  You remember Rhode Island, the place you will miss if you blink on the road to Boston and Cape Cod.

Vermont is suffering historic flooding (other than the loss of the covered bridges, do you care?), as is upstate New York (where the hicks and state workers live).

The part of Connecticut beyond Greenwich (yes, there is such a part of Connecticut) was hit hard.  Western Massachusetts (you know, the part where the Berkshires seemed dream like on account of the frosting) is a mess.

So don’t tell me Irene was the perfect storm of hype.  The post-hype anti-hype is way overhyped.

Update:  The death toll from Irene is up to 25 people as of this afternoon.


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I drove up from Charlotte to Allentown, PA on Sunday night, and I can say that it was no picnic out there. Those flashes in the sky weren’t lightning, but rather exploding electrical transformers, most especially when they produced a green flash.

Perhaps the answer to the overhyped charge is that NYC is, in fact, a large “block hole” that sucks in everything, including hurricanes.

I’d care about this a lot more if people in the affected areas cared about us out in flyover country more than they do professor.

Do you want to know how long I went without power when Ike ran over my house 3 years ago? Do you want to know how many people lost their homes, how long people still had FEMA plastic on their roofs?

How long we went without dairy in our grocery stores? How hard it was to get gasoline and how the price shot up? How long the insurance companies took to pay homeowners?

No, of course not. Our natural disasters get covered between stories about Brittany and the latest diet fad if they get covered at all. Nobody in the media centers of this country care when those of us out here in flyover country get slammed by an actual real-life hurricane unlike the little rain storm you guys had in the northeast.

So it’s a bit hard to get too worked up over a few hundred thousand folks going without power a few hours. Sorry.

Cry me a river.

    Awing1 in reply to DaveW. | August 29, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Actually it’s 5.1 million still without power, days after the event. And considering the majority of them are not in large cities, how is it that people in, say, Warwick, NY are not themselves in flyover country? Granted it’s about an hour and a half from NYC, but the vast majority of the land is farmland. My girlfriend is there at a friends house, trapped on a hill surrounded by water. They’ll probably be fine because the friend has a backhoe and they’re building an earthen bridge to cross, but not everyone in the area is so lucky. Most don’t live at the top of the hills.

    You might want to cover up, your ignorance is showing.

Sorry, Professor, but those of us who weathered Ike understand what it is like to be without power, for weeks, not just days.

Yeah, its sad that Vermont lost historic covered bridges, just as it is sad that Galveston Island lost ALL of its historic buildings except for Big Red during Ike.

But unlike Easterners who claimed “Texas had it coming” after Ike, we Texans will pray for all those who lost their homes, and family members, due to Irene.

TheLastBrainLeft | August 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm

The rail systems feeding NYC suffered massive damage and may not be up and running fully for many days.

Remember all the media coverage of the Nashville floods in 2010? How about the Wallow fire or the Las Conchas Fire? Or 30K people in New Mexico losing natural gas for a week as temperatures dropped down to -36 degrees because the delivery system failed due to extreme weather in Texas?

Please excuse us if we roll our eyes just a little about the hype when the eastern seaboard doesn’t give a rip what happens to the rest of us the other 300 days of the year.

Midwest Rhino (not RINO) | August 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm

The “worst hurricane for the east coast in 100 years” part was hype, as were forecasts that it would strengthen to a three or four, when it came in at one or less. I had higher winds twice this summer, losing “historic” trees, and was without power for five days in central Illinois. News channels barely noticed. No round the clock coverage.

It was the five to eight inches rain on saturated ground that was most significant. Of course had Obama not gotten involved, it would have been a Cat Five. He saved or created thousands.

Hurricane: overblown.

Risks from massive amounts of rain after a soggy summer and spring: predictably ignored.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the hurricane hype resulted in damage going unaverted in the less TV worthy areas.

bob aka either orr | August 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Having just spent the morning replacing a large section of siding on the house and repairing several other items damaged by the storm, I’m a little tired right now. We also just got power back in our neighborhood after about 41 hours without. I’m thankful that it wasn’t worse. And, of course, our neighborhood (about 45 miles northwest of Philly) got absolute zero coverage. We’re not in PECO territory, so we never heard anything about our electric service from the wall-to-wall coverage.
Not complaining at all, mind you; I saw worse damage in my travels Sunday coming home from work.
I’m just hoping that the Agnes affect doesn’t kick in in northern New England. That would be the real disaster of Irene (even though our beloved Hatteras Island is not cut off from the rest of the world after Highway 12 got washed out, leaving all the villages at the mercy of the Ocracoke ferry).

bob aka either orr | August 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Typo alert: should read “now cut off”

I imagine the survivors in Tuscaloosa, AL and Joplin, MO, are all fixed up and fine now (not) … except for the 160+ dead … are duly impressed by the devastation in New england and New York.

Fortunately, after being forecast for three days running to pass over my town with 70-85 mph, Irene swerved. My condolences to people who lost their homes or experienced other damage.

To assess the storm’s impact, one should compare Irene to previous hurricanes in the areas it struck.

Best to everyone dealing with this inconvenience. Here in South Florida, many of us wouldn’t even bother with the hurricane shutters for a Cat 1, but humbly realize we’d have a disaster on our hands if a snow storm hit us. Nevertheless, the media does always hyperventilate over these. Unlike fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, they can be seen coming for days. It’s a rare grand opportunity for the weather reporters to be stars. It’s very exciting for them. Just saying…

Yeah, this one is kinda silly. Of course this storm was over-hyped when you compare it to the coverage other far worse natural disaters get when they happen in flyover country. “Train” country got more than its fair share of coverage from the MSM, to say otherwise is ludicrous. But when the National Weather Service issued a PDS (particularly dangerous situation) in the days preceeding the April and May tornado outbreaks, where was the wall to wall coverage then? The death toll there wasn’t 28. The April 24th outbreak and the Joplin storm together killed over 500.

BannedbytheGuardian | August 29, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Civilization … is a total construct . We simply forget the force of the elements. We have houses roads cars bridges ….
where the weather can be overcome mostly.

In 2010 when i hiked The Appalchian Trail I hit good mostly hikeable weather. However conditions dictated my progress . People have lost touch with the realities of the planet.

I don’t consider weather is ever extreme – we are the ones that have thought we could just over ride it with our inventiveness of yore & now just plain smugness.

BannedbytheGuardian | August 29, 2011 at 8:54 pm

BTW The Trail traverses most of the areas Prof & others have mentioned from W PA Nj Ny Conn Berkshires West MA Vermont NH Maine.

Don’t drive through -HIKE IT!

Those of us in “fly-over” country know what real floods are all about. The Mississippi watershed floods of 1993 and 2011 can best be depicted with …pictures. Cry me a river, New England!

Ultimately, Hurricane Irene (from the perspective of NYC) is the perfect metaphor for Barack Obama … lots of hype, followed by failure to perform, laying waste to everybody else on the way there.

Grew up in upstate NY. Friends back there report extensive water damage to farms. Very sad. As long as the cities are safe, who cares about the farms that feed those cities?

[…] on fire in the middle of an area that is flooded, weirdly enough.  William Jacobson has a lot of links discussing the damage—apparently Rhode Island got hit very hard as has Vermont.  My guess is […]

The real deal here is that the only thing that matters to the reporters are the East and West coast mega-cities. New York, DC, and LA are the only thing that reporters seem to know exist, and if it doesn’t impact them, it doesn’t matter.

Since Irene didn’t wash NYC away in a recreation of Katrina and New Orleans, the reporters don’t care about it any more.