Monday, August 29, 2011

A Few Reflections on Hurricane Irene

(1) Isn’t it interesting that with the hurricane threatening all up and down the Eastern Seaboard, what we kept hearing was that it was threatening New York? Kind of tells you where our media capital is. And who is really self-centered.

(2) FEMA has improved a lot since Katrina. And Obama is terrified of having another Katrina take place on his watch. (And his enemies are basically disappointed that it didn’t).

(3) Let’s be glad it wasn’t as bad as we feared.

(4) Even if it had been as bad as we feared, Irene would not have come even close to Katrina on the disaster scale.

(5) Yes, I agree with people who warn against crying wolf and warning that we are facing another Katrina when we aren’t.

(6) That being said, ramping up all these possible responses that ultimately were not needed was not a waste of time. It is better seen as preparation. The thing about Katrina-sized disasters is that (fortunately) they aren’t very common. This is good, but it contains a danger – the danger that when one of these mercifully rare disasters does come along, we will be woefully unprepared for it (see Katrina). Since we don’t want major disasters to happen often, but do want to be prepared when one finally does come along, the best way to do that is to test the machinery on lesser disasters. This time, the machinery worked very well – at least for this much lesser hurricane. How it would have worked on a Katrina-scale disaster is anyone’s guess. But dealing with the Irenes of the world is what will prepare us for the Katrinas.

PS: As for on Paul and his nostalgia for the hurricane that wiped out Galveston, I will make one comment at least partly in his defense. The difference between then and now was not just one of government, but of technology. There were no weather satellites in those days, so there was no way the people of Galveston could have known the hurricane was headed their way until too late. Nowadays, I suppose that even with no government intervention, if the people of Galveston had watched the news and seen the weather report warning of the coming hurricane, they would have known enough to flee the island without any government evacuation order. That being said, I really do think an orderly, government-directed evacuation and assistance in reconstructing is much to be preferred to general, unorganized flight. But let’s all be glad that we now have weather satellites that will give plenty of advance warning, government or no government.

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