Monday Morning Quarterback in the Wake of the Storm

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Deb Brown.

This blog is, in some ways, a follow-up to Repman Steve Cody’s blog from August 25th.  In that    blog, Steve talked about how the media really hyped the earthquake we felt here in NYC.  Although the quake’s epicenter was in Virginia, you would have thought it had to be in midtown Manhattan by the way the media were reporting.Slide1

Now fast-forward to the news yesterday morning, in which the debate discussed was “Did the experts and media over-hype Irene?”  This blog from Washington Post blogger Jason Samenow captures both sides of the story.  

Some will argue that the news media truly over-hyped the approaching storm, especially here in the NYC area whereas others along the East Coast will disagree.  I believe a lot of the sentiment depends on where you’re standing (hopefully on dry ground).  My husband and I were evacuated during the storm since we live on the East River.  Manhattan pretty much got by without a scratch.  New York Harbor overflowed a bit, but otherwise windows stayed intact, electricity and cable stayed on, and for the most part, we were all fine.  But, it could have been much worse.  And, one point that was mentioned on the Today Show Monday morning was that while it’s easier today for meteorologists to accurately predict the path of a storm, the intensity is not always as accurate. 

Were my husband and I inconvenienced?  Of course.  Am I complaining?  No.  I’d much rather have the experts and elected officials tell us to get out of the path and find out it wasn’t as bad than to have the opposite happen.  I think much of the hype, so to speak, was because they were trying to tell us how deadly a Category 1 or even a Tropical Storm could be.  By the time Irene reached Connecticut and Vermont, it was a Tropical Storm.  Yet, by Monday morning, half the state of Connecticut was without power and Vermont suffered some significant damage. 
Jason Samenow has a poll on his blog and the majority, to date, believes the storm was hyped.  It wasn’t that long ago when we, as a country, condemned the city of New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and the Federal government, including “Brownie,” for not doing a good enough job getting people out of the way in time. 

I think we’ve learned our lesson.  And, I would much rather have our local officials err on the side of caution.  The media had a different role to play in this scenario versus the earthquake.  The earthquake hit and was barely felt in most parts of the City.  Yet, they definitely hyped it after it happened.  No one knows how Mother Nature will ultimately react.  And, the media, in conjunction with our elected officials, did the right thing in warning of the approaching storm’s potential fury and trying to scare people enough so they would move.  The problem with the media’s image is that if something minor is talked about in the same breath as something major, people become skeptical and think of the boy who cried wolf.

I think New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said it best and was the most direct when he saw that people were still on the beach in Asbury Park Friday afternoon:  “Get the hell off the beaches.”

4 thoughts on “Monday Morning Quarterback in the Wake of the Storm

  1. Hi Julie: I do agree that, at times, the media exaggerate certain things, such as the impact (or lack thereof) of the recent earthquake that was felt here in NYC. I’m not talking about it being exaggerated in DC or Virginia since it did do some damage; I’m just commenting on how the media acted here in NYC. However, I don’t think the hurricane was an exaggeration at all. We were very lucky here in Manhattan. Areas of Staten Island were under water, parts of the City had no power, and many places in the tri-state area and beyond were completely flooded and devastated.

  2. Hello PEngelinNYC: I agree that the media, at times, do get blood thirsty. But, the politicians and the media did the right thing in pushing people to move out of the hurricane’s path. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes hitting people over the head several times to get them to pay attention. And, even with stressing the sense of urgency and underscoring the danger of the storm, some of the 42 people who sadly died put themselves in harm’s way. And, yes, Christie certainly has some memorable one-liners!

  3. I find that the media (especially the NY newspapers) exaggerate everything — since the last 2 weeks of Aug. are traditionally slow news cycles.
    And, they frequently print facts and figures without checking with sources. But, one thing is for sure — they never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

  4. I can’t fault the media for giving out information. In that respect, they did their job. But they did go over the top in one way, and I know RepMan agrees with me: they’re just plain bloodthirsty. You could tell from the tone of their reporting how upset some reporters and anchors were that the NY Metro area was spared from Armageddon.
    My wife and I worked in an evacuation center Saturday. Most of the people live in NYC housing projects (which shut down power and services), the homeless, and “Zone A” inhabitants who were forced out for two days. Was Irene wasn’t over-hyped to them? I don’t think so. Nor was it over-hyped to my friend in Long Beach who can breathe somewhat that the sandbags he put down only gave him a flooded basement while 12 houses nearby were practically destroyed. Nor was it over-hyped to the people of upstate towns in Delaware County like Andes and Margaretville, which are under water, or the farms in Vermont whose crops and livelihood were destroyed.
    As for the politicians, I’m not much for Christie’s politics, but I like his blustery but no B.S. approach. Telling those Snooki & Situation types that they’re tan enough already is classic. NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg redeemed himself somewhat from last winter’s blizzard debacle. Less noticeable was Andrew Cuomo’s more understated approach; he was certainly out there, but chose to let the local politicos hog the cameras.