Why Are People So Mad About Hurricane Irene?

hurricane irene nasa

Hurricane Irene of 2011 hit the Caribbean, the East Coast of the United States and Canada with extensive flooding, high wind damage and heavy rain. On August 20th Irene began to form and by the time she dissipated on August 29th the death toll in the US rose to 40 across 7 states. So why are people so mad?

It seems the anger stems from the “overhyped” media coverage of the storm and supposed exaggerated reportage of the storm’s potential danger. Here’s a few points I want to address about some folks being mad.

“I didn’t get to use my flashlight.”
Some where angry they bought disaster supplies they didn’t get to use. I can’t take that anger seriously though because I know it’s nothing compared to losing a loved one, your home or your life in a hurricane.

“I didn’t get to die!”
The idea that Hurricane Irene was a disappointment because she didn’t kill you is as ridiculous as supposed media overhype. About 40 died in the US alone as a result of this 1 storm. Irene “was the 8th most economically destructive in 30 years and the 4th deadliest.”

flooding in Newark NJ irene
Photo Credit: Behnam Esfahbod, Flooding in Newark, NJ

“I still have a home!”
The photo above via NASA shows Earth from aboard the International Space Station where astronaut Ron Garan snapped this image of Hurricane Irene as it passed over the Caribbean on Aug. 22, 2011.

Irene battered the low-lying Bahamas, took the power out in the Bahamian capital, Nassau, killed a few persons in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and racked up losses between $500 million and $1.1 billion. 60 percent of that loss is in the Bahamas. Oh yeah, and reportedly there won’t be insurance payouts for the Caribbean either. If your home is in tact why isn’t that something to be happy about?

“Media coverage was mostly focused on New York!”
New York City is a financial and media capitol, why wouldn’t it be covered more by the media? The media likes to cover itself and their bosses. As I wrote above, media coverage was very United States focused actually. Perhaps you didn’t factor the Bahamian people into your damage assessments of this weekend’s storm?

The media coverage I saw on the network news overlooked much of the destruction in places like Vermont and some communities in New York which are still flooded.

“The media was ‘scaremongering’!”
This seems to be an admission that you were scared, which is not only ok, but appropriate when a killer storm is headed your way. How differently could things have turned out if Hurricane Katrina was “overhyped”? How can you be surprised the that 24-hour news shows tried to fill 24 hours with news when this is what they’ve been doing since their inception? Seriously, we’ve been scaremongered into worse than buying batteries. Which brings me to another point…

sold out batteries madam toussaint
Photo Credit: Madam Toussaint

“I had to buy batteries!”
If you’re upset about having to buy batteries and preparedness supplies are you as upset about paying for any kind of insurance? Here’s another question: Why didn’t you have batteries already? I’m guilty of this too and when I saw all the D batteries for flashlights and flashlights in town were sold out I regretted not being more prepared…and yet I had all week to buy them…or all year.

“I had to spend time with my family!”
Maybe if you did this more you would have a family you liked more instead of a bunch of strangers you got stuck in a basement with. In an emergency what you have aren’t just your supplies but your friends, family and neighbors. Nurture that network before an emergency…if only for safety reasons!

“I had to get prepared for the worst!”
You should be prepared anyway and if you were spared in this storm or not even in the line of it it’s not a bad thing to take the opportunity to get prepared. Anyway, when I went shopping I saw people buying soda and barbecue sauce, but not trail mix or first aid kits, so some of you bought stuff you wanted to consume anyway. Don’t blame the media cause you bought emergency Pepsi.

hurricane katrina six years

“This was all about politicians posturing!”
What politician wants to be responsible for another Hurricane Katrina so close to that disaster’s anniversary and September 11th when we should have learned lessons then? It is better for them and for you to err on the side of caution.

“Is this about climate change?”
If there are people who are more willing to discuss climate change now I’m not willing to take this as an opportunity to say that’s a good thing because I don’t think there’s time to dwell on that now. There will be more killer storms with all the categories you want in the future, not to mention droughts, floods, heatwaves and earthquakes that we need to be aware of, anticipate, and be prepared for. There will also be proposals for natural gas as well as tar sands pipelines we need to be vigilant about.

This type of anger stems from privilege and the fact is if you live in a building you’re better equipped to weather a storm than if you live in a tent city with no sanitation so how about some gratitude that you were spared? If you’re so angry about media coverage how about some activism to change that instead complaining, then going back to watch the same programs?

None of these extreme weather events are surprises folks, we know they can happen and we’re running out of excuses for not being aware and prepared.

So you can’t say you didn’t know: Hurricane season in the Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific ends November 30th.

Src: good.is

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