Not Rocked Like A Hurricane

29 08 2011

Living In Extreme Apathy

We were ready.

Bottled water, check. Working flashlight, yup. Garden furniture stowed in safety of inflatable paddling pool, you bet.

We had tracked the storm, knew where it was going and were preparing for a blustery day. Concerned emails from friends and relatives had been answered, Facebook status had hinted that our internet would be down and that we may lose power but as Irene headed towards us, we were confident that our bare minimum would ensure our calm before the storm.

It rained quite hard for a bit (I know this because I was out in it shooting video footage), the wind howled and the trees bent. The roads started to fill with nature’s shrapnel and the sound of police sirens echoed through the almost deserted streets.

In our little house in Cohasset, Massachusetts – the pink “extreme” bit – we sat and watched Doctor Who while waiting for the power to go off.

Which it didn’t. Not Once.

The Internet flickered and the Xbox disconnected me from Netflix for ten minutes but that was about it. Our fridge stayed on, we cooked a nice supper and when it came time to turn out the lights, we did so when we wanted to and not because of Irene.

Which was actually a tad disappointing.

I was expecting a natural weapon of mass destruction, had been warned that power lines would be out and that travel would be impossible. That we needed to stock up food to get us through the next few days. Put it this way, I was still able to get Starbucks at 1 PM yesterday afternoon.

Which does not sound like a battle with Mother Nature, more a decision to not buy Dunkin.

The media had hyped Irene to a huge level. Correspondents were out on the coasts being buffeted by weather and making sure that we could all see their soaked rain jackets. It started as a hurricane, became a tropical storm and by the time I went to bed, it was quite windy.

I will admit that we seem to have been quite lucky where we live. There were reports of millions of people being without power, of severe flooding in Vermont, of several deaths as a result of Irene and of some sustained storm damage as she swept imperiously towards Canada.

But it was nowhere as bad as the media and the politicians had predicted it to be. I was expecting Armageddon and I got a minor skirmish with some trees falling down.

Irene has caused problems for people and I am sorry for anyone who has sustained damage to their property or even suffered a fatality in the family. But it was nowhere near the damage that was caused by Katrina or even the snowstorms in December that paralysed the East Coast. For that we should be grateful.

What is worrying is the enthusiasm with which some people seized upon this opportunity to become fear-mongers and to warn us of an impending peril that proved to be less about destruction and more about distraction.

Because lets face it, how many people on the East Coast over the weekend spent any time worrying about the financial state of the country, the unappealing Republican nominees or the troubles in the Middle East?

It is so much easier to get people to forget about distant problems when you can tell them that the real danger is closer to home. And that the best way to deal with it is to lock yourself away, cower in the darkness and make sure that you don’t venture out.

Irene was not A Mighty Wind but she managed to blow hard enough to scare us into listening to politicians. Even the ones who claimed that they were just being prudent in the face of an uncontrollable and unknown force.

Just another blustery day in the Land of the Free……….

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