Why Irene wasn’t a ‘letdown’

The talk all week has been about Irene.  Was it as bad as predicted?  Did it matter?  Newsworks asked our editorial cartoonist Rob Tornoe to weigh in on the issue.

Hurricane Irene has come and gone, and fortunately most Delaware residents were spared the full might and fury of what many newscasters predicted would be the “storm of the century.”

Sadly, this isn’t the case for much of the northeast, which suffers from widespread flooding and hundreds of thousands of residents still coping with power outages. In fact, from its landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane to its dissipation somewhere over Maine, Irene is responsible for at least 42 deaths and an estimated $13 billion in damages.

Which makes it even more galling when someone tells me they were “disappointed” by the storm.

Listen, I understand the sentiment. When it snows, and weather forecasters put on their favorite bow tie to giddily let us know about the 10 inches of snow we should be expecting, it can be a bit of a letdown when barely an inch ends of coating our driveway.

But the major difference is that extra nine inches of snow we “missed” wouldn’t have necessarily led to more property damage or the loss of life.

With Hurricane Irene, it’s as if some people are upset that the storm’s winds didn’t blow down MORE homes, that its rainfall didn’t flood MORE businesses, that Irene didn’t leave MORE property damage and carnage in her wake.

Tell that to the folks in northern New Jersey, where waters have reached a 100-year high and most towns have yet to see any real relief from flooding. Or to the residents of Vermont, where 13 towns have been cut off without running water or power since Sunday. What about the 50 or so homes in the Delaware beach town of Lewes that were damaged, and in some cases destroyed, by a tornado?

I think newscasters are in a no-win scenario when it comes to weather. If they predict the worst and by some level of measure we don’t feel the full brunt, then countless people are upset because of the inconvenience of forced evacuations, leftover supplies and kitchen drawers they can’t close because they’re now filled with unused packages of D batteries.

If, on the other hand, newscasters underreport the seriousness of a weather event, and we find ourselves with another Hurricane Katrina, then they are to blame for the potential loss of life their lack of foresight was able to protect.

It may be known as “weather porn,” but I’d rather be over-prepared and suffer from some level of inconvenience than find myself complaining to some heavenly body about not evacuating in time.

Besides, look on the bright side – now you have a month’s worth of tuna fish to enjoy. Follow him on Twitter @RobTornoe



Irene’s weekend visit, August 27th, will be memorable for some of the pictures she left around the first state.  We have some we’d like to share.  Some of you, including 12 year Sean McEvoy of Middletown, have sent us pictures.  We’d like to post any other you may have taken.

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