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Hurricane Irma - The Aftermath
Before I say a single thing about this, let me say, thank goodness the storm did not hit with the monster intensity that they predicted. It was bad. But it could have been a lot worse. In fact, it was a lot worse for everyone south and east of Florida. I am truly sorry for the people that lost damn near everything. Let us just be thankful that there weren't more of those people.
That really WAS a big storm
As of my writing this, I have done no actual research. So I'm not completely aware of the death toll. Well, wait, I'm at a computer. Let's do a quick Google search. [♬ hold music ♪]
Looks like 7 in the US, 39 in the Carribean... Well, that's not a whole lot considering what the media made this thing out to be. And that brings me directly to my point... It seems the the greatest victims of the storm were the news media. Because for the foreseeable future, they will look pretty foolish for how they handled this.
And that's what this article is really all about.
For at least a week before the storm, the media was following it. Considering this came right on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, it seems like most of the news for a few weeks now has been about gigantic cyclones that are going to kill everyone in their path.
I'm used to the news cycles being taken up with whatever stupid thing our government is doing. All of that has been deflected away so we can track storms.
I'm not actually sure what stupid thing our government has done lately because it just hasn't been in the news.
The news media went absolutely bonkers in covering this storm. All of our favorite news personalities were down there. Right in the thick of the storm. Not weathermen, or meteorologists. Oh, no, this was too important! We needed Anderson Cooper, Brian Taft, David Muir, etc... I actually can't name them all. Mostly because being in the Northeast, I know only about Philadelphia and New York news people mostly. But from what I could see, every major news outlet from Fox to CNN to MSNBC had their top anchor down there.
This is the sort of thing that happens when news sources are competing for ratings. They stumble over each other to be the one to get the best footage, and the most compelling story. They want to get whoever their Anderson Cooper is, out there in the high winds. And if they're REALLY lucky, some catastrophe will occur right there in front of them! That is the whole game right there. Don Henley wrote that "Dirty Laundry" song, a metaphor for how everyone loves a tragedy. And it's so true. If you are the news station that catches a school being lifted up and thrown onto a shopping mall full of people, man, your ratings will go through the ROOF!!! (Pun intended).
Make no mistake, this storm was very dangerous
I am not trying to downplay the potential disaster that comes along with a storm reputed to be the single most powerful Atlantic basin storm since we started tracking them. In fact, there are some islands in the Caribbean that were completely decimated by this storm.
So I believe that it IS absolutely essential to warn the people of what is coming. Evacuate. Prepare for the worst. We should never assume that just because most storms don't end up being that bad, that it's perfectly safe to assume that THIS ONE won't be that bad.
At the risk of stating the obvious, weather is unpredictable. We try, of course. But the biosphere of this planet is so chaotic and complex, that they sometimes aren't sure what a big storm will do until it has started doing it. Clearly, it's smart to err on the side of caution.
But one thing I will fault the media for is making such a circus out of it.
Was it really necessary for Gio Benitez to tether himself to a balcony, to make a show of how dangerous the storm was?
Here I circle back to what I said about all the reporters that were there. This is a vicious cycle that occurs with our news. It really is all about ratings. And there is crazy, mad competition for any news outlet to be the one to report the most important thing. This is why all the top people were down there. Once one network sent their top person, every other network had to follow suit. To not do so runs the risk that another station will take all the glory!
To that end, one accusation I absolutely will make is where the storm was clearly calming down. But they didn't say that. When they knew it was down to a Category 2 storm, they reported that it was picking up strength. In other words - they lied. Why did they do this? Because once the storm lost power, everyone would switch off the news to watching their favorite football team, or men's final at the US Open (Nadal won, by the way).
This was like those local news people that purposely unzip their jacket just a bit, so that the wind sounds WAY worse on their mic while they are reporting outside. "The wind is really picking up out here! Just listen to that!" Only this was on a much larger stage.
The risk of crying wolf
If you were to judge by the attitude of the people living directly in the path of this thing, they essentially said, "Sheesh... You media people scared the bajezeesus out of us for nothing!"
And what I mean by that is that they sensationalized this thing so much that when it finally got there, there wasn't really a lot to be afraid of.
The obvious downside of this sort of behavior is that next time something like this happens, people are going to be less inclined to believe that there is any danger. The irony in this is that for all the fear they just instilled in people, they will not be afraid next time. And that's a big problem... Because next time actually might be that big ass, kill everyone you know, kind of storm. And people could potentially ignore the warnings.
And what about the people in Houston?
Why did the news cycle completely dry up on that? Wasn't that the most catastrophic flooding that area had ever seen? Weren't 100s of 1000s of people displaced and entire communities wiped out? You would think that happened 20 years ago considering how quickly it dropped out of the news.
So after all, the storm has passed
Both of the storms I've mentioned so far are currently drifting away and being reabsorbed into the chaotic system that we call an atmosphere.
Let me reiterate, I'm very sorry for those that have lost. I hope you are all able to put your lives back together sooner than later. I hope that the charitable organizations of the world step up their game to really help!
Scientists have been warning us for decades that, for various reasons too political to air in an article that is not intended to be in any way political, due to a few factors, we can expect stronger and stronger hurricanes forming in the Atlantic basin. Whether you believe humans have had any hand in that, you cannot deny that our hurricane seasons have gotten, and will continue to get, worse.
In case you were wondering...
Hurricane season is not over. Not by a longshot. See that little storm there off to the east of Irma?
That's Jose. At the time of my typing, it's a Category 4 and growing. No one knows where that will hit. At least one model says it will hit the US, maybe the northeast, where I live. And if it does hit the US, maybe you'll all be lucky enough to have the most famous American news reporters come to your neighborhood.