Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meteorology vs. melodrama

While waiting for the younger spawn to emerge from school on the first day of classes yesterday, I heard Rush Limbaugh nonsensically connect the dots -- from the perceived "hype" over Hurricane Irene to the media's allegiance to the Obama "regime."

It was like listening to a drunken college freshman use what he'd learned in Psych 101 to explain nuclear physics.

Moving on, he noted that Colin Powell said on Sunday that he hasn't yet decided who he'll vote for in 2012. Limbaugh then predicted that Powell again would vote for Pres. Obama because,
"Melanin is thicker than water."
The man knows his Dittoheads, I'll give him that. "Don't doubt me!" he bellows. "The fix is in!"

And indeed it is -- just don't tell Limbaugh's simple-minded poodles.

Getting back to Irene -- I'm no meteorologist, but I'm smart enough to recognize that forecasting weather, especially tropical systems, is an inexact science. Irene, like most hurricanes, bobbed and wiggled. It threatened to follow a path that could take an unprecedented toll in lives, livelihoods, property and infrastructure.

The worst didn't happen. Perfect hindsight, however, doesn't warrant indicting the press, forecasters or public officials for warning citizens of the scientifically reasonable chance that it could happen.

Yes, the media did inject unnecessary drama into the whole affair, but that's not unusual. They do it every day. It doesn't move me.

I do have a problem, though, with characterizing some as "ignoring" or "defying" official evacuation orders. Not the true idiots, people who went swimming in the surf as Hurricane Irene made landfall -- I'm talking about prepared, independent citizens who gauged the risks and responsibly chose to shelter-in-place.

Truth be told, the vast majority of folks who stayed put were guided by sentiment or ego, not by critical thought or common sense. The unprepared now complain that they're still stranded or that their power still hasn't been restored. And yes, even they deserve the right to ride out a big storm in their own homes.

Personally (and within reason) I would've done whatever it took to avoid becoming a refugee in my own land. That choice is neither ignorant nor defiant -- it's independent.

I spent 20-plus years of my life in southern New England. Often I ventured north into Vermont, New Hampshire and the Adirondacks of New York -- for the scenery, sure, but also because I was drawn to the region's independent spirit.

The remnants of Hurricane Irene unleashed catastrophic flooding on the area. Bridges I've crossed -- swept away. Streets I walked, the riverside restaurant where I savored morning coffee -- devastated. A friend's house perched on the bank of the Mad River, the place where I celebrated Independence Day a dozen years ago -- gone.

My heart aches for these Americans, and yet I have no doubt that they'll rebound and rebuild like the People they are.

Up there, see, especially in rural communities and small villages, independence wins out over drama -- every time.