Panic or Preparedness?
Irene wreaked havoc on Virginia, but not Leesburg and Loudoun County. In the aftermath, do you feel our reactions were born of media-fueled panic, or a genuine desire to be prepared for the worst?
Irene came through Loudoun, and now we’re looking at relatively clear skies in Leesburg.
While the storm was potent enough in parts of Virginia for the governor to declare a state of emergency, and at least four deaths in the state have been attributed to the hurricane, we seem to have been spared.
Also, according to Mayor Kristen C. Umstattd, local authorities have the right to impose curfews throughout the state to keep residents from harm. Gov. Robert McDonnell noted in a post-hurricane assessment that 50 percent of deaths in previous hurricanes in the state came in their aftermath.
Though a tree came down last night, blocking part of Battlefield Parkway, the storm didn’t seem to stop many motorists from getting around just fine last evening, and doesn’t seem to have done much more than knock a few branches out of trees. Dominion Power reports few outages in Loudoun. Any bad thunderstorm could have done this.
Not to harp on the importance of hyperlocal news, but at least part of the frenzy about this storm can be laid at the feet of national news outlets. When someone says the “D.C. area” will be affected by a storm, they are talking about a huge chunk of land. The storm was never expected to hit this far west that hard. In this case the D.C. area was meant to include the immediate area of the city, not the western exurbs.
In an email sent to media outlets Friday, Umstattd said the storm was unlikely to have as big of an effect here as on eastern parts of the area. “At this point, Hurricane Irene looks unlikely to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane, and is tracking farther east than was predicated yesterday,” she wrote.
So, what do you think about the hype the storm got, which we reported left Wegmans and other stores bereft of bottled water Friday evening? I don’t see many preparing like this every time there is a severe thunderstorm warning. Do you even know about major thunderstorms days before they happen?
Is it a case of media-fueled panic, which began when national news began reporting Irene off the coast days ago, or truly a case of better safe than sorry?