On Hype

The story this morning amongst a lot of the news outlets this morning are questioning whether or not Hurricane Irene was overhyped or not: much was made of the dangers of the storm, prompting massive evacuations from all along the eastern seaboard. The storm did dissapate quite a bit as it moved up the coast, downgrading to a tropical storm by the time that it reached New England, but where the storm lost wind, it made up for it in rainfall.

Earlier this spring, Vermont experienced some horrific floods following a wet spring: entire towns found themselves under water. Once again, flooding returned to Vermont, in what people are comparing to the epic floods of 1927, which killed numerous people and destroyed countless bridges. Driving around Vermont, look at the years in which they were build: many were built in 1927 or 1928: replacements.

This storm wasn’t overhyped, nor should we think that there’s any greater danger in overhyping a storm of this type.

The pictures from around the state are scary: my hometown of Moretown is under feet of water from the Mad River, Brattleboro is covered, and with houses and bridges swept away by the floods. People and resources were prepared, and a single person was swept away last night, with around twenty fatalities all told. Considering the population density of the Eastern seaboard, that’s a remarkable figure: had there been no evacuations or preparation, that number would surely rise.

It’s easy to prepare for the worst: it’s much harder if you’re caught unawares. Overhyped? Not for Vermont: we’ll be cleaning out and rebuilding out for weeks, if not months.

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7 thoughts on “On Hype

  1. I think hype is a matter of context for a storm like this. If you are in New York City and were expecting a flood of the century, you might be sipping your Starbuck’s Coffee Monday morning thinking that the storm wasn’t a big deal. If you’re in a town in Vermont that is underwater or you are stranded because your roads are torn up and bridges wrecked, then the storm was not overhyped at all. Context is essential.

    • I don’t think so: yes, Vermont was hit hard, and a lot of us were really laughing it off, because honestly, these sorts of things are never *that* strong by the time they get up here, but because of the hype and evacuations, how many people were saved because they were largely out of harms way? Probably more than a couple.

  2. I am with Nathan on this one. One guy from New York complained that Bloomberg scared him into buying 200$ worth of emergency supplies. In some areas, scaring people saved lives, in others it wasted money and time. On the whole, it is obviously better being safe than sorry but in some cases being safe is not necessary either. I happily played outside yesterday in 40 MPH wind and pretty good rain and it was great fun. If I was at camp, I would have gone windsurfing and it would have been epic.

      • With all due respect, but that’s why we see idiots getting swept off in tidal currents or drowning when they could have been elsewhere. After watching the local river, – the speed that the water was moving at was incredible -pictures and video come up and seeing what could possibly happen if caught in the wrong place, I’d rather err on the safe than sorry side.

        Now, there’s a different in hype and the meteorologists filling vast amounts of empty time on network television.

  3. First, please never start a sentence with “with all due respect”. It essentially means the opposite whenever anyone says it:P. Whenever I get an e-mail that starts with that I know I am in for it.

    Second, you misunderstand me. I agree that you should err on the side of caution. But it can and is often taken too far, if everyone always erred on the side of caution, there would be no progress. There have been a couple cases of serious overhype that actually cost more lives (or at least billions of dollars) than it saved in recent years, like avian flu, H1N1 (pork flu), body scanners at airports, taking off shoes at airports, the whole terrorist threat color system (anyone notice they stopped using that?) and I could go on for a while.

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