Monday, August 29, 2011

The Effects of Irene. Was Irene Hyped? Was God To Blame For The Earthquake & Irene?

Hurricane Irene couldn't keep New York's financial district down. Wall Street's best-known market was not only running, but trading up on Monday morning.
Some traders who normally take trains to work in lower Manhattan drove instead on Monday to be sure they got to their posts on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, a unit of NYSE Euronext. Some said they were without power, but they made it in anyone because markets don't stop.
"We are all here and everything is up and running," said Kenneth Polcari, a managing director with ICAP Equities, who lives in Mount Kisko, N.Y. "Life goes on."

Hurricane Irene Is Over; Power Still Out For Many

What’s left of Hurricane Irene — which technically no longer qualifies as a named storm — has now moved on to Eastern Canada. Residents of the eastern United States are waking up this morning to messes of various kinds.
While New York City was largely spared — though Staten Island and Queens were whacked fairly hard — surrounding states, especiallyConnecticut, and New Jersey, got a good thumping. As many as 700,000 people in Connecticut and 600,000 in New Jersey are without power in the wake Irene, and many will go without for as long as a week.
Power outages in others states, in no particular order: Vermont is reporting another 50,000 residents without power, and at one point or another, every single road in that state, except for Interstates 89 and 91, were closed from flooding.
Another 700,000 are without power in Massachusetts; 160,000 are without power New Hampshire; power is out for 171,000 in Maine; and power is out for 284,000 in Rhode Island.
Power outages were still being addressed this morning in MarylandVirginia and North Carolina; another 20,000 or so are without power in the District of ColumbiaDelaware has 39,000 without power, and a tornado touched down there; Pennsylvania, including the Phildelphia area, has about 400,000 without power. The total number of homes and businesses without power up and down the East Coast was in the neighborhood of six million.
An estimate of the cost of damage to insurers, conducted by Kinetic Analysis, a firm that predicts storm damage, is about $3 billion, down from an earlier estimate of $14 billion. The death toll so far is 25.

States begin the process of getting back to normal after Irene

Stripped of hurricane rank, Irene spent the last of its fury Sunday, leaving treacherous flooding and millions without power -- but an unfazed New York and relief that it was nothing like the nightmare authorities feared.

Quechee Covered Bridge in Lebanon, N.H.
Emergency crews keep people at a safe distance from the Quechee Covered Bridge in Lebanon, N.H., as it flooded with water from the Ottauquechee River Sunday. A weakened but dangerous Tropical Storm Irene dumped up to half a foot of rain in places, flooded roads, knocked down trees and left more than 165,000 New Hampshire homes and businesses on the dark before blowing out of the state. (Polina Yamshchikov / AP Photo / August 28, 2011)
The storm that had been Hurricane Irene crossed into Canada overnight but wasn't yet through with the U.S., where flood waters threatened Vermont towns and big city commuters had to make do with slowly reawakening transit systems.

The storm left millions without power across much of the Eastern Seaboard, killed at least two dozen and forced airlines to cancel about 9,000 flights. It never became the big-city nightmare forecasters and public officials had warned about, but it caused the worst flooding in a century in Vermont.

Many of the worst effects arose from rains that fell inland, not the highly anticipated storm surge along the coasts. Residents of Pennsylvania and New Jersey nervously watched waters rise as hours' worth of rain funneled into rivers and creeks. Normally narrow ribbons of water turned into raging torrents in Vermont and upstate New York late Sunday, tumbling with tree limbs, cars and parts of bridges.

"This is not over," President Barack Obama said from the Rose Garden.,0,1894943.story

Hurricane Irene and the Routine of Emergency Response

Posted: 8/29/11 08:56 AM ET
As Hurricane Irene made its way up the east coast of the United States, we saw an impressive set of emergency measures taken by local, state and federal agencies. Increasingly sophisticated emergency response has become a fundamental and expected function of government in the developed world. We see this in the United States and we need to see enhanced capacity on a worldwide basis. There are three reasons for the need for more routinized and sophisticated emergency capacity. The first is that there are more people on the planet and here in the United States. We are approaching 7 billion people worldwide, and some projections call for world population to peak at 10 billion by the end of the century. The number of people in the pathway of exposure to danger grows daily. The second reason is that for the first time in world history most of the world's population lives in cities. Urban people depend on others to provide the basics of life: food, water and shelter. Some of the systems that deliver these necessities are fragile, and when disasters hit, it is difficult to avoid their impact. The third reason is that people like me love the ocean and have the means to live nearby.
In fact, while waiting out Irene in my apartment in New York City's Morningside Heights, my thoughts, fears and hopes centered on a narrow sand bar on the south shore of Long Island, where I have spent summers for nearly a quarter century. It's a place called Long Beach, New York. Long Beach has been a popular resort since early in the 20th century, and has survived many storms. Although I am not an environmental scientist, I work with them every day at Columbia University's Earth Institute. They have made me aware of the risks of owning property near the ocean, but it is a risk I knowingly take.

How a hurricane becomes a political opportunity

Tropical Storm Irene New York City is Still Standing 8-28-11
For the vast majority of Americans who could give a seagull's tail feather about Tropical Storm/Hurricane Irene, good luck trying to find something else interesting on television over the weekend.
The storm story had everything America's East Coast-centric media loves, especially on a slow-news August weekend: UnpredictaNew Jersey Gov Chris Christie and Lt Gov Kim Guadagno talk with storm evacuees Irenebility, the possibility of death and destruction and an East Coast location.
Which makes it by definition important.
Like it or not, Americans living thousands of miles away were going to see network reporters leaning into driving winds and rains like people who didn't know enough to come in out of the rain. CNN International even went full time with the U.S. East Coast storm although it had a ready-made Asian typhoon blasting through the Philippines and Taiwan too.

Local Red Cross accepting donations for Hurricane Irene relief efforts

Published: Monday, August 29, 2011, 10:30 AM
BAY CITY — As people up and down the East Coast return home after fleeing Hurricane Irene, the Great Lakes Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross is mustering its troops for a massive relief effort. 

The Red Cross reported that more than 27,000 people spent Saturday night in shelters as the storm came ashore from North Carolina to New England. Thousands of Red Cross disaster workers have been dispatched to the area, along with more than 200 emergency response vehicles and tens of thousands of prepackaged meals. 

Ken Vavra, interim executive director at the Great Lakes Bay Chapter of the Red Cross, said that they are accepting donations intended to help with the relief effort. 

"We are definitely prepared to help," he said. "We will make sure any donations intended for the relief effort get there."

Money isn't the only donation that Red Cross officials are hoping for. The storm also forced Red Cross to cancel more than 50 blood drives that were scheduled along the East Coast, resulting in a shortage of nearly 1,400 units of blood at a time when blood supplies are vital.

To find a blood drive or for more information on how to donate, call the Great Lakes Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross at 989-892-1541.

Hurricane Irene: Was Media Coverage Overhyped? (VIDEO, POLL)

Hurricane Irene Media
The Huffington Post      First Posted: 8/29/11 08:48 AM ET Updated: 8/29/11 09:37 AM ET

With Hurricane Irene in the rearview mirror, the media is playing its favorite game: examining its own coverage.
Seemingly the entire press gave the weekend over to Irene. On television, there was no escaping the coverage, as networks pulled in their top talent and blanketed the East Coast with correspondents.
But Irene was weaker than expected in many places along the East Coast — especially in New York City, where so much of the national media is located. As the predicted dire effects of the storm failed to materialize, many critics and reporters quickly pounced, saying that the media (and cable news in particular) had overhyped Irene and caused millions needless fear.
The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz led the way on Sunday with a harshly critical column about cable news coverage.
"Cable news was utterly swept away by the notion that Irene would turn out to be Armageddon," he wrote. "...The tsunami of hype on this story was relentless, a Category 5 performance that was driven in large measure by ratings."
The Daily Telegraph's US correspondent Toby Harnden echoed that sentiment, writing that some of the coverage of Irene was "beyond parody."
This argument was quickly praised by many media watchers. It also received substantial pushback, especially from the cable news reporters who found themselves targets of criticism.
"Not overblown to the families of the people who died, or those who suffered damage in the billions," CNN's Soledad O'Brien tweeted to Kurtz on Sunday.
On Fox News, Shepard Smith read out a comment calling the storm a "tempest in a teacup."
"It's not, sir," he frostily responded. Later, Smith tweeted, "Even though it was a weaker storm remember all of those who will be affected by the flooding.
Some outside media watchers also scoffed at the argument. "The more stories I hear, the more flood images I see, the more I think people saying this was nothing are out to lunch," Reuters' Anthony DeRosa tweeted.
On Monday, the "Today" show devoted a long segment to the question. Not surprisingly, the panel the show assembled defended the coverage from the weekend. Al Roker responded to criticism that over-zealous coverage could breed complacency in people, since they might take more serious future warnings with a grain of salt.

Michele Bachmann Blames God for the Earthquake, Hurricane Irene

Michele Bachmann would stop hurricanes by appointing God as her budget chief.
Michele Bachmann would stop hurricanes by appointing God as her budget chief.Photo: Richard Ellis/Getty Images

Every time a natural disaster strikes, televangelist clown Pat Robertson is there to remind us that God is angry and the End Times are nigh. The recent earthquake and hurricane were no exception:
“It seems to me the Washington Monument is a symbol of America’s power. It has been the symbol of our great nation. We look at the symbol and we say ‘this is one nation under God.’ Now there’s a crack in it … Is that a sign from the Lord? … You judge. It seems to me symbolic,” Robertson said.
He cited Matthew’s Gospel, which mentions an “upheaval in the earth” as a sign of the End of Days. The earthquake is just a “birth pang” of the world to come, Robertson explained ...
Robertson prayed to God to send Hurricane Irene out to sea at the end of his Thursday broadcast. But if it hits us, it’s probably just another one of those “birth pangs.”
Of course, most people don't take Robertson seriously. Hurricanes and earthquakes have occurred regularly all over the world since before humankind existed. There was a time when they seemed to be the product of God's wrath, but geology and meteorology long ago provided much more plausible explanations. Nevertheless, there are still a few wacky cranks like Robertson to say things like this:
"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."
Whoops! That wasn't Pat Robertson ridiculously claiming that God created a (very minor) earthquake and a (relatively unexceptional) hurricane because he was upset about the government's finances. It was Michele Bachmann. She's running for president.

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