I just have three things to say to the Monday morning critics of the preparation for Hurricane Irene.
- Hindsight is 20/20: We saw what happened when we underestimated the impact of Hurricane Katrina. It was impossible to mobilize the needed support after the fact. Leaders in the East coast cities and states along Irene’s path weren’t willing to risk waiting. Two cliches pop into my mind, “Hindsight is 20/20,” and “Better safe than sorry.” Cliched but never more relevant.
- Predicting the weather is only part science. How many times have we (in the Northeast) been surprised by a snow storm that wasn’t anticipated that turned highways into parking lots? Or, as we experienced with Hurricane Irene, by storms that were forecast as record-breaking that passed through with less damage than predicted. Not no damage…just less damage. Thankfully Hurricane Irene didn’t live up to expectations in New York and Boston, but that’s little comfort to the people whose loved ones lost their lives, or the coastal communities that were flooded, or the neighborhoods without power because of downed power lines, or the peoples’ homes destroyed by massive uprooted trees that were no longer able to stand tall in already saturated ground.
- In a time of epic natural disasters, we are reminded of the sheer power of Mother Nature. Grotesquely large hurricanes, earthquakes in our major cities, record-breaking tornadoes, and a year of unprecedented droughts and floods. Reminders that we are just mere mortals.
And I have only one thing to say to the leaders who took the risk of over-preparing for Hurricane Irene. Thank you. I hope you show the same conviction the next time when we will still have to rely on flawed science, history’s lessons and a healthy respect for Mother Nature.