Hurricane Irene has come and gone. The storm hit the Carolinas, then weakened by the time it moved north to New Jersey and New York. Still, it likely produced billions of dollars in damage, due to flooding and high winds, left millions of people without power, and is being blamed for more than a dozen deaths.
With cities along the East Coast still wet from Irene’s rain and storm surge, the post mortems have begun. The main topic for debate seems to be whether politicians like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie overreacted when they ordered evacuations, closed roads and transit systems, and issued blunt warnings about the potential harm to people who tried to ride out the storm.
Because the storm was not as devastating as some feared it might be, it’s easy to second-guess the decision-makers. In my view, however, it’s better to err on the side of caution under such circumstances. No major hurricane had targeted New York and New Jersey for decades. Storms are, by definition, unpredictable. And no one wanted to see a repeat of those memorable post-Katrina images of people huddled on rooftops or wading through hip-deep water. I think the mayors and government along the east coast made the right decisions.
Can’t we just be happy that we avoided the catastrophic consequences that would have occurred if a major hurricane had hit our east coast population centers head on and at full force?