A wicked wind

January 25, 2010 1:20:01 PM PST
I've little experience in monsoons, but it felt like one at a few points today.

In fact, with my 6-month-old daughter's stroller in one hand, and my favorite and most expensive steel-shank rainbow golf-size umbrella in the other, I was walking on Broadway to our weekly music class. Suddenly, a huge blast of wind - I suspect Lee Goldberg would say the meteorological term is gust, but at the time it felt like a blast - takes my umbrella and lifts it up. I had to struggle to hold onto it.

It also forces me to impose an iron-grip on my daughter's stroller. Then a few feet away, in the crosswalk, an elderly man's umbrella turns inside out, and I swear I think I see him lifted up ever-so-slightly.

Next thing I know, the guy's on the ground - his feet just come out from underneath him. I had three choices - hang on to my expensive umbrella, grab my daughter's stroller (with her inside), or go help the elderly man.

I was going to joke that I decided to save my umbrella, but every time I wrote that line it just didn't smell right. So I won't joke about that.

It was a tough dilemma - because I felt so helpless with this old man lying on the street. But there was no way I'm leaving my child in her stroller with this wind swirling. So I yell to a group of teenagers who were just ahead: "Help!"

Good kids - they turned around and saw me pointing at the man in the intersection, on his back. They all rushed to him and picked him up. He was ok, although I assume his ego was a bit wounded.

The winds were strong everywhere today, but in Manhattan, the high-rise buildings create a canyon effect, and it really is like walking into a wind tunnel when it gets bad. Every block seemed to be home to a broken umbrella or two.

Lee is assessing the damage from this huge wind and rain storm that came through the area. He'll have his AccuWeather forecast, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, the political problems of Pres. Obama, not waiting to play themselves out in the fall elections. Instead, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, running into some opposition as he gets set for confirmation hearings for another term.

It was something of a surprise to many Obama backers that he kept Bernanke, and that he appointed Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary; both men had played roles in the strategies of financial institutions to make risky investments - strategies that helped lead to their near-collapse a year ago.

They still exist today only because of a huge taxpayer bailout - a bailout that helped put job creation on the back burner. So while Wall Street and the banks have been re-born, the average guy and gal are still struggling. There's been no bailout for the rest of us, and that's why Mr. Obama is now desperately re-assessing his agenda.

He's now re-tooling his staff, giving more say to the peeps who organized his Presidential campaign and perhaps taking some power away from the long-time Washington power brokers he hired as his White House staff. We'll see if it makes any difference.

Meanwhile, anger with the President is manifesting itself in the Bernanke re-appointment. Conservatives are coming out against him, as are liberals. MoveOn.Org - a liberal group - offered this today in an email to its members: "Bernanke presided over the biggest Wall Street bailout in history, making trillions of dollars in loans to big banks with no oversight. But after taking extreme measures to save the banks, Bernanke has shown no interest in helping regular folks who can't find jobs, even though ensuring 'full employment' is explicitly part of his mandate."

Also at 11, we're taking a closer look at appliances with the "Energy Star" label on them. Especially refrigerators. Turns out, some tests by Consumer Reports show that the energy use numbers on the labels are typically off - by up to 40%. Sade Baderinwa has our story tonight.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Scott Clark with the night's sports, including a look back at the Jets' remarkable season and playoff run. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.

BILL RITTER


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