Hello? Aren't 35 people killed, including 11 in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut? Aren't 4 million households and businesses without power, including more than 2 million here? Aren't rivers overflowing their banks, and streets turned into streams, and some communities in the northeast facing the worst flooding in decades? Aren't farms ruined and livestock dead from the flood waters?
The answer is a simple but sad, "yes."
We in the media made no mistake by warning people about this storm. If we did make a boo-boo it's that we're consumed with numbers. As it turns out, it doesn't make much difference whether a Tropical Storm turns into a Hurricane ? a matter of only a few miles per hour in wind speed. Irene was a Cat 3, then a 2, then a 1 by the time it hit the Jersey Shore. When it landed at Coney Island in Brooklyn at 8:45 Sunday morning, it was a 65 mile-an-hour tropical storm. That it didn't reach the Hurricane Category 1 level didn't really matter ? not with that wind speed and the sluggishness of its movement and the amount of rain it was carrying in its Peter, Paul and Mary wingspan of 500 miles.
To me it's a little like insurance. Buy it because you never know. And when you weigh the risks of being prepared with the dangers of not ? well, at least to me, it's a slam dunk decision. That's why I boarded my windows. That's why I have a stash of emergency lights and a generator.
Maybe if Irene had come ashore a few miles to the west, right up Lower Manhattan, with the Battery flooded and Wall Street shut down and all those high-tech trading devices ruined, then maybe some of those cynics whose life takes them only from their apartment to their office to their diner might be whining a different tune today.
For my two cents, I say you're welcome to all those folks who emailed or stopped us on the street to say thanks for the coverage. Thanks to the reporters and photographers who risked their own safety to keep people informed. And I say to all those peeps who don't understand all the worry just because their downtown apartments still have electricity ? take a look at all the folks who don't have power, and won't have for days, and whose houses are now bathtubs.
I'm just sayin.'
Now, the clean up. We'll have the latest, tonight at 11.
We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.
P.S. I'll be off till Labor Day. This column will return then.