Irene has passed and its assessment has begun. Most newscasters admitted there was less rain than expected, the storm surge was very slight, the wind was not as strong as expected, the electricity was only lost in few thousand homes not the millions projected, and high tide was not as high as feared.

Then he switched to a live on scene reported standing on a beach. That reporter said the waves were higher than he had ever seen, though they came nowhere close to where he was standing. He noted some TV vans might be in danger from flooding, and the cleanup would be enormous. He also noted that manhole covers are in danger of shooting up in the air from water pressure building below them. He noted how careful he was to avaoid them.

Then to yet another on the scene reporter. This guy was walking in ankle deep water commenting on what he saw floating around. He found a plastic frog while he speculated how much worse the flooding could have been.

Another anchor was warning about a coming storm surge that may cause New York’s two border rivers to overflow and flood the city at high tide this afternoon. Then they cut to an on scene interviewer who asked an official about how many trees might have been blown down. Then he repeated a list of services and roads that were still closed from hurricane fear. He speculated about how people would get to work on Monday.

On another channel we were treated to a live rescue from a house in knee deep water in Elmsford, NY. The anchor then gave a sanctimonious lecture about people who refused to evacuate. The station’s weatherman started speculating about the next hurricane and showed that might reach the Caribbean in 10 days.

All the reporters have been turned lose to find evidence of damage from the hurricane. They seemed to be giddy upon finding a downed telephone pole or a broken tree. One sharp eyed reporter found a dumpster that had floated about 9 feet from where it had been. A story about the same floating lifeguard station from four different angles was reported on four different stations. One on the scene guy pointed to the still intact railing he had leaned upon yesterday. It was still intact, but undoubtedly weaker.

North Carolina and New Jersey have already reported  10s of billions in damages. How they could arrive at these figures so quickly. Their accuracy must be in question. It is safe to assume the numbers were inflated in an attempt to wring more taxpayer money from Washington. Meanwhile the anchor began speculating on how much damage the hurricane could have caused on Long Island.

It is not 10:25. The news has been on for less than half and hour. The hurricane news was mostly bad and was mostly based on speculation. Hurricane Irene, it seems to me, was not such a big deal. It was an overblown weather prediction that got everyone worked up for almost no reason. The news should have taken a happy perspective.

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