Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Hurricane Sandy: Frankenstorm?

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

News outlets cover natural disasters purportedly as a public service. But there’s no denying that such coverage is a ratings boon for their bottom line – catering as it does to the perverse thrill of suspense that keeps us fixated on the hype of impending doom…

[But] Americans are blessed with the technology, escape routes to inland shelters and other emergency management resources to gauge and withstand hurricanes with virtually no loss of life.

(“Katrina’s coming, Katrina’s coming,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 29, 2005)

The above explains why CNN and other news outlets are streaming headlines about Cat. 1 Hurricane Sandy becoming an “unprecedented frankenstorm.”

In other words, the United States has nothing to fear but (media-stoked) fear itself. Especially since this hurricane has done little more than leave flash floods in its wake in far less sheltered and resourceful places like Jamaica, Cuba and my country of birth, The Bahamas – all of which were in its direct path.

This is not to diminish the report of 20-plus deaths that were related to the floods of course. And as one who has lived through some of the worst hurricanes in history I want

To be fair, though, much of the media hype stems from forecasts that Sandy might merge with a nor’easter (“an early winter storm from the West, and a blast of arctic air from the North”) that will create “weather mayhem” from Washington, DC to Maine … maybe.

Even so I suspect this consolidated monster will cause no greater damage (in relative terms) in the United States than Sandy caused in the Caribbean. More to the point, access to shelter is such that there is no reason for there to be any loss of life. Which is why I want to stress that, no matter how media-serving the hype or how reassuring the calm before the storm, I urge you to take all necessary steps to prepare come what may (e.g., like the power outages we in the DC metropolitan area suffer for days even in the aftermath of much less menacing storms).

That said, there is a silver lining in this frankenstorm. Because the obsessive media coverage of it over the next few days will provide us a little reprieve from their obsessive coverage of this interminable and infernal presidential campaign.

Beware frankenstorm … I guess.

Related commentaries:
Hurricane Isaac

* This commentary was published originally on Friday, October 26 at 7:01

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