10 Things I Learned From Hurricane Irene

by Dax-Devlon Ross

Now that the hurricane has swept through New York, an assortment of Irene-inspired commentaries are sure to crop up in the city’s rags over the next few days. We’ll forget the fear that brought us together in a kind of doomsday dry run and start to point fingers. It’s inevitable, like weeds after a long winter. A few of the headlines I expect to encounter are:

  • ‘Mayor’s Tactics Too Extreme?’
  • ‘False Alarm’
  • ‘Administration Overcompensation?’
  • ‘Angry Residents from [insert a working-class outer borough community] Given Short Shrift?’
  • ‘Commission Formed to Review Administration’s Handling of Hurricane’
  • ‘New Yorkers from All Walks Say Storm Build-up Was Overblown’

As we drift toward Labor Day, Irene will undoubtedly recede from the headlines. By fall most of us will remember the battery shortage at Rite Aid more than the damage the storm caused.

But in an age of climate change where extreme weather patterns could, in fact, play a more prominent role in conventionally “safe” zones like New York City, the storm showed this writer a few important things.

1. In the event of a life-threatening natural disaster, prisoners are screwed

Rikers Island

A view from above

2. Convenience stores and supermarkets will sell out of the crap they can barely give away any other time

3. People with the means to do so, will head to safety…

… Meanwhile, people living in public housing can expect to have their power cut, elevators shut off and to be moved against their will

4. It doesn’t take much for something akin to martial law to be imposed

5. New Yorkers would rather tough it out at home than escape to an evacuation shelter

6. You just can’t reason with some people

Irene Watchers at Coney Island

7. On-the-scene news reporters take themselves way too seriously …

… fortunately, the rest of us don’t.

8. Mass transit will be useless:

9. Widespread panic is inevitable

10. When it comes down to it, Americans can still get the important shit done in a hurry