On Tuesday, Connecticut residents were preoccupied with the earthquake, which did little damage here. On Twitter, people sounded frantic about the possibility of aftershocks. This concern was rarely for/by those near the epicenter, where some property damage occurred. For perspective, a Richmond news site had no stories about the earthquake “above the fold” that evening, while every mainstream news outlet in Connecticut had it posted as the top story.
As Hurricane Irene became a formidable threat, again, the news jumped on it, making it a top story. Announcements, such as the one that Malloy declared a “state of emergency” are rarely accompanied with information about what this actually means. All people see is the word “emergency” and get their emotions stirred further. When it is declared, it means a disaster is believed to be imminent, or, it has already occurred; but, the intention is to secure funds and temporary powers to assist with the situation. Remember when a State of Emergency was declared last winter after all that snow fall? Nobody was out rioting in the streets, but removing all the snow cost a lot of money. The declaration was to help defray the cost.
Here is an explanation of the Declaration of Emergency, from the Governor’s website:
For those constantly tuned in for news updates, they are barraged with “breaking stories” — often of marginal importance — lots of red, flashing, scrolling data, dramatic music, and even graphics prepared for the occasion. Something that should be treated with attention and concern is converted into a spectacle of obsession.
The preparation advice provided by some outlets is over the top, or just silly. Others cut-and-paste lists from reputable sources, but fail to make the distinction (though the original source outlines everything well) between items we should have on hand and ones that are nice to have, but not crucial.
We should always have adequate water on hand, just as we should always have an adequate food supply. If you have a prescription that is the only thing keeping you alive, then you should always have a supply of those pills, impending natural disaster or not.
With all this hype to cut through, is it any wonder why people who live in hurricane-prone areas ignore the warnings?
Here are links to sources that are interested in informing the public, rather than grabbing their eyeballs to increase ratings:
- First Aid Kit (FEMA)
- Listo (FEMA)
- Seguridad en Caso de Huracanes (Red Cross)
- Hurricane Safety Checklist (Red Cross)
- What to Do During a Hurricane
- Announcements by Governor Malloy
- Hurricane Irene information from City of Hartford
- Active Weather Alerts (NOAA — reliable and with minimal drama)
Parker Memorial Community Center (2621 Main) and Pope Park Recreation Center are being prepared as emergency shelters.
Now, step away from the noise of television and constant media updates, and tune in to sources (above) that encourage levelheadedness.