For more than a week, when Hurricane Irene was cruising through the Caribbean off Puerto Rico some 1700 miles away while still only a tropical storm, the entire Eastern Seaboard was put on alert for what forecasters predicted would be the storm of the century.
For those of us in New England, it was said that Irene would be as devastating as the Great Hurricane of 1938, which not only was the deadliest storm ever to hit this region, but the costliest as well.
Although Irene proved to be far less powerful than the 1938 storm, it was only thanks to a late turn onto the tip of the No. Carolina coast that prevented Irene from making a beeline over open water to Long Island and the Cape that would have tracked the path followed by the Hurricane of ’38.
On the other hand, Irene wreaked incredible havoc in upstate New York and Vermont where folks no doubt felt they would be out of the line of fire. That slight move westward down south in No. Carolina proved our salvation, but their devastation.
All of us have learned from the events of this past week that despite everything that modern civilization affords us, Mother Nature still is in control of our fate more than we might like to admit. Moreover, as those of us who have been without power for a few days have discovered, we have become so dependent upon our modern conveniences that doing without them for even a short time can make our day-to-day living extremely difficult.
We also have learned that we can hope for the best, but have to expect the worst when Mother Nature’s wrath is headed our way. The No-Name Storm of 1991, the Blizzard of ’78, and the awful photos of the carnage caused by Irene in upstate New York and Vermont are examples of how we can be taken by surprise when we do not prepare adequately for the worst possible outcome.
So put us in the group who never will get upset when forecasters get it wrong because they over-hyped a potential weather event. It is always is better to be safe than sorry when dealing with Mother Nature.