The Hudson Valley/Catskills area took no chances this year. Recovery and reconstruction from Irene’s fury has been nightmarish, and in some places is still under way. Local officials took no chances, closing schools and offices, arranging shelters and setting up information networks. The Watershed Post established a live-blog site. But thankfully, the expected guest of honor largely skipped this party.
The Hudson River got feisty with its tidal surge, soaking the waterfronts of mid-Hudson towns like Newburgh, Beacon, Kingston and Poughkeepsie. But aside from that, and some downed limbs and wires, most of the upstate region hit so hard by Irene last year remained relatively unscathed.
Instead, New Yorkers suffered through a reversal of Irene’s scenario: While Irene was initially predicted to cause extensive damage in the metro area and less damage upstate, the opposite occurred. People who had fled New York City to shelter in the Catskills received a rude shock. This year, upstaters watched in horror as New York City’s streets and subways flooded, a generator exploded, a building’s brick facade crumbled and city firefighters battled blazes.
By mid-morning Tuesday, emergency crews had tidied much of Kingston’s waterfront, roads were reopening and folks were swapping faked pictures of sharks invading suburban yards while thanking their local first responders and road crews for their readiness and service. Ulster County lifted its driving restrictions at noon, and the Watershed Post live blog was set to be shut down at three. On Forbes.com, contributor Todd Essig sang the praises of the Hudson Valley Weather Facebook page. People invited their city friends up to stay while the cleanup down there proceeds.
A week before election day, the inevitable efforts to politicize anything and everything were unappreciated in New Jersey, where urban search and rescue were under way. Republican governor Chris Christie expressed his feeling that Obama had done “a great job for New Jersey.”
But on Facebook- by definition, the province of relatively comfortable folks with electric, Internet service and time on their hands- discussion raged over Mitt Romney’s declaration that he would abolish FEMA, with Democrats seizing the moment and Republicans defending their man. The scientifically and environmentally minded shared remarks and articles about climate change.
Far to the right, on Fox Nation, the lead story evoked the apocalyptic tone of the lead-up to this perfect storm: “Death Toll from Sandy’S Destruction Rises, Millions Face Life Without Power, Mass Transit For Days.”
According to the site’s voting widget, some three thousand Fox Nation readers found this “funny.”