Hurricane Irene Hits East Coast
Hundreds of roads and scores of bridges remained impassable days after the massive storm cut a treacherous swath across 11 states. In some rural and coastal communities, those roads and bridges were the sole access routes. Vermont's National Guard was airlifting supplies to nearly a dozen cut-off towns.
In preparing the public for a disaster, officials want to make the right call, but they also want to avoid blame.
Because people are more likely to blame public officials if there is a repeat of a previous disaster, officials tend to disproportionately focus their safety efforts on preventing similar disasters in the future, researchers say. So, for example, officials might over-react to a hurricane in light of Katrina, even if the real threat to public safety may lie elsewhere.
In Pompton Lakes, N.J., earlier this week, Gino Borova stood in the driveway of his house — which was flooded by water from the Ramapo River.
The idea that money spent on fixing the billions in damages will be good for the overall economy is known as the "broken window fallacy," Planet Money's Adam Davidson says. In reality, spending is just shifted around.
August 31, 2011 Hurricane Irene tore a path through some big coastal tourist destinations. That means some restaurants will miss out on Labor Day, usually a big weekend. In Monmouth Beach, N.J., Sallee Tee's Grille was flooded. And its chef-manager says it may take weeks to rebuild.
August 30, 2011 President Obama, like every other politician in America, has the lessons of Hurricane Katrina seared into his memory. During and after Hurricane Irene, he and his team appeared on top of the situation. But natural disasters are one of the ironies of politics — a competent response won't help much, but an incompetent one can really hurt.
August 30, 2011 It's not yet certain what the total cost of Hurricane Irene will be, but it's likely to add up to several billion dollars. That means tough choices for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has had to deal with a string of natural disasters this year.
August 29, 2011 Irene's sweep up the East Coast caused millions to lose power this past weekend — many of whom may not have it restored for days. And although most mass transit systems are up and running again, long-distance travelers aren't so lucky: They're stranded at airports and rail stations across the region.
August 29, 2011 It's still early to make exact pronouncements about how much damage Irene caused, and President Obama says the cleanup in many areas will be tough. But overall, the storm appears to have caused much less damage than forecasters said was possible.
August 29, 2011 The death toll from the storm rose to 35 as residents of mid-Atlantic and Northeast states began assessing the damage wrought by the destructive storm. Millions were still without power, and torrential floodwaters threatened towns in Vermont and elsewhere.
August 28, 2011 Now just a tropical storm, Irene pummeled New York and the Northeast Coast with intense wind and rain. But speaking on Sunday, President Obama said areas are still at risk of flooding and urged people to continue to listen to the guidance of their state and local officials in the coming days.
August 27, 2011 Parts of New York City are under evacuation orders, with more than 370,000 people ordered to leave low-lying areas as Hurricane Irene approaches the city. But on Saturday afternoon, at least, some residents were making the most of it.
August 27, 2011 But if we want to stay true to the science – which is our best and only hope – then we have to very, very honest about the limits of our knowledge and the range of our ignorance.