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August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene info and updates
Posted by Teresa at 02:34 PM * 318 comments

Because I’m tired of scattering it on Twitter. My fellow bloggers should feel free to collect info from the comment thread and other threads, and repost it tidily in the main entry here.

General rules of thumb:

The problem: (1.) Water doesn’t compress. (2.) Most of NYC is at the narrow end of a funnel-shaped harbor, and most of the remainder is on a glorified sand bar with no elevation to speak of. (3.) It is physically impossible to evacuate everyone at risk in this region. (4.) The Northeast doesn’t get seriously destructive hurricanes very often, but it does get them, and this is going to be one of them.

When preparing for Irene, bear in mind that “storm is over” doesn’t mean “back to normal.” Plan for infrastructure recovery time.

Helping others makes emergencies less stressful.

Let your loved ones know you’re okay.

Be prudent. Don’t add yourself to the list of problems.

Read Jim’s posts on emergency preparedness.

If you need something useful to do: Collect names & status reports from people caught up in the emergency. Swap your lists with others who are doing the same. Make your info available to the general public, and relay it via helpers outside the affected area. Pass this on.

Meteorology and Geography:

The highest water may come around 8 pm Saturday and 8 am Sunday, when we’ll have the highest tides of the month.

Weather Underground says (you’re going to hear that phrase a lot): because this is such a big storm, and is moving so slowly, you should calculate surge heights and other risks as though it were one full category worse than its official classification.

Weather Underground continues to assign a 20% probability that the surge will overtop NYC’s floodwalls and inundate the underground rail systems.

A fine-gauge rendering of Long Island’s geographical elevations, in case you were inclined to doubt the official surge zone maps.

Greater NYC-area status reports and resources:

NYC mass transit will shut down at noon tomorrow. Governor Cuomo has also announced that several of NYC’s bridges, including the GWB, the Triboro, the Throgs Neck, and the Whitestone, will be closed in the event of sustained winds over 60 mph.

NYC storm surge flood zone map.
Long Island storm surge flood zone map.

Mayor Bloomberg has issued a mandatory evacuation order for NYC’s Zone A. Buses throughout New York City are now free. In Zone A, subway and train service is also free.

If you’re in Weehawken, Hoboken, or Bayonne, consider yourself to be in Zone A. Please seriously rethink any plans to shelter in place.

Battery Park City, time to bail. (Sorry about that, BPC peeps. You hit the jackpot twice running.)

Other Local Reports:

South Shore, Nassau County

Edgewater/North Bergen, NJ, River Road

Emergency Preparedness:

Remove window-mounted air conditioners for the duration. (Note: Opinions on this differ.)

If your local Home Depot runs out of sandbags, buy their inexpensive bagged sand/concrete mixture instead — in Brooklyn, it’s $2.98 a bag. Bonus: free paving stones afterward! (But see Mike Fitzgerald anecdote below.)

A follow-up scoop of clumping kitty litter will make a field-expedient toilet (i.e., a big plastic bucket) much more tolerable.

See the Hurricane Lantern entry and thread.

Projects and amusements

Consider emulating Steve C’s response to Hurricane Ike by taking before-and-after shots of your neighborhood.

Kate Messner has issued an invitation to writers and illustrators to join her “Created in the Path of Irene” project:

Many of us are about to have a shared experience, in the form of a big storm that’s barreling up the East Coast.

First of all, stay safe. FEMA has a page with lots of tips and safety information.

Second…would you like to be part of a collaborative writing experience? This storm is poised to affect millions of us, all up and down the East Coast. So here’s the invitation part…

Write or draw something as the storm passes through. Maybe by flashlight or candlelight while the power is out…maybe in between trips downstairs to bail out the basement. And then, let’s gather all that writing and art together to see what people created as Hurricane Irene passed through.

A little background… I’m a bit of a weather geek. I’m married to a meteorologist, so it’s not uncommon for cold fronts and funnel clouds to be dinner conversation at our house. And I wrote a book about storms. So I’ll be writing this weekend. On my laptop, as long as the battery lasts, and then if the power goes out, I’ll be scribbling in my notebook.

Want to join me? Here’s what I’m thinking…

1. Create something - a poem, a description, a short story, a dialogue, a song, a comic, a sculpture, a drawing, a scarf, a piece of jewelry, a quick scene for a movie, a dance, a collage…whatever you want. Create it while you’re waiting for the storm or in the middle of the storm, or after the storm has passed. (If you’re not in the path of Irene, that’s okay…you can write about what you see on the news or hear from relatives & friends.)

2. Please keep your creations appropriate for audiences of all ages. (Obviously, you’re free to create whatever you want - but I want to make sure the posts that I share here are appropriate for teachers K-12 to share in classrooms. Thanks!)

3. Share what you created on your blog or your Facebook page or Google+ or wherever you share things online. If it’s art, you can share a photo. If you’re a kid, you can ask your teacher or librarian or a parent to share it for you. If you don’t have a blog or another place online to share writing, just come back here and paste what you wrote into a comment, and I’ll share it for you.

4. Include your city & state, plus the date and time you created the work.

5. Come back to this post and leave a comment with a link to what you shared. Also, let me know who you are (i.e. author of XYZ series, 5th grader in Quincy, Massachusetts, Librarian in the Outer Banks) Names are optional.

6. Next week, after the storm has passed, I’ll create a big post with links to all of our work that was “Created in the Path of Irene.” It’ll be kind of like a Hurricane Irene Online Museum.

Author/illustrator friends…when you post your storm writing & art, you may want to include a quick bio and information about your books; some folks who come to see your storm creations may not be familiar with your other work.

And everyone… please feel free to share this invitation far and wide - and teachers, I’d love it if you’d extend the invitation to your students, too! It would be great to see what younger writers come up with, and I think it would be really cool for kids to see their hurricane reflections shared alongside those of published authors.


The back door is now encircled by a little pillbox-structure of bags of concrete-and-sand mix. My excellent landlord Mike Fitzgerald helped. He looked dismayed when he first saw the concrete mix, and pointed out that if any of it got washed down the backyard drain, we could kiss that drain goodbye.

Good catch, I said. We wrapped each bag in heavyweight black plastic yard bags, then in three turns of a tightly woven but otherwise undistinguished white-with-roses fabric I had that nobody has ever wanted, and I could never figure out what to do with. I started with what must have been twenty or thirty yards of the stuff, and I still have enough of it to wrap a mummy.

I must say, all that flowered cotton gives the back-door pillbox a sort of cozy war-at-home look. All I need now is a wooden practice gun and a flat-brimmed Brodie helmet.

We’ve also sandbagged the downstairs loo. I woke up this morning with the realization that if the neighborhood runoff drains backed up badly enough that my backyard drain stopped working, it could send backwash up the sewer pipes. I have dealt with a flood like that exactly once — I lost rugs, a sofa, and various other items, and had to scrub the whole basement out with a mixture of detergent and non-chlorine bleach, while saying “ick ick ick” a lot — and I never want to have to deal with another.

Laura Mixon and Emma Mixon-Gould were going to be staying here tonight, but they decided to leave early. I’m sorry they won’t be here longer, but I think it was the right decision. They’ll be travelling to Jane Yolen’s in advance of the really bad weather, and when they get there they can help Heidi try to weatherproof Jane’s house. Best guess right now is that the hurricane is going to travel up the Connecticut Valley, so it’s going to hit a lot of our friends. With any luck, it’ll have calmed down by the time it hits Northampton, Colebrook, Montreal, and all those points in between.

Comments on Hurricane Irene info and updates:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 03:13 PM:

Please be prudent and sane -- and I'll keep my fingers crossed that everything goes well.

#2 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 03:29 PM:

If I were prone to anthropomorphizing, I'd be scared because Irene seems to be targeting about 90% of the people I know. My family is in the Chesapeake Bay area/ Eastern Shore, up through Baltimore and my wife and I have friends all up and down the East coast, from Raleigh to New York who are in harms way. It's going to be a very tense weekend.

Stay safe everybody!

#3 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 03:36 PM:

Voluntary evacuation of the barrier beach island a few hundred yards to my south was called about half an hour ago, with a probable mandatory evac later tonight. (South shore of LI's Nassau County.) No mention of my (lower-lying) island, but I'm leaving in a couple of hours. I'd go sooner, but my sister won't be home from work yet. She's in Brooklyn, but not a surge zone.

#4 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 03:38 PM:

I would say people in Edgewater/North Bergen on River Road ought to consider themselves Zone A as well. River Road, despite being on the river, has particularly poor drainage and floods in any storm of appreciable size. Last week, there were portions of the road that were under 1 1/2-2 feet of water.

#5 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 04:20 PM:

Note borked link around Bloomberg issuing a mandatory evacuation order in the original post. Never mind Bloomberg seeming a bit of a borked link himself....

#6 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 04:32 PM:

Stay safe, folks.

If you're safe and have nothing else you need to do to stay safe as you wait it out, Kate Messner suggests writing/drawing/creating something during the storm -- and she'll be gathering links to everything that's created as the result of everyone's shared experiences afterwards.

#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 04:55 PM:

Ron Paul rejects FEMA role in hurricane response

I hope everyone's planning, packing, and prepping is going well.

#8 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 05:03 PM:

Will be lighting candles when I get home, and keeping all of you in harm's way in mind.

One disturbing report I saw earlier today suggested that leafy trees + saturated ground + hurricane winds could snap enough powerlines to trigger a cascade failure of the entire NE electric grid...ugh. I hope he's wrong.

#9 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 05:12 PM:

News out of the Carolinas:

400 to 500 people have elected to ride out the storm on Ocracoke, and about half the population of Hatteras Island (2,500) declined to evacuate.

#10 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 05:14 PM:

My mother is in a nursing home recovering from knee surgery. The Atlantic Ocean is visible from the home. She's been evacuated. Dad may go to a relative's house. My childhood home is 8' above sea level, in Zone B.

Everyone is in my thoughts and prayers.

#11 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 05:41 PM:

From AFP:
"...Google has rolled out an online map tracking the path of Hurricane Irene and providing other useful information about the storm headed for the US east coast.

The map, located at, is a product of the Google Crisis Response team, which provides online tools to help with relief efforts following natural disasters.

The map displays three- to five-day forecasts for Hurricane Irene, shows evacuation routes and which coastal areas of the eastern United States are in danger of facing a storm surge.

Besides maps, online tools developed by Google include the "Person Finder," which attempts to locate and reunite victims of earthquakes or other disasters."

Keeping a good thought for everyone in the path of Irene.

#12 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 05:45 PM:

Latest report on Irene has her steadily losing strength before making landfall in NC. If the weakening continues, Irene will be a strong Cat 1 hurricane rather than a Cat 3 when she comes ashore, but the effects further north will be the same if Irene is a strong tropical storm or a Cat 1 hurricane.

We're getting the first outer bands of rain here in Raleigh now. They're predicting a rainy, windy night and day tomorrow for us, but no damaging weather.

#13 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 06:19 PM:

Wait, what? Remove window a/c units? Crud. This is the first time I've ever had any, and now I have two. Well, too bad; I can't take them out by myself, and the maintenance guys have all gone home because it's 6pm Friday. This hurricane is *extremely inconvenient,* you know.

#14 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 06:27 PM:

TexAnne @ 13... This hurricane is *extremely inconvenient,* you know

Luckily not all storm serges are inconvenient.

#15 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 06:31 PM:

I live in Mamaroneck, on the north shore of Long Island Sound. I spent the morning collecting local links for an email that went out on the library's email list. Tomorrow morning, I'll stop off at the library, collect the usb drive that contains the website files and make sure there's a link to these links on our website and updates as they become available - I meant to bring it home tonight, but left it at work. It just seemed like the sort of information a library should have easily accessible.

Right now I'm cursing that I left that at work as I see that both the village and the town have issued mandatory evacuations for certain areas (not me yet). We've got both the Sound and the Mamaroneck River to worry about and there are certain areas that are prone to flooding.

Thankfully, even though I can see the harbor from my corner, I'm also about 20 feet above it. I've got plenty of food for me and the bunnies, a gas stove, and I'm using the icemaker to pack the freezer with ice, just in case. Tomorrow, the patio stuff comes inside and I find the lighter and put it by the stove in case I can't use the electric pilot light, fill the bathtub with water and do the last of the laundry. And with any luck that should see me through. Or else I'll wake up Sunday and discover I'm horribly overprepared, but I don't believe in taking chances.

#16 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 06:33 PM:

Serge@14: Only for cloth-minded folks.

#17 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 06:49 PM:

Good thoughts and safe passage to all in Irene's path.

I'm a quarter of a world away from her, but many of my friends and a few of my cousins are in the vicinity.

Janni @6: I love Kate Messner's notion.

#18 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 06:57 PM:

If you have prescription medication and are evacuating, try to also take along the med info sheets or at least a printed list of what you are taking, in case (God forbid) you should need emergency (or even routine) care while you are away from your regular clinic. Just sayin'.

#19 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 07:20 PM:

The crisislanding trajectory map shows Irene tromping right through Nassau Country, where I grew up. It's funny seeing that blue line running through places I know quite well. Beware, Muttontown! (There were still sheep there, at least as of 30 years ago.)

#20 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 07:40 PM:

Scary stuff - hang tight everyone and prepare as best you can.

I see that my childhood home is in a Zone C area. In all the years my family owned that house (approx 70) no one remembered the basement flooding.

The Long Island map is interesting, but slightly confusing. Half of the Great Neck villages are printed over Douglaston and Little Neck.

#21 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 08:04 PM:

Here in DC I'm far enough away from open water and on high enough ground that I am not one whit concerned about flooding; and I don't figure there's anything I can do about my windows if they want to break. But I concluded that if New York is wigging, it might be prudent to wig a bit, so I'm taking this thing more seriously than I was this time yesterday. ... Even so I'm in danger of being without power for a couple of days is all. Y'all north of here, stay all the way safe.

#22 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 08:19 PM:

Do we have an alternate Fluorospheric gathering point designated should lose power?

#23 ::: Robert West ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 08:22 PM:

John L, @12: From what I can tell reading, say, Brendan Loy and Jeff Masters, the eyewall collapsed without the storm undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle. Which is, overall, very good news.

#24 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 08:35 PM:

Made it to my sister's safely. Thanks for the tip about taking out window airconditioners; I got the super to take mine down before I left.

Stay safe, everyone.

#25 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 08:35 PM:

Stay safe, everybody.

#26 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 08:49 PM:

Best of luck to everyone involved. May the weather gods be merciful, and may the chaos deities be propitiated sufficiently by the actual storm itself to avoid playing their usual tricks with regards to power, water and food supplies.

#27 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 09:01 PM:

Holding good thoughts for you all!

#28 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 09:01 PM:

My dad just told me that in the opinion of his local Extremely Experienced Non-Bobblehead TV Weather Guy (i.e. he's been doing this for at least 30 years, predicted Rita and Ike accurately, and has never in his professional life stood outside in the rain with a live microphone), Irene will be at most Cat 1 and more likely a tropical storm when it gets to NY. It won't help with the storm surge, but I feel better knowing that the winds probably won't be hideous.

#29 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 09:07 PM:

Good thoughts for all of you in the path of the breeze blow. Good luck to you all.

#30 ::: Emma in Sydney ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 09:33 PM:

I'm here on the other side of the world, sending every best wish for luck and safety to all of you in the path of the storm. Take care of yourselves and each other.

#31 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 09:40 PM:

Jacque #22: "Do we have an alternate Fluorospheric gathering point designated should lose power?"

In fact, is physically housed in a network operations center in Jacksonville, Florida, so it seems unlikely that Irene will take it down. It's much more likely that the Actual Existing Nielsen Haydens will be without power for some period of time, while those of you not in Irene's track cavort on our web site. When you set your drink down on the antique Sousaphone case, do remember to use a coaster.

#32 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 09:46 PM:

TexAnne #28, nothing would make me happier than discovering that we'd overprepared.

Besides, we're off to visit Abi & the Sutherland clan in Amsterdam for much of September; the work we're putting in will also serve to make our basement more waterproof while we're gone during a big chunk of hurricane season.

#33 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 09:50 PM:

Jacque #22:
I doubt the Making Light site will be in any peril, and there are of course moderators outside the evacuation zones.

Still: If needed, I have the following open thread open on my site:


I did a similar thing for Katrina.

#34 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 10:02 PM:

I want a picture of the fabric-covered bunker.

I have had to clean up a sewage-infested basement (main to street main collapsed, was original Orangeburg tile circa 1912).

Fortunately everything in that part of the basement was sufficiently elevated on pallets to survive dry but the floor of that deep utility room (deeper than the rest of the basement, thank ghu) was vile. We DID use bleach to help clean. A lot of it. EEEUW.

best wishes to all! be careful, it's better to be safe and wise than caught in a hurricane or flood.

#35 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 10:05 PM:

I posted a photo over on my G+ account of some emergency vehicles --- including two boats --- parked in Grand Army Plaza, near my apartment.

Which is a pretty good place for 'em. We're something like 80 feet above sea level here, and the plaza is the intersection point for Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway, a pair of major thoroughfares. If everyone stays indoors, traffic should be light, and it should be easy to get those vehicles wherever they need to go.

#36 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 10:11 PM:

Just chiming in for completeness's sake: Even before the news of Irene's downgrade, I wasn't worrying too much because I'm in central Virgina, and furthermore on the top half of a row of townhouses, in a development that's across the street from a Dominion Power substation.

Of course, we get our own flavor of storms over here: Sudden, brief, but amazingly violent. I think it's been twice in five years that I've lost power for more than an hour or so, but both of those were freak storms that left the whole town paralyzed for days.

#37 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 10:30 PM:

I'm betting heavily that Bloomberg's "I'll close the subways 12.5 hours before Philadelphia does" response will be laughed at on Monday.

Which doesn't mean the lawns aren't being cleaned, the basement office isn't being de-floored, the flashlights aren't being found, the candles aren't at the ready, and there isn't checking of the grading in the usual places being done.

As Patrick said, the worst that happens with hurricane prep is that the next major rainstorm does less damage. And the rainy season doesn't end when we say Goodnight, Irene.

#38 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 10:40 PM:

Patrick, I'm underprepared and know it; my comment was whistling past the graveyard on my own behalf, not a reflection on the preparations of others.

#39 ::: Bill Burns ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 10:41 PM:

Cheryl @11 - our house is less than a mile from the track of the storm through the "P" in Hempstead, Long Island, on that map, although the last I heard the track was revised to be further east. Plug in 23 Kensington Ct 11550 to see where we are.

#40 ::: sandy -mobile ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2011, 11:25 PM:

Any of you new-to-nj people who want to be farther inland are welcome to send word: nebuolusfnordmenace atsign yafnordhoodot com. We have food boardgames candles and a feeling that we're behind on hospitality. New providence is about 400 feet elevation. Pardon any smartphone typos.

#41 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:06 AM:

Not that this is hugely related to the ongoing preparation for Irene (my family is in MA, and should be fine), I'm just amused to notice that sandy -mobile at 39 is offering shelter in the town that my father and his sisters grew up in and where my grandparents lived for about half a century. Small world.

#42 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:26 AM:

Here's hoping for a not overly exciting weekend for all.

#43 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:52 AM:

Triangle area of NC here. Just a little rain so far, no wind yet. The wind advisory starts at 6 AM, for 35 mph winds.

Preparations: All outdoor things came in today. We have a pantry full of canned, dried, and otherwise shelf-stable items; bottled water for 3 days; a hand-crank-powered combination flashlight and radio; battery-powered flashlights and extra batteries; plenty of cat food. Cars are gassed up, and go bag is packed and by the door. Cat carriers are by the door too. Unlikely we'll have to leave, but flooding is theoretically possible. (There is a nearby creek but we are uphill from it.)

I'm more worried about power outages. We had 8 days without power after Fran in '96. It was pretty miserable after day 3. This doesn't look like it'll be quite as bad here, but still, preparation can't hurt. I hope it won't be that bad anywhere.

Take care of yourselves, everyone.

P.S. It takes more than 8 days of failure to stop instinctively hitting a lightswitch when you walk into a dark room. Or maybe I'm just slow on the uptake.

#44 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 01:07 AM:

Good luck all who are in the path. May your preparations be all that you need.

#45 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 03:09 AM:

How big is Irene? This big.

Taken from the NOAA GOES-13 satellite at 10:45 a.m. EDT Friday.

#46 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:07 AM:

Done what we can do except bathtub and air conditioners (which there are conflicting opinions on). We are in Sunnyside / Woodside, shelter in place area.

My brother is in Zone C in Co-Op City, and I hope he listens to my advice. I sent him email about filling the tub and going lower down, as he is on floor 29. And, he plans to check with neighbors in the part of town where we used to live. He is on good terms with them, and hopefully, they will be both more aware of facts on the ground there than I am and more capable of getting my brother to listen, if he is being oblivious to the danger.

Thanks for to all for the good wishes for the area. It makes me, at least, feel less alone.

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:24 AM:

Jacque @22:

The usual fallback for Making Light is my otherwise-disused personal blog, Evilrooster Crows. These days, I might run such refugee threads on Noise2Signal. Whichever I don't use would point to the one I do.

Short version: Google "Abi Sutherland" and find a non-ML blog. Go there for further instructions.

#48 ::: Debio ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 06:48 AM:

I thought about this for awhile before deciding to post.

I have a MUD* up and running that is pretty empty right now. That is, there are no players, haven't been any in a long time. We aren't actually trying to get any, really, it's mostly a personal play ground.

But it is open and all of you are welcome to come on if you are looking for some place for real time communication for the next few days.

telnet to 6789

I only mention this because questions about backup communication came up. This is not an attempt to get people to come play. And I won't feel bad if it gets ignored or eaten by the gnomes for the above address.

*A MUD is an old school online RPG. Text only. You can connect with just basic telnet**.

**I think I just outed myself on geekiness. Oh well, this is the place to do it I suppose.

#49 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 08:28 AM:

Thank you, Debio. That's very generous. It wouldn't be the first time I've hung out in a telnet-accessed environment.

#50 ::: Simon W ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 09:12 AM:

May all of you in Irene's path live in uninteresting times.

You really should post a picture of your floral barricade though, after that teaser of a description.

#51 ::: Tom B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 09:12 AM:

I have never chimed in here before, but I wanted to point out another option for those of you in the path of Irene, and and for future reference to anyone reading that may experience future large scale disasters. I haven't seen it mentioned, although I might have missed it, but better redundant mention than no mention.

The American Red Cross has a program called Safe and Well. It allows you to register after a disaster so that family and friends can search on either your phone number or address and see a text message from you. Anybody in an affected area can use it and the Red Cross does try and have anyone in their shelters use the service, but it is entirely voluntary,

#52 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 09:42 AM:

We've had strong winds and heavy rain here in Raleigh since yesterday afternoon. Irene just came ashore a few hours ago, but it's so big the storm isn't losing strength very quickly at all. Storm surge and torrential rains appear to be the worst threats from Irene, but high winds around tall buildings like at NYC and Boston can't be ignored either.

If you're not getting rain yet and you're in the path of Irene, use these remaining hours to secure your property and get as safe as you can. We're 200 miles west of the eye of Irene and we've had trees blown down and flooding taking place, so don't think you're safe just because you're west of its path.

#53 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 09:52 AM:

Before-and-after pictures might be good for insurance purposes.

#54 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:03 AM:

I'm hoping that Hurricane Irene falls apart after crossing Cape Hatteras, and that everyone has a good laugh about the over-hyped preparedness.

Because, really, that would be so much better than what might happen with this monster. Everyone, stay safe.

#55 ::: Chris Willrich ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:32 AM:

Take care, everyone in the path.

#56 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:38 AM:

My complex has 7 buildings: an 18-floor (mine), 5 with 17 floors and 1 with 16 floors. There are terraces to each apartment from the 5th floor up. Many people use the terraces as storage space. From what I see from my windows, very few have brought chairs and stuff inside.

I brought in my chairs and stuff (unused flower pots) around 7 a.m. Even though I keep some of them bungee corded to the railing, I still don't want to lose a chair or a table, and maybe a window along with the chair. I know that stuff can be blown around -- one nor'easter moved chairs across the terrace. That's why I began to bungee cord the chairs.

The management office did send out a memo about either tying things down or bringing inside. I hope no one loses something or is hurt by a flying chair.

#57 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:43 AM:

Someone might have posted this before....

Irene from space

Something else to remember: If you lose power and use a generator, be careful where you put it. Needless to say, it needs to be outdoors, but if you put it too close to the house, the exhaust fumes could be drawn into the vents under your eaves. Someone in the Houston area was sickened just that way after Ike.

#58 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:49 AM:

Aaaand the rain just got to where I am. Cross your fingers for those, like me, whom Irene caught flat-footed.

#59 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:54 AM:

I hope you get through ok, Anne. You aren't the only person staying at the school, right? You'll have help in the aftermath?

#60 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:59 AM:

And if you're using a gasoline-powered generator, for heaven's sake shut it off while you're refueling!

I once transported a gentleman with 36% body surface area partial and full-thickness burns who had neglected that step.

#61 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 11:01 AM:

beth, 59: Almost everyone stayed. So I'll have help, and I'll probably be help too. I'm calling it an Adventure and planning how I'll tell the story. In between pronouncing blasphemous imprecations at all the boxes I haven't dealt with yet, I mean.

#62 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 11:03 AM:

Mandatory evacuation was announced last night for the entire South Shore of Nassau County, LI. They want everyone out by 5PM today. But some people aren't going to leave.

I hope my friend who stayed gets to say "I told you so" on Monday. I'd hate to have to say that to her.

#63 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 11:04 AM:

Stay safe, everyone. Fingers crossed that it turns into a best-case scenario.

#64 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 11:26 AM:

Mary Aileen (and other LI-ers) I have a family member in Rockville Centre, between Merrick Rd and Sunrise Highway, and I can't tell from the link if that puts him in the evac zome or not. (West of RVC it would, east of it it wouldn't, but where's the dividing line IN it?) Anyone know if there are any maps?

#65 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 11:49 AM:

Debio @48

If you have Windows, there is a program called Mudsock which handles things nicely. Keeps your input apart from what else is happening. And it's very simple to set up and use.

#66 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:18 PM:

"Hurricane Irene will start with intermittent light rain," yeah sure. It started with a ferocious downpour that caught us running an errand on foot. Good thing we had our umbrellas, but it was still a challenge. Then the rain slacked off, the wind shifted, and the humidity dropped. This is strange weather.

The guy down at the pet supply store was saying he hoped it would turn out to be a lot less serious than feared. He's in Zone A, a block from the waterfront.

A block sound of him, also along the waterfront, Rossman Farms produce and the live and halal animal store are conducting business as usual.

#67 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:21 PM:

The Weather Channel has people on the ground up and down the coast, from NC up to NYC. Their reports from Virginia Beach (65mph winds already, 400 miles north of the eye) showed many private vehicles driving around in the teeth of the storm. I think the lack of experience with hurricanes is causing a lot of people to take this storm with a grain of salt; after all, it's "only" a Cat 1 hurricane. The reporter said he saw people trying to nail plywood over windows an hour before the high winds hit. Alcohol may also be involved in their decision to drive around in the storm.

Down in NC, we've learned our lesson; hardly anyone gets on the road until a hurricane has left.

#68 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:30 PM:

The center is still on Hatteras, and it's raining in NYC. Big freaking storm. Flooding from the rain alone is going to be a big issue.

I hope everyone in NY has gotten to safety.

#69 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:37 PM:

Janni (64): Merrick Rd. and Sunrise Hwy cross in Rockville Center, so if she's between the two, she should not be in the evac zone. My understanding is that they want the people south of *both* roads to evacuate north. FEMA flood zone maps I've seen bear that out.

Google map of Rockville Centre

#70 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:38 PM:

And the evac zone for Rockville Centre itself seems to be south of Merrick, according to someone who lives there, anyway. In case anyone else was wondering.

#71 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:39 PM:

Thank you, Teresa.

I hadn't yet had the chance to mention that my daughter, having never experienced a hurricane direct hit during all the years she grew up in Hawaii, has just moved to Brooklyn in time to experience one there. I'm sure she'll be fine though; she's not in any evacuation zone, and she knows the prep from seeing us go through it so many times. She tells me that while her roommates were still going "Oh, it'll never hit New York", she was buying canned goods, battery lamps, and 3G water per person, and was all stocked up by the time they started panicking.

#72 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:41 PM:

Attention Teresa or other blogmeister:
The link for the hurricane evacuation zone map is busted (404). A working link at the NYC gov site is:

#73 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:47 PM:

Out here in Seattle, we're tracking the storm and news intensely, as much of my family is along the East Coast. My sister, her partner, and her son all work for the MTA: she is sleeping, after a long involved shift; the partner is still at work, shutting down the subways; and my nephew, who does track repair, is anticipating a busy week next week.

May everyone be safe and healthy.

#74 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 12:47 PM:

Another hand raised here, asking for photos of the floral-wrapped barricade.

#75 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 01:01 PM:

Just got back from one last run to the grocery store (half a block from my building). No water, no bread but they got meat this morning and milk. (I may make chili this evening.) They are closing early -- around 3 pm, I think. I'm now in for the duration. I got everything off my terrace so I'm good there. There was some rain earlier but it stopped.

#76 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 01:15 PM:

We taxied from downtown up to Jumel Terrace before 8 AM. El V's been hauling bricks to brick up the basement entry way and tarp it, helping bring in the metal lawn furniture and potted plants to the basement, etc. K got up on his roof to check again the gutters are clear. Like everybody he's worried about his roof with the wind and rain. Lots of trees here.

I have been merely pottering because of my back which just about out, as it is. Making hard boiled eggs, ice for the coolers, and so on.

We're having a big dinner tonight with K and C's neighbors and neighborhood posse. Some of K's sister, bil and her niece are here too, along with K & C's son, also college age. Niece is here to start her freshman college year. They went out this AM anyway to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy dorm room things.

Now we're all taking baths and doing the innertubz. The rain has re-commenced. I'm glad we're on the Jumel Mountain and not downtown.

Love, C.

#77 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 01:41 PM:

DC here. It's been raining for about an hour and a half. Misting so lightly I couldn't tell when I popped out around 11 to buy rum; chucking it down fifteen minutes later; medium ordinary rain since then. Hardly windy at all. The sort of thing that could lull you into thinking "oh, this won't be so bad after all." Using up the perishables while the power is still on.

#78 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 02:13 PM:

The local drugstore here in Brooklyn still had bottled water this morning, and were bringing more in. They were out of the larger sizes of batteries (C and D), but had lots of the smaller sizes. That was four hours ago, though, so who knows by now.

It's been raining off and on most of the day. Medium rain started a bit before 10:00, while we were out, then it stopped for a while. A real downpour around 1:00. Right now, nothing at all and the sky's a bit lighter. Bracing ourselves...

#79 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 02:14 PM:

Constance@76: Niece is here to start her freshman college year. They went out this AM anyway to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy dorm room things.

We're moving our younger son into the dorms at Curry College this weekend -- move-in for returning students was supposed to be happening on Sunday, but they've moved it to Monday, when in theory the storm will have passed by. The poor kid has got rotten move-in luck; he was a mid-year transfer to Curry last year, and the day we had to move him in was the day of that massive snowstorm that blanketed the east coast clear up into Maine.

#80 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 02:27 PM:

My nephew was supposed to move into his NYC dorm tomorrow. They (he and my brother) came in a day early--Friday evening--and are trying to do as much of it as they can today. (Originally, they weren't going to have access to the dorm before tomorrow, but that obviously got changed.)

#81 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 02:48 PM:

This morning, went to my mother's to remove the wooden slats stacked on some above-head-height brackets on her terrace (been there 20 years; read as "part of wall" to mom when she was clearing the terrace--it's my late father's stuff that just nevver got thrown out).

Went to bank, got more cash. Can use cash for Atlanta trip if not needed for hurricane.

Bought more water. Now have 5 gallons.

Bought nuts, dried fruit, fish in pouches, cereal, and other food that doesn't need refrigeration or much in the way of preparation.

May fill tub, but am debating, since cat will probably spend the night in the bathroom (storms freak him out, though at the moment he is sleeping with his head on my ankle). Have taped half the windows and will finish the others soon. Am leaving AC in place as have courtyard apartment (courtyard furniture taken in by building staff). Closed windows in apt. hallway, since no one else had, so why not help out?

Flashlights all working. Radio still needs to be checked; will do that shortly.

Not raining in my part of Queens at the moment, but has been raining on and off since around 10 AM, including a torrent around noon.

My brother has decided not to evacuate; his town has not issued an evacuation order. So I'm hoping that the overlapping barrier islands between him and the Atlantic hold.

#82 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 02:55 PM:

On a lighter note, my daughter's Irene prep video:

(also, bragging here, this one's not related to Irene but I think it's darn funny:

#83 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 03:05 PM:

Melissa, 81: Thanks for reminding me--I should go check my hall windows too.

#84 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 03:10 PM:

So far wind and some rain in Durham (140+ miles inland). Wind is phenomenologically 3-4, gusting to 6 or maybe 7, on the Beaufort scale. Rain has been quite moderate -- it pelts down much harder than this during thunderstorms. No power loss, not even internet loss.

But our smoke detector took this opportunity to bleep at us periodically. And our washing machine took this opportunity to leak while washing a load of sheets. Perhaps the chaos gods have been insufficiently propitiated.

I still can't figure out the smoke detector, actually. It's wired into the ceiling, and when I went and unscrewed it from the ceiling I could not find a battery. I asked Keith to look at it, and he couldn't find one either. Screwed it back into the ceiling and pushed the test button. The test works -- and it quit bleeping after that. I'm still worried though -- shouldn't it have a battery backup?

As for the washing machine, I'm about to go unplug it (yes Uncle Jim, I promise to unplug it first) and open it up. All external hoses and connections look fine. We shall see.

John L @ 67 -- I really hope no one trying to drive through the storm gets hurt. Cat 1 hurricanes are still hurricanes, not just a rainy day.

WRAL (Raleigh, NC) gives updates. Irene has torn the roof off a mall in Goldsboro, NC, about 60 miles inland, and damaged buildings in Greenville and Bath. There has been significant flooding along the coast, as well as tornadoes. A 7-foot storm surge flooded the Neuse River; swift-water rescues had to be made.

Everybody, please be careful, and do what you can to stay safe. The wind and flooding is no joke. I'm safe and relatively unaffected here because I'm so far inland. But just a bit east of here, it looks like a very dangerous situation.

#85 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 03:12 PM:

And what did Ron Paul feel about the Resident 2001 - 2008 saying that the federal government would help that Mississippi Senator rebuild his destroyed-by-Katrina house? Did Ron Paul object?

#86 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 03:22 PM:

I think we can take it as given that Ron Paul is primarily a jackass--or at least, nothing I've ever heard about him has inspired me to go looking for his non-jackass qualities, assuming he has any.

But yes..."1900"? Sure thing, Ron--you go first.

Back on topic, sending the good mojo for safety to all in the path of Irene, that by the time it reaches you, it shall be spent, or mostly so.

#87 ::: Kate Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:03 PM:

Caroline @84: I'm staying with my aunt right now (not related to the storm, since we're in Tennessee) and her smoke alarms are the same way. The one near my room started beeping at me last week while my aunt was out, so I got a battery and figured I'd take care of it for her. I couldn't find the battery no matter what I did. It turns out that you can unplug the whole unit from the wires to handle more easily, at which point it's simple to take the front off as usual and replace the battery. Good luck!

To all in Irene's path, I hope you're all safe and sound.

#88 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:08 PM:


Almost certainly he did object--you can fault RP for having bad ideas, but not generally for lack of consistency in them.

#89 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:12 PM:

Oddly, my family is in Hawaii for vacation while all this earthquake and hurricane stuff is going on. We've delayed coming home (our vacation will now include a couple days in SF), hopefully for long enough for the roads to be clear and the power back on, though we live in a place whose main danger from a hurricane is loss of power or a tree falling on our roof.

All you guys riding this out are in my prayers.

#90 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:20 PM:

Taping windows is not considered an effective tactic to keep them from breaking any more. If a projectile hits them they'll break anyway despite the tape. It's better to just pick up anything that may become a missile and hope for the best, or put up plywood/storm shutters.

#91 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:23 PM:

Taping windows doesn't prevent them from breaking, but it does hold the shards together so they are less likely to become shrapnel.

It's not an ideal solution, but it's better than no solution.

#92 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:23 PM:

I hope you're right, Teresa, about the storm calming down as it moves toward MA; I've got a lot of friends in the Northampton area. Come to think of it, I've got friends in Connecticut, too.

Hunker down, guys.

#93 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:32 PM:

Looking at those satellite pictures, I think Irene may be bigger than Katrina was.

GoodThoughts continuing for everyone in the path of peril.

#94 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:41 PM:

Patrick @31: is physically housed in a network operations center in Jacksonville, Florida

Oh good. I figured you guys had things in hand, but just thought I'd check.

I'm thinking thoughts of safety in y'all's direction.

#95 ::: Xopher, on the lam ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:56 PM:

Evacced yesterday from Hoboken to Morristown, NJ, which is considerably inland and much higher ground. Worried about my friends who decided to shelter in place.

Taping windows doesn't help, huh? Sure wish I'd heard that before spending all day taping my windows and those of several friends. Maybe I'd've spent more time packing and remembering to bring my crank radio (which is also a flashlight), my small shaker flashlight, candles and lighters...maybe I'd've tracked down the charger for my big LED flashlight, which shouldn't be far away since I just charged the damned thing the other day.

Oh, well, I got out.

Now I'm worried about my friends who decided to stay. They're saying up to eight feet of flood (they mean above street level) in some parts of Hoboken. I live in the low part, but three to five feet above the lowest point, which is the westernmost street in Hoboken, right before the cliff. Mandatory evac order for all ground floor units in Hoboken is in place. My apartment is on the fourth floor and should be fine from a flood standpoint.

My dear friend Lenore, that selfsame Lenore who so kindly posted here during my hospitalization, decided to stay. She's on the second floor, which is actually higher than it sounds because the first floor is actually half a story above street level. This is the law in our neighborhood, and this type of event is precisely why. She says she's fine, and will stay near the center of the apartment if the wind gets high, away from the windows.

My apartment is much smaller. To really be away from the windows I'd have to be in the bathroom or kitchen. The bathroom fan has been known to leak water during heavy rain; I put up some plastic sheeting sloping down into the shower before I left, which I hope will take care of that problem.

Like many others I'm hoping I feel silly on Monday. I hope the people who sheltered in place get all the I-told-you-so, not least because that will mean they're all safe!

Bright blessings on everyone (AIBYOW) in the path of Irene, with good wishes for your safety, health, and happiness.

#96 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 04:59 PM:

abi @47: Short version: Google "Abi Sutherland" and find a non-ML blog. Go there for further instructions.

Oh good. I figured as much, but on the non-zero chance I'd missed a clue somewhere, it's good to know for sure, thanks.

#97 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:07 PM:

Kate Shaw @ 87, I just tried to unplug it, and couldn't find a way to do that either. There doesn't seem to be any sort of plug or connector; the wires just enter the device. The internet implies that it may be such an old smoke detector that it doesn't actually have a battery backup -- and that it may be beeping because it's dying of old age. Once the storm passes I'll go get a new one.

#98 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:10 PM:

Debio @48: telnet to 6789

Ah! Got in.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @49: It wouldn't be the first time I've hung out in a telnet-accessed environment.

It would, however, be the first time I've attempted a text only RPG. Heh. Didn't get very far. :)

#99 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:14 PM:

Caroline, how old is the house? Out here there've been mutterings about new rules potentially requiring that all builders wire new houses internally for smoke detectors.

#100 ::: CathiBea Stevenson ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:34 PM:

This is and idea that I have not seen before From Google + (not recommenced until they get the pseudonym problem fixed)

Andy Ihnatko originally shared this post:
Note to New England/NYC'ers: if you don't have a UPS, there's probably just still time to buy one, plug it in, and get 12-16 hours of charge on it before you might lose power. Local stores are probably completely out of batteries, water, and other obvious necessities, but you can probably still run down to Staples or OfficeMax and take your pick of UPS's.

A UPS is normally thought of as a way to get 15-30 minutes of "quick, save everything and shut down" time on a desktop. But when you're talking about MacBooks (60 watt charger), iPads (10W) and iPhones (damned-near nothing), a UPS is a big bucket of electricity with a lid on it and even a cheap $60 one can keep your rechargeable stuff going for days during a power outage.

If you have a car, a power inverter might be a good thing to consider as well. Your car should be able to charge your laptop with the engine idling, but don't jeopardize the charge on your car battery just to make your laptop run for another few hours.

Also, keep in mind that switching your phone from 3G mode to EDGE will greatly extend battery life, solely at the expense of data speed.

Finally, the best resource I've found for keeping an eye on Irene's strength and predicted storm track is Google's Crisis Response page.

#101 ::: debio ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:35 PM:

Dave Bell @65

I would recommend anyone use Mudsock, or Mushclient or the like. Using straight telnet is a pain for this. Mudsock and Mushclient are more forgiving of typoes and the like than telnet.

Connecting shouldn't be a problem, but if anyone has difficulty figuring out what to do after that, please let me know.

Look for Grumny.

communications commands:
who - shows who is logged on
gossip - global, anyone logged on will hear
tell - direct person to person
say - anyone nearby will hear

e.g. gossip Hello, my name is Dave. Debio sent me.

Everyone logged on will see that.

My apologies if Making light is full of Mudders, and this explanation is unnecessary.

#102 ::: Debio ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:41 PM:

Jaque @98

If I see anyone logging in, I will come help you. It might take me a minute though, my two year old is doing his morning, breakfast, get jam all over everything activities.

#103 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 05:53 PM:

Debio @102: Yay, jammin' 2yo! Spread the love! :)

(Note to self: ML not telnet. RETURN doesn't post comment. Ahem.)

#104 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 06:06 PM:

This survivor of the 1971 Cannikin-bomb-test-day Aleutian Islands storm [150 mph plus] wants to add my best-wishes and concern and my hopes that all here will come out of this all right. Thanks to you all who are being more helpful than this.
Here in Pugetropolis I am safe--until the Big One hits. I have a very strong table I built to crawl under and water bottles also but still need spare CPAP machine and battery to run same.
You ever think of making all those emergency and 1st aid posts into a book of some kind?

#105 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 06:15 PM:

Here's a fairly comprehensive index of related ML posts. Only works with electricity + Intart00bz, though, of course. (Which makes me wonder about an easy and practical way to dump the content of all the linked threads into PDF for POD. Hm....(ponders possibilities, having just discovered the joys of the curl command in UNIX....)

Appropos of which, should this thread be added to the Emergency Prep section?

#106 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 06:32 PM:

You ever think of making all those emergency and 1st aid posts into a book of some kind?

Yes, indeed. I've even started it (and it's over 100,000 words right now, just with my words alone). Some editing required.

The only thing I have to add of mine is the Cloverfield post, then Teresa's posts, then over to Doyle to edit.

It'll be a e-book when done, I think.

#107 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 06:33 PM:

#106: Cool!

#108 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 06:35 PM:

My thoughts and prayers are with you all on the east coast right now.

This is more distressing to me than Katrina was, mostly because I know more people who live in Irene's path.

#110 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 07:10 PM:

Have confirmed brother, uncle, old neighbors safe. Josh has talked to his parents and is now getting in quality playstation time, in case power goes out.

#111 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 07:13 PM:

Jim @ 106, please make the ebook easy to print, especially a few pages at a time. I've cut and pasted and used a few posts for shopping or to-do lists.

Hope everyone in Irene's path does okay. I'll be thinking dry thoughts in your directions.

#112 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 07:18 PM:

NY1 is reporting that the subways and commuter rail won't be running Monday morning and probably not in time for the Monday evening rush hour. The MTA plans to inspect all the tracks in daylight. Yes, that's what it says; how that's relevant to all the underground parts of the system I don't know.

There's nothing about this on the MTA website, but they took a couple of hours to post about the planned shutdown, after they'd told the press and the news was out there.

I'm contemplating bus routes, on the assumption that at least some of those will be running, but am likely to stay home.

#113 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 07:24 PM:

Linkmeister @99, it was built in 1988. So if the smoke detector's original, it's well over 20 years old. I'd never encountered wired residential smoke detectors before this house, but then I don't go around checking everyone's smoke detector when I visit them. Maybe newer homes all have wired ones.

Either way, I certainly hope it's a requirement now for wired smoke detectors to have battery backups. I'd really prefer mine to work even if my power's out. I'd like to replace it on that basis alone.

(I know this isn't directly hurricane related, but having working smoke detectors is baseline emergency-preparedness in any situation. Especially important when power's out and people are using candles.)

#114 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 07:41 PM:

Mockingly sunny and warm in Portland, OR.

I've been alternating between watching cable news coverage of the storm and viewing silly crap like a 1940 movie serial (Superman versus Atom Man). An interesting mix!

Still haven't heard from my sister on LI, who I hope has made plans and is battened down. Huntington is far from either shoreline, but there are lots of trees around.

Hmmm. And my cousin's restaurant is across the street from the shoreline in Newbury, MA, on an inlet off the ocean. yikes!

#115 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 07:47 PM:

Battery powering your CPAP. Probably too late for this disaster, but I didn't remember it earlier.

#116 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 08:01 PM:

Looking at the map it occurs to me to wonder what's the correlation between the speed of the wind around the hurricane and the speed at which the hurricane travels? Does one of them speed up as the other slows down? Reading the projected path it looks like the storm is moving faster as it weakens but it's hard for me to tell.

#117 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 08:02 PM:

CathiBea Stevenson, #100: We have one of those UPS devices, and it only occurred to us late this morning that we should really charge its battery. Maybe the power will hold on long enough for it to fully charge!

We also have four (4) fully-charged MacBooks of varying vintage, and two different battery-powered MiFi-ish internet thingies, so we may patch through at least part of the Impending Outage before reverting to cannibalism. (As one does.)

#118 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 08:31 PM:

pnh @117 Oh thank god, you'll have an internet connection! Unless, of course, the cell towers go down.

#119 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 08:36 PM:

Which is why we have pay-as-you-go MiFi from multiple providers. (Yes, I know sometimes it's the same tower. And that it's possible none of this stuff will work, as we vanish beneath an unprecedented storm surge out of New York Harbor. Don't mourn, orga--*blub*

#121 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 09:13 PM:

Written and then premiered on Jumel Terrace an hour ago:

Love, C.

#122 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 09:26 PM:

And here in Oklahoma the sun is down, it's 8:30 and still 100 degrees. I'd wish for Irene to send some wet our way, except she would have to stomp over a bunch other people to get here.

#123 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 09:29 PM:

Maryland, north of DC, and mostly suffering rain with moderate to fresh breezes (Beaufort 4,5) around here. The rain is coming down fast enough to generate ponding on the lawn, but it's not pouring all the time. The dogs, however, have made it quite clear that they Do Not Approve of such wetness outside.

The FG and I are settled in for the night here, with lots of supplies and are reading Master and Margarita. The Son is with the Ex, and we shall see what the morning brings.

#124 ::: Lori R. Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:16 PM:

All is calm and tranquil in Central Ohio. But my brother lives in Vienna, Virginia. He had to work today, so we don't know what time he might make it home.

We've called and left a message on his cellphone, and are hoping to hear from him in the morning. As he has a ground floor apartment in an area that has known floods, we're a litte worried.

I'm getting ready for bed here, but keeping the candles lit -- I even broke out the prayer wheel today...

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well...

#125 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 10:40 PM:

Study / living room air conditioner removed as water was leaking in below it. This is the air conditioner that the firemen damaged last month -- functional, but expendable. The window is closed now.

I am trying to get Josh to pause his game and watch a dumb Western with me. He suggested we watch a smart one instead. I am good with that.

#126 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2011, 11:08 PM:

NYC report: I just finished the walk from work (just below Times Square) to the boyfriend's place (~Carnegie Hall). As of 20 minutes ago, a bunch of Canadians were playing a shirts-versus-skins hockey game in Times Square. Judging by the matching shorts-jerseys-shoes I'd say they're a team visiting from Vancouver (with flames on their jerseys) and staying in one of the nearby hotels. I stood and watched for a few minutes -- hey, shirtless guys in the rain, how could I not -- and as the runoff got deeper on the blue-painted surface of the Times Square pedestrian mall the athletes fell down more often and the bright orange ball started to kick up an impressive fantail as it scudded along. Everyone seemed to be having a grand time.

#127 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 12:22 AM:

"Out here there've been mutterings about new rules potentially requiring that all builders wire new houses internally for smoke detectors."

Which is a bad idea if, say, the fire starts in the garage under the breaker box. This apparently happened to my brother-in-law. (They got out due to helpful neighbors.)

We actually removed our wired-in detector entirely because it worked far too well while our stove hood doesn't at all. And our Extra Bonus Feature is that the hood, non-functional microwave, electric range, and oven are all of a piece, which means we can't just replace the hood, something which would be a few hundred dollars at most. No, we've got to replace the whole thing, which is ludicrous as the parts we really need to work do work and we know to cook at a lower temperature to keep the room from getting smoky. Anyway. We do have several nice little battery-operated detectors. I much prefer ones that don't rely on external power.

#128 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 12:31 AM:

Still awaiting Western, but have now pulled off the shelves RPG books I can bear to part with, which means all of the full sized RPGs that were on the floor are now on the shelves. I still need to do something about the digest sized RPGs and the regular books, mostly paperbacks. There are a few more books coming in from WorldCon, but I'm just not so pushed to make space for those just yet.

It probably helps that Josh's request for an "us" shelf has resulted in half a column's worth of trade-or-hardback books. Unsurprisingly, most of the "us" shelf is anthologies. Lots of Tesseracts, Shelf Life, Green Man, Teeth, Naked Cities, Best and Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Fairy Reel, Interfictions, Firebirds, Salon Fantastique, Hugo Winners omnibus of Vols I and II, Shelf Life, Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, Science Fiction Hall of Fame, a couple of the Hartwells' Year's Best Fantasy, one of their Year's Best Science Fiction, Murder for Revenge, and probably stuff I'm not seeing behind what I do see. Strahan's stuff is either read by me (and so not on the Us shelf) or being read by me.

We also have the unread Catherynne Valente (mostly her poetry), Edward Whittemore's stuff, Tim Powers' Bible Repairman, Michael Swanwick's Dragons of Babel, and whatever I'm not seeing because everything is double stacked.

#129 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 12:37 AM:

@127 - Every wired-in system I've ever seen still uses a backup battery in every unit, as well as a central one for the system. Just today, a friend of mine up in Dutchess County (NY) was complaining that any renovation requiring a permit also requires retrofitting. So, his $1k window widening would suddenly cost an extra $3k for a detector system.

#130 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 01:12 AM:

@109: Flatiron with boarded up windows at street level

Yeah, those curved panes on the prow have got to be seriously expensive to replace.

Janet Brennan Croft @122: And here in Oklahoma the sun is down, it's 8:30 and still 100 degrees. I'd wish for Irene to send some wet our way, except she would have to stomp over a bunch other people to get here.

Verily. Only 80° here at 11pm, but all I've managed to do today is sit around and sweat. We're at least finally getting some cooling breezes. (Out of the west, oddly enough.) Out here, rain=cooler. Does that equation hold back east?

Seen on Twitter: Anyone who says "stay away from windows" does not understand how small most NYC apartments are.

Instacane appears to be sort of photo-twitter for Irene.

#132 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 01:24 AM:

As Xopher said, I'm sheltering in place in Hoboken with my four cats. Our building is in the equivalent of Zone A, but my flat is a storey and a half up from the street. It's 60 feet long by 25 wide, with windows only on the long ends, so while you can see the living room windows from the kitchen and dining room, they are quite far from them. If it gets really bad I can hide in the bathroom or the building hallway.

I moved my car this afternoon to the equivalent of Zone C across town. It could still take damage from wind-carried projectiles, but it probably won't flood over there. Earlier, with help from a friend, I secured the furniture in the shared back yard as best I could, and brought some smaller items inside along with all of the garbage cans.

I have an incredible variety of water vessels, including the bathtubs, and made several noodle casseroles (mac & cheese etc.) this afternoon in case the water and power go out. I do have a gas stove, but I won't want to use my water for boiling noodles if the tap supply fails. I have plenty of other food as well, and was tempted by a friend into buying some Oreos as essential hurricane supply. I snitched Xopher's hand-crank radio (with his permission) out of his flat since he left it behind. Haven't needed it yet though.

So far we've had lots of rain but the wind is just recently gusting a bit; it's still pretty calm. Cats and I are bored.

#133 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 01:38 AM:

May we all stay bored. Please.

#134 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 01:55 AM:

Crashing now.

May we all be well.

In a pinch, call on Saint Barbara.

#135 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 02:20 AM:

Well typhoon Nanmadol has just finished killing some people in the Philippines by causing landslides and washouts. So what's the slope stability on the east coast like?

#136 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 04:18 AM:

#130: Seen on Twitter: Anyone who says "stay away from windows" does not understand how small most NYC apartments are.

Amen. Josh and I have been highly dubious about our ability to stay away from all windows. Where on Twitter was this?

#137 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 04:18 AM:

#130: Seen on Twitter: Anyone who says "stay away from windows" does not understand how small most NYC apartments are.

Amen. Josh and I have been highly dubious about our ability to stay away from all windows. Where on Twitter was this?

#138 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 04:33 AM:

Lisa Padol @136: Where on Twitter was this?

@yrstrulyREL, retweeted by Patrick. She also said: "Who doesn't have windows: people in newsrooms."

#139 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 06:28 AM:

Of course this advice is too damn late to be helpful, but for future reference, Macbook owners might want to buy (a) the Apple magsafe airline adapter, and (b) a car booster battery -- the kind with jump leads and a big lead-acid cell from which you can jump-start your car.

Reason: the car booster batteries I've owned all have a car 12 volt DC outlet (cigarette lighter socket). And the Apple magsafe airline adapter has an adapter that lets it run off a car 12 volt DC supply (as well as the old and now rare airline supply that isn't 110 volts AC). This means you can charge or run any post-2005 Apple laptop off the car starter brick ... and a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests my crappy small starter brick will run a Macbook Pro for around 72 hours.

#140 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 06:43 AM:

Well, to make all the soggy people feel a little bit better, I'll let you know that here in central Arizona's Phoenix metro area, it's been so friggin' sunny that the afternoon temperatures have been running in the hundred-and-teens.

Yesterday, Saturday afternoon, we actually had the electricity flicker several times. I'm presuming this was because every A/C unit in town was working at maximum capacity. I don't recall ever seeing this happen before.

#141 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 06:57 AM:

And the #1 Rule for Disaster Preparedness is:

Always Have A Book Handy.

(photo from American Red Cross)

#142 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 07:03 AM:

All the best, guys and gals.

#143 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 07:09 AM:

A PS to my #139: the reason I recommend a car booster battery rather than a UPS is that they tend to contain much bigger batteries -- and they're around the same price, if not cheaper than a UPS.

Good luck to everybody!

#144 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 07:09 AM:

Awake. Drains still draining. Basement still dry. Power still on. Fingers still crossed. Since the center of the storm won't pass us until 10-11 AM, we're not counting on any of these things staying true. But at least night is over--if we lose power, it will be with some natural light to stumble around by.

High tide is about an hour from now. Rooting for the surge to not overtop lower Manhattan's seawall and dump into the subway system.

#145 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 07:12 AM:

Great advice, Charlie. In fact I even own one of those car-cigarette-lighter-to-IOS-device adapters. Never occurred to me that I could buy a car battery even without owning a car. (I'm obscurely reminded of the late Jenna Felice, the most completely urban human I ever knew. Discovering that you could buy a door at Home Depot, her first reaction was "I thought you had to be, like, a super to buy a door.")

#146 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 07:59 AM:

Be well, you all in New York. The storm is over here (Richmond VA). We're lucky--our power isn't even out (about half the metro area's power is). Strong winds, and rain from heavy to very heavy, from about 2PM to midnight--but we and everyone we know are fine.

#147 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 08:10 AM:

According a friend of mine, NY had another earthquake yesterday but it was a 2.9. I have to ask him where he found the information on the after shock.

He told me about this website, which details all sorts of disasters worldwide.

Otherwise at Woodside's Big Six Towers: the windows we put in two years ago really do block sound. Haven't heard wind at all overnight. We still have power.

#148 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 08:32 AM:

Patrick @145: As the "CPAP at Pennsic" link upthread suggests, you probably want a marine or deep-discharge cell rather than a car battery, the latter being designed for short, high-power bursts such as a car needs to start, rather than the steady low-power draw your Macbook has.

(As an aside, the link doesn't talk about it in these terms, but I think of myself as a cyborg these days, and I'm slowly getting used to needing to be plugged in nights. Still a bit odd to add "120V AC" to the list of things I quite literally can't live without. I'm sure many others here have had similar experiences.)

Today I'm helping pass information between the amateur radio nets in the greater Boston area and Boston emergency services -- this is the first such exercise I've ever done and apparently the first time the local amateur radio people have worked this closely with emergency services. Nothing like the deep end of the pool to teach you to swim, I guess! Wish me luck.

For my part, I'm wishing safety, dryness, and general good tidings to everybody. We'll get through this yet.

#149 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 08:33 AM:

Here in Mont. County MD it's all over except light rain and a hell of a lot of power line trucks. We got lucky this time and got our power back about 40 minutes ago. There was a construction site collapse at Georgetown U but nobody was hurt.

storm surge as seen at the Battery

#150 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:19 AM:

Andrew Willett @126: The shirtless men you saw are probably in town for the 2011 World Police and Fire Games. I ran into a team myself, in the 23rd Street subway station, Friday, morning, heading down to the Battery. I remember thinking, "hope you aren't pressed into disaster relief work."

#151 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:28 AM:

Also in Montgomery Co., MD: never lost power but did get a power surge around 3:30 am (reset the clocks, darnit).

Standing water on my front lawn; lots of leaves and twigs. I guess i can drain one of my bathtubs now. After letting out the dogs at 6 am, i went back to sleep; now it's time for breakfast (oatmeal, bacon, coffee/tea). The cats are meowing and the dogs are barking for theirs first.

#152 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:39 AM:

I'm waiting to hear from my colleagues who are flying back to Europe from a professional conference. Some of them, I know, are flying via Dulles. I don't think they are at risk of their lives, but I hope they do not have too many bad experiences with the airlines.

#153 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:06 AM:

Melissa @ 150: I wonder if they're the firefighters sharing a hotel with the Teamsters Woman's Conference, which also daw no need to cancel just because of a hurricane. (I had a somewhat strong reaction to learning my mom, one of my relatives who I actually knew lived nowhere near the storm, had headed into it for same.)

#154 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:09 AM:

Power was out (or surged, as Ginger @ 151 notes) for less than an hour around midnight. Cable is misbehaving now, but as have DVDs and internet is DSL am not hugely inconvenienced. It has stopped raining. Best of good fortune to New York and New England. I hope Irene wasn't going easy on us so she'd have more to give you.

#155 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:21 AM:

Another report from Montgomery County MD. Our power went off around midnight and came back around 3:00. My daughter was texting with a friend in another part of the neighborhood and reported that their power went off shortly after ours came back. Went to church this morning; small to medium branches down but nothing disastrous right around us - caution tape blocking off one neighborhood road with a utility truck visible down it, so branches probably took out power lines there. The church, which sits on the boundary of the neighborhood and the commercial district and apparently gets power from both sides, had power to some things but not to others.

We had been at Chincoteague earlier in the week and not scheduled to leave there until today. Obviously we came home early. Hope things came out okay there for the town and for the wildlife refuge.

#156 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:34 AM:

Also in Montgomery County, MD; lost power briefly overnight, but it was back on when we woke up (I only know it was off because the clocks had reset). My brother a couple miles away is still without power. One large limb off a tree, fallen into the neighbors' yard; otherwise no damage. I can probably drain the bathtub now so I can take a shower.

We got lucky.

#157 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:46 AM:

Patrick quotes Jenna Felice saying: "I thought you had to be, like, a super to buy a door."

Look, there in aisle 3! It's...

Drillman and Chuck-key Boy!

#158 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:50 AM:

It's basically over here (Manhattan) though I'm staying in a bit longer in case of high winds toppling trees. 6.7 inches of rain in Central Park from Irene--on top of saturated soil from what was already tied for wettest August on record.

August 2011 is the wettest month (not just wettest August) here and in Philadelphia, and possibly other places on the East Coast.

Tropical Storm Jose (which formed overnight from a patch of weather that they had been labeling as "near zero percent chance" of a tropical storm) is headed toward Bermuda. I suspect Jeff Masters is right and they'll be pulling out the Greek alphabet again; with luck, most will be relatively weak and stay over water, like storms A-H this year.

#159 ::: Xopher, on the Lam ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:55 AM:

Power went off in Hoboken earlier. Residents are being directed to stay indoors because of downed live power lines in the flood water. Lenore is still doing fine, moving stuff to coolers etc.

The weather guy on CNN was saying that now that the former eye (see below) of Tropical Storm Irene (YAY!) has passed north of the NYC area, there will be some more wind from the back end (stop snickering), but not a lot more rain, because the wind is blowing from the relatively dry air mass over the land, not the wet air mass over the ocean. That makes sense and I hope he's right.

They say that North Carolina took the brunt of Irene, and her time there is what messed up her eye, which never really got reorganized. That was why she had the pressure differential to be a Category 3, but despite that wasn't able to sustain Cat3 winds.

Out here in Morristown, just a lot of rain. Hardly even that now. Didn't even hear any significant wind.

May it be so, and may points north of us have similarly better-than-expected experiences.

#160 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:59 AM:

Xopher, on the lam @ 159... there will be some more wind from the back end (stop snickering)

This reminds me it's been a long time since I read Le Guin's "The Fartest Shore".

#161 ::: Pere ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 11:14 AM:

Thank you tons for the links. My aunt is in Edgewater, where she refused to evacuate, and I didn't know where to get links more specific than 'NY' or 'NJ'.

Sending good thoughts and white light to everyone.

#162 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 11:21 AM:

Over at dKos, yesterday afternoon, Darksyde was showing how Irene was pulling in a lot of dry (or drier) air on the southwest side, which was what took her down to Cat1 so quickly and all but killed her going up the coast.

#164 ::: siriosa ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 12:34 PM:

May Irene's passage over New England (and Canada!) be as gentle or gentler. This is the first place I checked when I woke up.

#165 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 01:11 PM:

It's been wet and windy in central Maine but not much different than your typical autumn storm. Estimate gusting to Beaufort 5-6 (small trees and branches thrashing around, a few leaves and twigs down) but sustained wind is not more than Beaufort 3 (wiggling leaves and twigs); bands of intermittently heavy rain and no power outage so far.

The cats are offended that we have closed the windows, of course.

#166 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 01:28 PM:

Nothing much happened here; rain, ordinary flooding, 10 hours of power loss [freezer was never opened, kept the cold well, nothing thawed.]

#167 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 02:16 PM:

Glad to hear that y'all are alive and well and relatively dry, and that the storm was less powerful than feared. Fingers crossed that all who have lost power get it back quickly.

And fingers also crossed that New England escapes the worst of it today. New England Fluorospherians, check in when you can, ok?

It turns out that Durham, NC was just beyond the outer edge of the storm. Raleigh got a lot more rain and wind. The Outer Banks are flooded and many roads are impassable. Hatteras Island is cut off from the mainland. See WRAL's summary here.

I will be keeping the canned food and bottled water against any other hurricanes, and then against the possibility of ice storms.

The Saga of the Beeping Smoke Detector was resolved this morning. Keith, poking around the smoke detector again, idly observed "Wow, the acoustics in here almost make it sound like the beeping is coming from somewhere else."

At which point I remembered that we have a battery-powered CO alarm (purchased at the urging of Jim Macdonald) sitting on top of a nearby bookshelf. Yup -- it was the CO alarm batteries all along. I replaced them and all is well. Will now be setting my calendar to remind me to replace batteries periodically.

I did purchase a replacement hard-wired smoke detector with battery backup this morning, though. It's almost certainly time to replace the thing anyway, and I really would like a battery backup. But since the current smoke detector is still operational, I felt like I could wait for shipping, so I bought the new one on Amazon to save a few bucks. I bought the model highest-rated in Consumer Reports, the Kidde PI2010, with dual photoelectric and ionization sensors and a 9V battery backup.

#168 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 02:33 PM:

#157 ::: Niall McAuley

Patrick quotes Jenna Felice saying: "I thought you had to be, like, a super to buy a door."

Look, there in aisle 3! It's...

Drillman and Chuck-key Boy!

One of them is Stanley Lufkin.

#169 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 02:47 PM:

It's raining hard here, and has been all morning. Everything else is at baseline.

(And glad you have a CO detector, Caroline.)

It's good to have a drill before the big one comes along.

#170 ::: Xopher, on the Lam ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 02:51 PM:

Power is still out in Hoboken, and streets are still floody near where I live. PSE&G is saying it could be 5-7 DAYS before power is restored. Compare ConEd saying NYC will be back up completely by Tuesday.

Something's definitely wrong with how PSE&G is doing, or has done things.

#171 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 03:19 PM:

Xopher @ 170: Our experience over the past couple years here in Maryland suggests that if a utility lags significantly behind utilities in neighboring jurisdictions, the people will raise a hue and cry and the governments will start demanding answers. This time Pepco is pretty much in line with Dominion, BG&E, et al, which in previous storms has not at all been the case. Don't know what kind of accountability you can expect from PSE&G, but hopefully it's some ...

#172 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 03:25 PM:

Jacque (130):"Anyone who says "stay away from windows" does not understand how small most NYC apartments are."

Yea, verily. We closed the blinds and curtains on my sister's studio apartment in Brooklyn, but that was about the best we could do.
All is well here. Storm seems to have passed, although wind is still strong and we might get more bands of rain.

I called my friend-and-neighbor, the one who stayed in our building instead of evacuating. She reports that at about 7:30 this morning, a two-foot surge came up the street. Her SUV, parked halfway up the lot, had water to the middle of its hubcaps. My little car would have drowned! My storm door blew off (no real surprise there; it tends to flap in the wind if not securely latched) and is now in the super's utility room.

I won't be going home before tomorrow morning. Roads are still bad--my street was still flooded as of a couple of hours ago--and they're asking people to stay off the roads. My boss wants to reopen the library at 11:00 AM. He's nuts. (I suspect the building flooded a little, but I don't actually know yet.)

#173 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 03:34 PM:

Down here in Raleigh we got off fortunate; a 30' long limb, about 5" thick at the base, snapped off a tree and missed the house by about 2 feet. It smashed some of my hot pepper plants but hit nothing else. Other than gutters and a yard full of twigs and leaves, which I've already cleaned up, that was it.

This storm is going to provide research data and papers for years to come. Why it didn't remain a Cat 3 storm as it crossed the Gulf Stream, how it kept its strength all the way from NC to NY, and why the west side remained cohesive and strong are all questions the researchers will be trying to answer.

The early explanation I saw for why Irene lost strength as it approached NYC was that the jet stream pulled the strongest winds so far away from the eye that they could no longer keep feeding energy back around the storm, much like what usually happens after a hurricane makes landfall.

#174 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 03:36 PM:

Been seeing elsewhere a batch of pictures of large urban trees blown over in the Boston area. Damage to houses and cars from that; no sign of people being hurt, but it's possible. Apparently they're from the Boston Fire Dept's Twitter feed.

#175 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 03:51 PM:

Bunch of trees blown over/fallen in NYC and LI, too. It's mostly the big ones; they get waterlogged and their roots pull right out of the saturated ground. It doesn't even have to be windy when they fall. Officials are warning that more could still go, even though the storm is (mostly) passed.

#176 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 03:51 PM:

Irene may be weakening but she ain'tn't dead yet.

We've had power flicker but not lost it yet. The way the trees are whipping around out there, someone's going to lose electricity around here before the night is over. Center of circulation is still somewhere south and west of here according to NWS radar, observed winds are slowly shifting from E to SE as expected and will probably be SSW before this thing blows through.

The rain is tapering off somewhat - we've had maybe a couple of inches, but it's hard to tell because the pool is full of blown leaves, and pretty sloshy.

We're 240' above sea level (and the river) so flooding is an apocalyptically small concern up here.

-- okay, that's weird: watery sunlight breaking thru the clouds while the trees at ground level are bent nearly double with the wind. Don't think I've seen that before.

#177 ::: Jon Lennox ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 04:07 PM:

Xopher @170: PSE&G's 5-7 days is their timeframe for restoring power to their entire area in suburban New Jersey. I imagine ConEd will be a similar amount of time restoring service to all of Westchester, or LIPA to Long Island.

New Jersey also took the storm harder, further south.

#178 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 04:48 PM:

Irene's big power "problem" was that it started sucking dry air in as soon as it hit land. It actually stopped raining in Long Island long before it stopped here.

Northern NJ is a field of record flash flooding so I'm not surprised they have lots of power problems there. We got off lucky on the rain; most of it fell on the eastern shore.

The national cathedral reports that they had some trees knocked down but that the buildings came through OK.

#179 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 04:56 PM:

Overnight I kept my windows closed (of course) and I didn't hear the storm at all. This afternoon I've opened a few windows and, boy, it's still quite windy. There's a strong breeze coming in the living room windows and I had to close the bedroom window because the wind was so strong (curtains flying a few feet from the window) and the whistle was so loud. Irene may be gone but she has a long-lasting after effect.

#180 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 04:59 PM:

Glad to hear this turned out so much milder than it could have been.

#181 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 05:43 PM:

It was quiet here. Slept with a weather ear for wind, and never heard it.

We spent time on Fri-Sat analysing maps to see if we needed to worry about flooding (not really). Had to explain to some people why we weren't evacuating (some of whom could have checked the map, and seen we lived outside the mandatory evac zone, and heading to their place, which was in/out (borderline to mandatory, but lived above the floors being evacuated anywhere).

Saw the back-end losing force, and was pretty sure it wouldn't be too bad, but got even less than we expected.

The sun is breaking through, and this morning was kids being taken to fly kites in the parking lot across the street.
I still prefer earthquakes.

#182 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 06:34 PM:

As far as NJ vs NYC: We have a lot of trees growing over and near power lines. NYC... less so.

It's also possible that PSE&G have their heads up their butts. I don't know anything about their service one way or the other.

#183 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 06:40 PM:

Philadelphia didn't have so good.

Vermont is getting pounded from what we understand here.
We're right at the end of the back swash bands; these frequent and fierce gust squalls should be over in another hour.

I'm grateful our city and state had this opportunity to test their emergency response and plans in this lesser Bullet, and that they all had the managerial capacity, i.e. professionalism and political responsibility, to coordinate mayor, governor and federal organizations, from the city's response teams, to the National Guard and Homeland Security's FEMA stations to provide rescue and assistance. This is a case of government doing it right and doing what it is supposed to do.

Two days to evacuate the nursing homes and and hospitals and other such institutions in the A zones was the minimum amount of time it could be accomplished successfully. It turned out to be true. The mayor and governor coordinating and then Obama's people coordinating with them, allowed for a state of emergency to be declared, allowing the mayor to declare mandatory emergency evacuation -- and the people were taken to safer places, and done without panicking.

What was it MacDonald said? "Having a plan is better than having things?" The bigger the emergency the more true it is.

Now they also know what didn't work, though they probably won't tell us.

Love, C.

#184 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 06:43 PM:

Notification Tower Justice numeration -- Ooops, my comment just held for review. Our intertoobes are being pretty spotty over here.

Love, c.

#185 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 07:14 PM:

I'm okay, though I lack power, landline, and web. We lost some beautiful old trees, but no other major damage AFAIK.

#186 ::: Xopher, on the Lam ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 08:47 PM:

Jon 177: You're absolutely right; I heard that after my previous post, which I basically have to take back entirely, especially since the power is back on in at least my part of Hoboken, and has been for several hours.

Going home in the morning.

#187 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:07 PM:

In Somerville, MA, lots of fallen trees, traffic lights not working, some but not all shops closed. I was able to do my laundry when I feared I wasn't.

#188 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:21 PM:

Sunnyside / Woodside border area in Queens seems to have weathered this one all right. We crashed out at 6:30 am and woke up around noonish. We even went out for dinner.

We had a combination of good luck and good planning here. I'm hoping the folks still in the path of the storm will have an easier time of it and that points south will be able to recover quickly. Come to that, I want NYC to recover quickly, too.

#189 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:38 PM:

Vermont is in really rough shape. Several of the historic covered bridges have been wholly or partially washed away. Downtown Brattleboro, VT, is severely flooded.

Western MA fared only slightly better. Historic Deerfield is badly flooded, and the Bridge of Flowers in Shelbourne Falls was seen to be cracking prior to being submerged. Haven't heard if it's made it or not, but certainly the beautiful gardens on top of the bridge won't have. Several towns are evacuating, and the Connecticut River is rising faster than projected and is already substantially over flood stage and still rising. There is word that a few area dams are in trouble. Parts of I-91 and Rt. 2 are closed because of flooding.

In short, it's a mess out here. Laura and Emma are likely to have to make some detours to get where they need to, but if they get stuck, they hopefully already know how to reach me.

(Bartonsville covered bridge going)

#190 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:40 PM:

Erik Nelson @187: Oh yeah, I'd forgotten you were over by my buddy Matt. He reports similar conditions.

I'm grateful everybody appears to have come through safe and relatively undamaged.

Boulder finally got a whiff of weather in the form of just enough rain to dampen the sidewalks, and noticably cooler temperatures. It should be noted that "cooler" does not mean "cold," however.

I'm also relieved that the official responses came off in a generally organized fashion, with a minimum of officious fuck-up-ery.

#191 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:43 PM:

Suzanne @189: Very sorry to hear that. Is this because you guys caught what the weathercasters are calling the "dirty side" of the storm?

#192 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:49 PM:

Jacque @191: I'm not entirely sure, I think it's likely a combination of getting ridiculous quantities of rain combined with us having already had a pretty steadily wet summer and being hilly enough that it all runs towards low areas, but I'm still a bit surprised by the magnitude of the flooding.

#193 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:49 PM:

NY's MTA has a special replacement web page with commentary of what is running and what isn't. Some trains will be back in the morning. Some buses are running now but that list has changed a few times over the last 4 or 5 hours. It might be possible that most buses will be running in the morning.

#194 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:54 PM:

Family members in upstate NY report constant drenching rain and power outages.

My sister and her husband spent hours fiddling with pumps and hoses keeping the waters at bay, and succeeded.

Despite generators and multiple pumps, my parents got a foot of water in their basement. Not the first time by a long shot, and not the worst, but they've had enough and will look to be moving. I wouldn't mind, but they just put in a beautiful porch.

#195 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:55 PM:

Oh, it's also worth noting, for those people concerned about flooding of rivers in their area, that the "WunderMap" on Weather Underground has a USGS River checkbox that'll show you more info about rivers w/ links to current data.

#196 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 09:57 PM:

That constant rain over the summer thing is the killer with a hurricane/tropical storm coming in in the early fall.

that is heartbreaking about Vermont. those bridges have been there a long time.

My thoughts are with you all there. And I think for those in the flatter parts of New Jersey, this crap is not going away quickly. Just like all our flooding this summer.

#197 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:26 PM:

Almost every other school system in the area has enough sense to close for tomorrow, but not ours, even though they have twenty-three schools without power.

#198 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 10:48 PM:

Caroline #167: A traditional time to replace fire-alarm batteries is at both Daylight Savings days (that is, spring and fall). I assume that would do fine for the CO detector too.

#199 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2011, 11:07 PM:

As Xopher said, our neighborhood in Hoboken lost power for about 12 hours today. It came back up at 5:30 pm, just as I was getting ready to swap batteries in my cell phone to a fresh one. My cell coverage was also on roam for much of the day.

Winds were strong enough this afternoon (after I opened the windows again) to slam unpropped doors. Our street is flooded at the corners, near the storm drains, and anyone with a basement will have flooding (our building doesn't). The next street over is flooded right up and over the sidewalks, even in the middle of the block. We like to call it Lake Jackson Street after every storm, but it's never been more true.

There is a lot of flooding elsewhere in Hoboken as well. We get hit whenever rain or storm surges come over high tide, as we can't drain our excess water into the Hudson River when the river (actually, of course, a tidal estuary) is higher than our drains! Hoboken is finally in the process of acquiring a pump to try to fix this problem, but it won't be ready for a couple of months yet. Fortunately it's not the sort of flooding that washes away bridges - just the sort that messes up basements. It can be dangerous to individuals who try to walk through it when there are live wires around, of course, as there were today.

I haven't tried to go see my car yet. It's 11 blocks away with flooding in between. I hope nothing fell on it.

I'm glad others here seem to be okay.

#200 ::: Heather K ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:11 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz and I came through okay except for some minor flooding in the basement.

Now for a bit of humor, this has got to be the silliest story to come out of the storm: "Pair Arrested For ‘Lack Of Common Sense’ After Rafting Down Main Street In Manayunk"

#201 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:50 AM:

The link Heather K. meant to post is here -- I Googled it, though that was partly because I was curious about where Manayunk is. A newscast I was watching a while ago had the caption "Manayunk County, PA" and I knew that was wrong (I had to memorize the names of all the counties in Pennsylvania once in school) -- I thought it might be a township or something, but being from the Pittsburgh area I don't know the eastern part of Pa. well. Turns out it's a neighborhood of Philadelphia. So it's in Philadelphia County. (The city and the county, though technically two entities, are coterminous.)

I think the cops may have overreacted though. The guys weren't actually charged with anything. Apparently "lack of common sense" isn't an actual crime in Pennsylvania, for which I'm glad.

#202 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:50 AM:

Heather K's link is munged. Try this one:

#203 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:31 AM:

Boston got about an inch of rain.

I was busily helping my brother pack, up in Ringe (NH). He's moving on Wednesday -- he'd been scheduled to load the van on Sunday, so luckily, we dissuaded him of that. Anyway, so it was rain rain rain (and wind), but no power outages and no tree tragedies, at least not by us. I think I heard they had 5 inches of rain by about noon on Sunday, but I might've gotten that wrong.

I think my parents have lost power over in Dedham (MA) -- we drove by there on the way to drop me off at my own place, and about half the town seemed out.

#204 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 06:36 AM:

Several major roads are closed in New Hampshire due to flooding and washouts.

#205 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 07:10 AM:

Heather K #200: And exactly what is wrong with breaking out a rubber raft during a flood?

Sounds more like "arrested for daring to have fun".

#206 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 07:36 AM:

Anyone who's been to the Outer Banks knows about NC 12, the only road down to Cape Hatteras.

Well, that road is gone north of Rodanthe. About 800 yards of it has been washed away and a new channel between the Atlantic and the sound is there. There are other, smaller damaged areas on NC 12 further south and up around Duck and Corolla as well.

FEMA and NC response teams have set up emergency ferry service from Stumpy Point to Rodanthe, but it's going to take months to rebuild NC 12.

#207 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 08:43 AM:

John L. @206, yeesh. I used to vacation on Hattaras almost every year as a kid, and I remember well how easily it could get cut off. I'm glad they moved the lighthouse.

#208 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 09:06 AM:

My neighor reports that there were kayakers on our street yesterday. She failed to get pictures, unfortunately.

#209 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 10:37 AM:

John L #206: I know nothing about the context there, but from the sound of that, they might do better just switching to ferries!

#210 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 10:59 AM:

re 209: Hurricanes blowing new inlets in the outer banks happens fairly often (there's a spectacular aerial photo from, I believe, the 1930s) with Drum Inlet having opened naturally three times and closed again each time, the CG helping things along by cutting New Drum Inlet when the main inlet closes up. There have also been Ophelia and Isabel Inlets courtesy of their respective hurricanes. The big inlets move around all the time too. A little one like this is likely to be "fixed" by the CG firing up the dredges and filling it back in.

#211 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:00 AM:

BTW I am already heartily annoyed by the "it wasn't that bad/it was overhyped" meme going around.

#212 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:05 AM:

Last time I bought smoke detectors, I bought the ones that are guaranteed to last 10 years w/o battery replacement. I recommend them.

I'm very glad to hear that all the ML folks and my friends in the east appear to be doing mostly fine, no injuries, no major damage to homes. I'm concerned about some friends in Vermont, though; haven't heard from them.

#213 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:30 AM:

#205: It could also be "Arrested for scaring the crap out of us", like when a parent yells at a kid for that.

#211: Yes, that is my number one annoyance from where I sit. I am infuriated by folks who think this was just hype because we "merely" had a 65-mph tropical storm that didn't do worse damage. I... kind of vented on my blog about that.

#214 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:43 AM:

Further note on the ferries: apparently this sort of thing happens often enough that there is a regular emergency Rodanthe-Stumpy Point emergency route set up.

#215 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:54 AM:

a Charlotte Observer article summarizing the Outer Banks damage -- which was quite bad

#216 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 12:06 PM:

I wouldn't call 19 dead and $10B in damage "overhyped."

Could it have been worse? Yes. You prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

#217 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 12:37 PM:

Re what's wrong with boating in the street: well, if there happen to be live downed power lines or other unseen hazards under the water, you could be setting up a situation wherein someone gets killed trying to rescue you.

#218 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 12:54 PM:

Mr. Macdonald: Yah, once I discovered that a) Brattleboro had been flooded and b) the Kancamugus, 16, and 302 had been closed (are currently still closed?) I got rather less calm about the whole thing.

I was also grumpy because the MBTA got shut down on Sunday, but I eventually realized that given as much of it as not actually a subway, it is therefore exposed to wind and trees, and lo, there were many downed limbs. So. I walk myself back from being a person irritated at the hype.

#220 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:11 PM:

I wouldn't call it "over-hyped"--what happened was much less bad than it could have been.

I am slightly worried that it will lead to complacency the next time, though--I saw the aftermath of both Isabelle and Hugo, and we got off very lightly this time.

#221 ::: Xopher, back home now ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:41 PM:

Back home, everything seems to be fine. There's still ice in the container I put in the refrigerator before leaving, which I'm taking to mean the food (none of which is meat) is probably safe. Actually I think I'll throw out the soysage, which was a little old anyway (bought the week before my surgery, hence about a month old at this point).

The arrangement in plastic and duct tape that I put up in my bathroom either went totally unused, or did its job and has completely dried out, leaving no trace. Lost some ceiling paint taking it down, but c'est la vie.

I was able to remove the masking tape from my windows with minimal residue left behind. If anyone else did this (and I'm going to read up carefully to find out if that's widely considered useless; two people, one of whom I KNOW has been through a hurricane, have told me so), remove the tape slowly and at a steady pace, keeping an angle of 90° between the tape and the window. Every jerk becomes a patch of residue (something I wish were more generally true).

I'm glad we got off easy this time, and I'm glad many of my preparations proved unnecessary (as a seatbelt proves unnecessary every time you don't have an accident), but I don't regret making them.

Except maybe the masking tape, which I'm going to look into.

And btw I'm also going to make a good Go bag and not have to run around forgetting everything in sight next time I need to flee.

#222 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 01:57 PM:

The issue with boating in a street is boats have no brakes.

You can easily run into trouble with moving motor vehicles if the water's shallow enough, drowning hazards like storm drains or fast currents heading under brush or vehicles, or with unexpectedly strong currents and deep water leading to rapids.

Also, that water's going to be full of all kinds of nastiness. Lots of stuff like dog doo, overflowing septic tanks, chemicals, etc. Not exactly something I'd want to get into if I could help it!

#223 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:32 PM:

#218 Kate: Yah, once I discovered that a) Brattleboro had been flooded and b) the Kancamugus, 16, and 302 had been closed (are currently still closed?) I got rather less calm about the whole thing.

I don't know about the Kanc, but parts of 16 and 302 aren't there any more, so I imagine they're still closed.

And Plymouth State College is giving boat tours of the campus.

Photos from around New Hampshire on the WMUR site.

#224 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:32 PM:

James Macdonald @219: I've heard the number as 22 dead (WCBS-AM), with damage estimates from $7Bn-$10BN. Either way, it's serious. Here are some photos that should illustrate, even to the doubters, that this was not an average thundershower.

#225 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:36 PM:

Glad to hear everybody's made it through; sorry to hear about the general glut of damage and rotten conditions. Best wishes to all now putting things back together.

C Wingate @ 211, James @ 216: To everybody except people whose vocation is Monday-morning quarterbacking, one would indeed think that was the point. But possibly journalists amateur and professional have yet to uncover such hot new underground trends as insurance, which might have given them the basic concept?

In a related recent scandal, the UK Met Office warned of serious thunderstorms in my area, yet not one person got struck by lightning! What is wrong with these people?

C Wingate @ 219: Some party ought urgently to explain to certain other Parties else that direct rule by an omnipotent and omniscient Leader is not much of a vision of less government - not even, I say, even if He is delegating the daily grind to a feckless and nescient sibyl.

#226 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:38 PM:

Oops. Sorry. That should be @216.

#227 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:43 PM:

From a New York area perspective, I think this should be considered the definitive song for this hurricane. Sample lyric:

My baby lives in Manhattan,
But the trains are all shut down.
I’d swim across the East River.
But I fear that I might drown.

#228 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:55 PM:

Cygnet #222: OK, good points. I still think that arresting them was an overreaction, though since they weren't actually charged, it's a mild one.

#229 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 02:55 PM:

re 225: I note for Rep. Bachmann's sake that the Stillwater, MN river gage noted historic flood stages around the time she became part of the MN state senate. I'm sure there's a message in this.

And as far as the flooding is concerned, it isn't over yet. The Connecticut is still in flood and is expected to remains so for days. Flooding in Hartford has only begun today.

#230 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 03:08 PM:

xopher: "Every jerk becomes a patch of residue (something I wish were more generally true)."

Heh. On roadways, perhaps?

For the tape residue, you might try Goo Gone.

#231 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 03:11 PM:

I still think that arresting them was an overreaction, though since they weren't actually charged, it's a mild one.

I wonder if alcohol was involved on the part of the boaters.

#232 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 03:24 PM:

On the "was Irene overhyped" question I've been seeing, from what I can tell much of it is coming from "journalists" like Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast and self-proclaimed "pundits."

To them I say "it's your fellow media which did the hyping you're objecting to, particularly the TV part of the media. The government agencies and the responsible politicians (which leaves out Republican Presidential candidates, none of whom have any authority over anything right now) reacted to the data given them and by doing so may have saved a few hundred lives. You'd prefer otherwise?"

#233 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 03:38 PM:

Xopher @ 227 - that's fantastically well done! I've reposted.


#234 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 03:40 PM:

Anyone who thinks Irene was "overhyped", go help Eastern NC, which got up to 20" of rain in 18 hours, or the Outer Banks, where there are now three breaches on NC 12, or NJ, CT, NY, VT, RI and VA, all which suffered flooding, coastal damage and high winds. I've seen death reports up to 35 now atributed to Irene.

I think the NWS is going to retire that name.

#235 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 03:43 PM:

The storm was about what I expected for my particular area (although I note that we've had power out since 10:30 or 11:00 on Saturday night, well in advance of Irene).

As these things go it could have been much worse.

#236 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 03:54 PM:

New Jersey Rescue Squad Member Dies during Water Rescue Attempt

On Sunday, while trying to reach a submerged car that reportedly had someone in it. The car turned out to be empty.

#237 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:03 PM:

The thing people don't get when they complain about overhyping, too, is that a weather forecast isn't "wrong" if the given weather doesn't happen. Weather forecasts are presenting a range of possibilities. There was a reasonable chance this could have been much worse, people prepared for that, and the fact that it wasn't doesn't mean the chance wasn't real, or that people shouldn't prepare just as seriously the next time such a chance arises.

Sometimes I think the biggest thing wrong with our society is we don't understand math well enough to evaluate risk. One child in a million abducted means my child is at risk. Ten out of a million people getting sick eating a particular vegetable means that vegetable is dangerous to us all. One hurricane being milder than feared means all the hurricanes will be milder than feared.

#238 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:19 PM:

Mmm. No sympathy for the "rafters" from me because I know how easy it is to get out of a safe zone into a total danger zone when things are flooded.

My take on the subject is that the death count is low because of the strong reaction; the pity is that it could have been lower if some people had realized that "hurricane winds" does NOT equal "good surfing."

#239 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 04:28 PM:

Jim @223: According to the White Mountain National Forest website, the entire WMNF "will remain closed until further notice". The Kanc is specifically listed as closed.

#240 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 05:03 PM:

I've been through two (fairly small) natural disasters where little to no warning was possible*, and one where a local authority dropped the ball** and made things worse by not issuing warnings fast enough.

I'm glad state and local authorities in the areas affected by Irene had realistic plans and put them into play promptly. I'm glad people living in these affected areas took the warnings they were given seriously (for the most part) and that things, bad as they are in some places, are not as bad as they might have been. The first two of these things are under human control; the third is sheer dumb luck. Only a fool plans on being lucky with any hope of that plan succeeding.

Was it better to halt mass transit, rather than exposing passengers, staff, and equipment to possibly destructive weather? Yes. Was it worth it to evacuate people from areas likely to flood? Yes. Was it worth it to plan to cut off electrical power, if necessary, to keep underground mains from shorting out? Yes. We've spent the last year replacing part of our bus fleet and rebuilding a water intake plant here in Nashville, as the result of a flood, when a little more warning from the area ACE office that they were about to release water from a local dam would have allowed the former to be moved and the latter to be adequately sandbagged. It ain't cheap, folks, even with insurance. Then there are the people who found themselves leaving their homes by boat, and the rest of the damage to homes and businesses.

I'd rather be in Michael Bloomberg's shoes right now that Ray Nagin's in 2005. New York, like a lot of other cities in the US, took the lessons of Katrina to heart, and complaining because they learned those lessons and then applied them when the situation warranted it is stupid, petty, and short-sighted. The people spreading this nonsense should go back to explaining why Tim Tebow would be a great NFL quarterback if the Denver Broncos just believed in him enough (I always think of Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle--"Do you believe in fairies?"). These same people would be fast enough to condemn Bloomberg and the other state and local officials involved all along the East Coast if they hadn't taken the measures they did.

Given the amount of flooding, the death toll reported so far is wonderfully low (Camille, in 1969, had a death toll of 259; Tropical Storm Allison, which caused terrible floods in a fairly small area, had a death toll of 11). This is because of planning and evacuations. Saying "The storm wasn't as bad as predicted, so the plans were worthless" is as stupid and feckless as it gets.

Let's compare this to the other big natural disasters the US had had this year--the floods on the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri, which have not resulted in massive loss of life because of good plans, good execution of those plans, and good communications. They've been a major PITA for people in the affected areas, but as far as most of us are concerned, they're a minor news note--because of planning, execution, and communication.

*An ice storm in 1994 (the roads were never impassable, but we were without power for nearly a month--a lot of fun in February, even a Tennessee February) and a tornado in 1998 (the house was intact but again, no power for a couple of weeks, at least).

**Last May's flood, made worse in some of its effects by massive failure to communicate by people in charge of area dams, as noted above.

#241 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 05:24 PM:

The shorelines of Manhattan, all Zone A of course, did flood. Duh.

The one thing they did wrong is the refusal to evacuate Riker's Island. Bloomberg firmly says there was no plan to evacuate them and there never will be a plan to evacuate them. Recall, Riker's houses many people who aren't convicted or even idicted, people with trials pending, many people whose crimes were jaywalking while black or bicyclists who got up a particular cop's nose that day just because. This must not be allowed to remain policy.

As far as over-hyped? How can you say that when every electrical power person in the world is going: never ever have this many people been off the electrical grid at one time? When 30 people died, and it's not over -- look at Massachusetts and Vermont.

It's like, o well those wicked evil satanic climate changing believers who like art who live in NYC didn't get killed off in mass murder as Irene was supposed to do, so it was an over-hyped storm -- AS IF ONLY NYC MATTERS and the Carolinas, Virgina, New Jersey, New York state, Vermont, New Hampshire, do not.

As it is, home again downtown, and out shopping to replenish the fridge perishables etc., I can see there was some damage even here. And there were sandbagging attempts by some buildings that have basement apartments (like in that ancient movie -- so ancient, that it's before I was born even, My Sister Eileen. I see lots of damaged stuff dragged out of buildings where something happened .... Minor, yes in the context of the deaths, my friends in New Jersey who have to stand in line to get even the water to flush their toilets and are staring at days at least of no water at all, who went 17 hours without power, with people in terror of the flooding in Vermont.

I want to drag those a$$hatS to stand in line for flush water in my friends' place.

Love, c.

#242 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 05:27 PM:

Fidelio, I cannot see how anyone could complain about Bloomberg's handling of matters (modulo the reality that the infrastructure of NYC is a hell of a lot more robust than that of New Orleans to begin with). They shut everything down, the storm came, they woke it all back up again. What's to complain? And consider that the area just west of the city is still suffering under historic flooding. I'm sure the folks on the Outer Banks wish they could roll up NC 12 and put it back as easily. It also says a lot about New Yorkers that he could get them to cooperate. Some people just can't help nitpicking.

Ocean City, Maryland was incredibly lucky, BTW, nothing worse than some very minor flooding and a lot of sand on the boardwalk. I haven't heard much from my friends on the Jersey shore but what I've heard suggests they got off OK too.

#243 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 05:36 PM:

Frankly, I think there's just a percentage of humans to whom nothing has happened unless if happens to them personally, at which point it becomes a major disaster and tragedy. Possibly not narcissistic, but certainly unable to see beyond the end of their nose.

#244 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 06:39 PM:

re 244: Well, that's part of the problem with the guy I know in Philly who is sitting high and dry enough on a hill while the Schuylkill is flooding away below him. But he's also susceptible to memes in general.

#245 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 07:10 PM:

One of the things that frighten me about the prospect of house hunting and home ownership is the whole flooding issue.

I know sensible people who have ended up in flood-prone houses.

A momentary lapse of judgement? Just Didn't Know? Lied to?

Will I be able to do better?

#246 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 07:24 PM:

Stefan Jones (245): If you haven't looked at them already, FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Maps are very helpful for that kind of decision-making (although a real PITA to use online).

In the unlikely event that I ever scrape up enough money to buy a house, it's going to be in a zone X.

#247 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 07:43 PM:

A co-worker here in northern Virgina greeted me this morning with, "I see you survived the hurricane that wasn't."

I'm pretty sure the tens of thousands of people without power in the DC area alone, to say nothing of the people on the NC coast and in New England who've lost so much, would like to punch him as much as I do right now.

#248 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 07:52 PM:

#220: I am slightly worried that it will lead to complacency the next time, though: I'm concerned about this, too.

And, as many people said (more or less), the attitude isn't "There was no storm" so much as "Well, all that stuff happened outside of NYC, or at least, not where I am, so obviously, the preparations and hype were uncalled for, especially if they inconvenienced me."

Gah. I shouldn't be going round and round on this. Time to catalog another file of images of books.

#249 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 08:01 PM:

Vermont really got hammered. 260 roads underwater. Bridges out. Entire towns cut off. Others flooded out. People dead. Others still missing.

Check the video here.

#250 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 08:42 PM:

I agree with Lisa Padol. I'm up at 60th Street and Queens Blvd. I didn't hear the wind on Saturday night into Sunday morning, I saw the rain. My complex has its own power plant so we shouldn't lose power. And we are on a sort of rise, so building basement flooding is possible but not the street. I KNOW how lucky we are. And I realize that most of the area this storm hit, weather at full power or not, were hit hard and sustained serious damage. (Big 6 seems to have lost parts of trees, not whole trees this time; I didn't walk around today to look.) I also think Bloomberg handled it well. I'd hope another mayor does the same. We were safer for his ideas.

#251 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 09:03 PM:

The mayor of Danbury, CT was complaining today over Twitter about how he was "Getting very frustrated with CL&P and their complete lack of preparedness regarding restoration of power. Disaster."

Dude. They brought in crews from as far away as Colorado. They say they've got 800 crews working. They couldn't let them even start to go out until the winds calmed down. And your town is not the only one in the state. WTF did you want them to DO?

#252 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2011, 11:55 PM:

Stefan Jones at # 245: I am buying a home, and I know what you mean about worrying about flood zones. So since the Missouri River has been flooded all summer, this is a good time to look. The new house is only about a mile from the river but at a much higher elevation, and at the crest of a ridge. The basement is dry now, so I am not worried.

About floods, that is. Next winter I will find out if the street going down the hill gets icy.

#253 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 03:50 AM:

Just to say: sympathies to all those affected. Very glad that the preparedness means that the consequences are not as bad as they could have been. And open-mouthed astonishment at the idiocy of those saying it was over-hyped etc.

#254 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 07:42 AM:

The whole point of emergency preparedness is to wake up the next morning and say, "No big deal."

#255 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 08:02 AM:

Thanks, Jim at 249, for the link re Vermont.

I have a friend who lives in a cabin just south of Rt 9 between Wilmington and Brattleboro. She's without electricity and surrounded by damaged roads. She reports that she was able yesterday to find a way south into Massachusetts to get supplies.

#256 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 11:26 AM:

Stefan @ 245
*puts on realtor hat* When you buy a house, your title company *should* provide a flood letter, which certifies that the house is or is not in a 100-year flood plain. The other thing is to look at the FEMA maps (or use )
*puts realtor hat back on desk*

I'm glad to hear that most of the community is through this safely. That's why we prepare. All of you in flood zones, keep yourselves dry and safe.

#257 ::: Mary Zambreno ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 11:55 AM:

PurpleGirl@250: Saturday and Sunday, I was about where you are, visiting family. My reaction Sunday morning was sheer relief. Preparedness is never overdone, in my opinion. Last year, Chicago (where I live when not visiting NYC) took a chance during its blizzard and decided not to close Lake Shore Drive until after rush hour--a decision the authorities sincerely regretted when they were still digging out trapped and frozen people from trapped and frozen cars and buses, 24 hours later. That's the kind of "we were lucky it wasn't worse" I hate to contemplate (and it could have been even worse, in Chicago), rather than the "it was over-hyped" nonsense.

#258 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 12:56 PM:

Jim@231 - "I wonder if alcohol was involved on the part of the boaters."

In the news video that accompanied the story, the reporter who was interviewing the two boaters was standing in 6-12 inches of water. I couldn't tell whether alcohol was involved, or whether they were just young and having a really fun time rafting down Main Street. They didn't have life-jackets on, so they were definitely idiots. But they did have enough planning skills to acquire a boat, inflate it, and paddle in the same direction, so they weren't totally high.

I also can't tell where they got arrested - was it somewhere that the water was faster and more dangerous? Or was it just where the cops happened to be, and the cops didn't want other idiots seeing them having fun and boating into real trouble, or didn't want to have to rescue them later.

#259 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 02:12 PM:

C. Wingate @ 219:

And to a Lubavitcher Chasid, the hurricane was a sign that the Messiah is coming.

Just goes to show, that if all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

What color is [generic] your hammer?

#261 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 03:50 PM:

My mother's country house is in Margaretville NY, but the local highways, not to mention the road to her house, are washed out. They got about 12" of rain.

#262 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 04:23 PM:

Now that we've gotten through it (in the NYC area), I'd just like to bring up the relatively trivial point that the coverage on every channel pissed me the hell off.

First of all, they were all saying the same things, and saying them over and over. The guy stands on the dock in the rain, shouting over the wind that certainly no one should be out on this dock; the young woman stands in a foot of rushing water saying that no one should come out into this street because the flood waters are dangerous. So the coverage itself was often stupid. Repeating the same information on a ten-minute cycle, all day and all night.

But the worst thing, and I think it's a consequence of running television by capitalist competition, was that it was on every major channel. All competing to be YOUR MAIN SOURCE FOR NEWS ABOUT IRENE, and all the effing same. Once you've updated, the biggest problem is boredom; if the networks would coordinate instead of competing, we'd have been able to get some plain old entertainment (i.e. distraction from anxiety) in between checking in for updates on weather and flood conditions.

To forestall one obvious criticism of the above, yes, I know there are upsides to the competitive model. This is the downside; that's all I'm saying. And I did bring a book, but not enough book to read through the whole thing, and besides I was kind of saving it for when the power went out (which, as it turned out, it didn't). And there was some regular TV on channels like TBS and TNT; unfortunately it was mostly stuff I had no interest in.

Jon 259: And to a Lubavitcher Chasid, the hurricane was a sign that the Messiah is coming...Just goes to show, that if all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

While I don't disagree, I think that's closer to "when you're paranoid, everything makes sense."

#263 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 04:59 PM:

AccuWeather is already warning about Katia. Oy.

#264 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 08:14 PM:

Octopus Pie did a strip for the occasion: Know your Brooklynites during a hurricane

#265 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 10:00 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @ 262

Yes, it was stupid, repetitive coverage, and so far as I could tell, nothing else in the entire world was worth covering while they were standing out there in the wind and rain. I got particularly peeved at the one who kept telling us that the sand in the wind actually hurt when it hit him. Why should I listen to people who are too dumb to come in out of the rain?

#266 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 10:06 PM:

Alan Beatty, where do you live?

We're approx. four miles from the Missouri and likely less than that from the Kaw. But. We are on top/slightly south of the highest point in the middle of town, on the bluffs behind Crown Center (mid-town Kansas City, MO). if we got a flood capable of destroying our home, it would be biblical and we'd all be doomed.

#267 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 10:11 PM:

A couple of friends in the Midwest are trying to get in touch with relatives on the East Coast to see how they weathered the storm. Presuming the relatives didn't register with the Red Cross database and don't have phone or Internet access, is there some obvious way to find out how they're doing? Or is it a waiting game?

I don't know details about the relatives (you know, like names, geographic location, useful information like that), and it may well be that everyone's gotten in touch by now. Certainly, I hope that's the case.

#268 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2011, 10:47 PM:

Paula, I am in Omaha.

#269 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:45 AM:

My parents, who live south of the Catskills, report that their foot of water in the basement was nothing compared to the godawful messes, infrastructural and housingal, in their neighborhood. Bridges torn up, roads crunkled and/or buried. My aunt (mother of Julia, who posts here occasionally) was trapped in her house for a few days, all three roads out being underwater.

#270 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 03:07 AM:

Cygnet, #222: During the Allison floods, several people who were trying to wade thru the water ran into floating clumps of fire ants. Talk about nasty things in the water...

guthrie, #243: That's a nearly universal human reaction... at age three or thereabouts. By the time we're 12 or so, we're supposed to have outgrown it. There are a lot of people in the US right now who don't seem to have matured emotionally much past the age of three, and too many of them are in politics and the mainstream media.

Paula, #266: That's like what my partner says about our house -- that if we ever have to evacuate, we'll be doing it in an Ark. In our case, it's not that we're so much higher than everywhere else, but that there's a helluva lot of everywhere else for the water to go before it comes up that last few feet to the front door. During Allison, houses on our section of the street didn't even get their yards flooded, while the next block over (running down to the bayou) had 8' of water in their living rooms. (Note: we still use Allison as the benchmark because the flooding from Ike wasn't nearly as bad -- no I-10 Regatta, for example. Galveston got hammered by storm surge, but Houston proper not so much.)

#271 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 03:09 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @262

The British media were not quite all hurricane, all the time, but I chose to watch that fine, traditional, news channel, al-Jazeera.

It struck me as odd, considering the stereotypes, that the reporters in the Arab world were mostly women, while the reporters from the USA were mostly men.

#272 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 06:57 AM:

Over forty dead from Irene.

Here in New Hampshire this morning, we still have people in shelters, and around 9,000 with no electricity.

#273 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 08:23 AM:

Lisa Padol @267: Loss of power doesn't necessarily equal complete loss of Internet access; a number of my friends have been reporting on Facebook that they're without power. (At least one was posting from the local library; others perhaps from their cellphones.)

Depending on location, local or regional news media might be another good place to inquire. Or the local library, if it's open.

If any of the relatives happen to be in Vermont, perhaps the Vermont Flooding Facebook page (h/t can help. Lots of people checking on their neighbors and getting news out as they can.

Best wishes to your friends!

#274 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 09:43 AM:

re 260: Maryland had 19 state highway closures as of yesterday afternoon; I have no idea what other blockages there are beyond that (and the state highway website stinks on that account).

Meanwhile, the latest crackpot Libertarian/neo-con meme: getting rid of the National Weather Service (because after all, we were all watching Accuweather)

#275 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 09:58 AM:


Rattlesnakes are a hazard here when it floods. They're hard to see, and usually pretty ticked off. They'll either be *in* the water, or have crawled up on top of something to dry off and warm up.

I've found snakes (both rattlesnakes and gopher snakes) curled up the tops of car tires after a good rain here in the desert, more than once. The tires are warm.

#276 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:34 AM:

This is the post climate change new world order, as proclaimed by bush1 and implemented by bush2:

Federal government has no place in disasters, whether warning and providing preparation assistance before the disaster happens, rescue and assistance during the disaster, and after, for rescue, assistance, clean-up and financial aid. This is the function of private insurance.

Also, taxes must be raised on the 40% of the population that is poor, lower and mid middle-class because these groups are not paying their fair share.

Love, C.

#277 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 11:08 AM:

Xopher #262:

I think this is the mode TV news is always in, in the US, especially 24 hour news stations. Whether the big story is hurricane Irene, or that crazy lady who apparently killed and dumped her little girl, or the cute blonde chick who was raped and murdered in the tropics, or that famous football player who murdered his ex-wife, or one of those useless starlets/heiresses who got in minor legal trouble for drunken idiotic attention-seeking behavior, or that golfer who got caught sleeping off on his wife, or the actor whose drunken driving arrest was all the fault of the Jews, or the capture and execution of Osama Bin Laden, or the big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or....

There's some top story, and every news station focuses on that news story, even when they have nothing useful or new to say. Indeed, they usually don't go to any trouble to find anyone with anything interesting to say, which is why a shoestring operation like Democracy Now can consistently have more interesting interviews and discussions than a media powerhouse like CNN, even covering the same story.

My guess is that the news stations know their business pretty well. Unfortunately for us, their business isn't informing us about reality--at best, that's a side effect. Their business is selling the eyeballs glued to their content, both to advertisers and to people who want to influence public opinion. It benefits them to max out the number of eyeballs glued to their show, subject only to whatever demographics are useful for their advertising and influence-peddling customers. (For the most part, news is watched by people who are smarter, richer, better-educated, and older than the average for the population, and news talk shows tend to get an even more smart/rich/educated/old audience. For influence peddling, that's relevant, because the same people vote and contribute money and influence the opinions of people around them--there's not much point trying to, say, blunt the drive for more regulation of undersea oil drilling among people who never vote or otherwise get involved in politics.)

I think the competition for eyeballs in the next fifteen minutes that happens with 24 hour news stations has some awful consequences, like filling all the easily-accessible discussions of news with the top one or two hot stories. But the solution is probably simply to avoid those news sources--it's quite possible to get high quality news reporting and information about your world in a format that lets you avoid almost any mention of Casey Anthony or Judge Ito.

Being focused on the one big story of the day too often, to the exclusion of other stuff, is a pretty useful marker for a bad news source, in much the same way that high fructose corn syrup is a pretty useful marker for junk food.

#278 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 11:49 AM:

#273: Thanks. I'll let them know.

#279 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 12:46 PM:

Albatross #277: Actually, that's one of the news's less annoying modes. ;-)

#280 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:17 PM:

David Harmon @279, [snort] Thanks for that link

#281 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 01:31 PM:

Hatfield, MA where I live was pretty much spared. Even today when the Connecticut River crested, it was well below what it had been back in the 1970's or early '80s.

And my house is on a rise anyway.

But the hilltowns in the Ct Valley were badly hit, with the Deerfield River and Green River and others rushing through the towns and carrying away a quilt shop, houses, flooding bookstores, etc. And Vermont towns were decimated.


#282 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 02:06 PM:

Lee @270: That's a nearly universal human reaction... at age three or thereabouts. By the time we're 12 or so, we're supposed to have outgrown it.

I'm afraid, in my observation, 12 is a very generous estimate. I honestly don't think that most* many people reach the point of crediting another's experience with reality/importance unless they're brought up exceptionally well and/or have it forced on them by Life.**

I think this is closely related to that tendency we discussed a while ago elsethread for people to dissociate from trauma as a means of maintaining their illusion of their own invulnerability. (I can't remember the context specifically enough to pull out search terms.)


* Might as well cop to my own bigotries here.

** I'm thinking in particular of my brother who once asked me, in all seriousness, if it wasn't just possible that my menstrual cramps were all in my head. He was in his forties, had been married twice, and already had one kid, for crissake. You'd think, at the very least, one of his wives would have beaten that out of him by that point. Probably just as well I didn't think of it at the time, but I would have liked to have him lie down on the floor so I could show him just how imaginary the pain was.

#283 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 09:32 PM:

Albatross @277: I highly recommend Brooke Gladstone's "The Influencing Machine"; it talks about a lot of those things and why they are that way.

Jane @281: Glad to hear things are good over your way. Yesterday when the Connecticut crested there were a few places where the water was right up to the edge of the road in Hadley, which is the highest I've seen it yet, but I didn't get out to the Happy Valley until the mid-80's.

I feel very lucky, tempered by the knowledge of how many people weren't.

#284 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 09:54 PM:

Okay, the friends' relatives are in Connecticut, so the Vermont page won't be especially helpful. I don't know what town in Connecticut.

Odds are they can use the internet as least as well, if not better, than I can to find out what the it knows, as they actually know who they're looking for and where. I don't even know if the relatives in question normally fall out of touch. I just keep thinking I ought to be able to figure out the correct search query to find them.

#285 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2011, 10:55 PM:

Jacque #282, Lee #270: Yeah -- the thing is, most people assume that human beings have a basic nature which accounts for most of the people they see around them. Unfortunately, that's just wrong...

Humans are a hyperdeveloped ape, which in most of their communities, get programmed/educated/socialized in layers. People learn that "outsiders are people too", that society works better if you "love your neighbor as yourself", and, yes, that other people have their own trials and issues.

But the social structures responsible for that layering are non-trivial, and the newer ones aren't terribly stable. (A "stable" social structure is one that can reliably propagate itself across multiple generations.)

It's all too easy for some people to miss out on parts of that, such as accounting for people whose trials and abilities are very different than their own. Let alone when further layers of community start to break down, and a unit at some scale turns to "the tribe against the world", or worse.

#286 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:17 AM:

David, #285: That's kind of what I was getting at, but I phrased it poorly. To clarify: yes, we're supposed to have outgrown the "nothing really matters unless it happens to ME" attitude by... well, at least before we get to high school, I guess, although I'd have placed it younger -- but that only happens if we're taught to think about other people as people. That kind of socialization used to be an important part of both parenting and primary schooling, but there are large swaths of American society which seem to have let it slide, whether from ignorance or malice or simply being led awry I have no idea. So now you get people (more than the odd crank, that is) who are old enough to know better still reacting to other people's pain with behavior patterns any pediatrician or nursery-school teacher would recognize.

#287 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 03:42 AM:

I was just reading the thread "Making Light in Difficult Conditions" and saw that Linkmeister @47 had complained about a bathtub not holding water very long. A friend of mine recently suggested a way around that, and I tried it successfully during Irene. Take a piece of plastic wrap, say about 6" square, and smear it with vaseline on one side. If you have a plug that pulls out, remove it. Lay the plastic, vaseline side down, over the drain, so that the plastic sticks to the tub surface. Next insert the plug or close the drain valve. Fill the tub. It worked for me. (I didn't end up needing the water, fortunately.)

#288 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 05:26 AM:

JOnesnori #287 - I had similar problems and simply wrapped the vertical side of the plug in folded up clingfilm. Seems to work for a few hours anyway, and doesn't leave vaseline everywhere.

Regarding the "nothing matters unless it happens to me" thing, I was under the impression that people really got the ability to empathise with others some time during/ after adolescence, so that teenagers are genuinely scary because they just can't see what the problem is because they havn't connected their actions with hurt to other people.

#289 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 07:29 AM:

Lee #286: large swaths of American society which seem to have let it slide,

Actually, I think it's been disrupted by propaganda and worse over the past few years.

1) Do you remember when we used to have Civics, or at least (my era) Social Studies in high school? The real point of that was "you're part of something bigger". And with NCLB, everything but "teach to the test" went by the wayside.

2) The financial deregulations of the 80's, developing into the "me generation" of the 80's, when greed and backstabbing became not just cool, but nearly mandatory among corporate leadership.

3) The "Drug Wars", specifically targeting the communities of both the poor and the Left, encouraging family members to turn each other in (remember "drop a dime"?) and generally eroding trust within the communities.

4) The other witchhunts over the same period, starting with Communism, moving on to Satanic Ritual Abuse, homosexuality, and then "pedophiles". The last one is actually worst, because it not only made suspicious any interactions between adults and unrelated children or adolescents, but also attacked relations and normal social learning among the younger folks.

#290 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 12:33 PM:

#287: Thanks! Yes, our tub starts draining once filled, even with drain theoretically closed. Fortunately, we did not need to use the water, but this is a good trick to know.

#291 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 01:58 PM:

The stopper of the bathtub drain at the hotel we were in didn't work at all (as in, with it fully closed the water drained instantly). So I pulled it out and stuffed plastic grocery bags into the drain (carefully leaving the handles sticking out; I didn't want my plug to become a clog). I didn't have any vaseline.

It worked; water level hadn't gone down at all by the following morning, nor did it decrease until I pulled the bags out after the crisis had passed.

#292 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 01:58 PM:

David Harmon @285: It's also cultural, too (duh). Steven Pinker has an interesting discussion of the evolution of violence, and how violence (including war) has, in general, been going down as the boundaries of what people think of as "Us" move outward.

It would be interesting to do a cross-correlation between that aspect, and people's ability/tendency to credit other's experience with reality.

Lee @286: That kind of socialization used to be an important part of both parenting and primary schooling, but there are large swaths of American society which seem to have let it slide, whether from ignorance or malice or simply being led awry I have no idea.

In far too many cases, I think this is another victim of our New! Improved! Big-Box culture (David Harmon @289) wherein teachers are scrambling with inadequate resources, and parents are scrambling just to keep roof and food coming. A lot of times, the authority figures in question just don't have time. Too many kids in this world are left to raise themselves and they're doing really well to get the simplest of David Harmon's above layers in place.*

It's going to be fascinating to see how the Internet's ability to normalize internal experience ("Hey, you feel that way too when this happens? Wow. Maybe I'm not totally monstrous or inadequate after all!") countervails that.

I don't recall seeing research on age, development, and empathy, but speaking for myself, I've been pretty late to the game, and it took a lot of conscious retrofitting.

I think** there are two core requirements for functional empathy: safety and self-awareness. Self-awareness is important, obviously, because in order to imagine feelings in others, one has to be able to experience feelings in oneself. If one doesn't feel safe enough*** to experience one's own feelings**** (PTSD being an obvious example), then one can't even get to Square One.


* If one was of a paranoid bent of mind, it would be really easy to see this as Yet Another arm of the oligarchy's ongoing war to separate us from each other (and even from ourselves) into make us into more compliant and controllable sheeple.

** And bear with me; I'm working this out as I write.

*** And by this I mean safety within oneself, not necessarily safety within the world.

**** One manifestation of which Teresa describes so beautifully here.

#293 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:09 PM:

Okay, my friends heard from the relatives. They're without power, but answered an email finally sent to them at work.

#294 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:15 PM:

Have any of you ML readers heard from Sarah Prince? Her family own a house in the Eastern Adirondacks in a town which lost access by the road in and out (a two-lane blacktop state highway) due to flooding.

Further up the road is the largest landslide known in US history, which is so slow-moving that it isn't widely reported.

#295 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 02:59 PM:

Library in the Adirondacks lost all their children's books in flooding from Irene. Call for help here.

#296 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 03:56 PM:

Thanks for all the bathtub drain suggestions! Mine has no plug-on-a-chain, simply a lever which theoretically closes the drain. I'll have to remember the plastic bag remedy.

#297 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 04:47 PM:

Jacque #292: If one was of a paranoid bent of mind, it would be really easy to see this as Yet Another arm of the oligarchy's ongoing war to separate us from each other

They're probably not thinking of it quite so explicitly... but happy, secure people are much harder to manipulate and control. Commercial or authoritarian powers think of that as "resistance" to their respective goals.

Of course, the idea of scaring people in order to manipulate them is nothing new! There's that quote from Julius Caesar about setting a lion loose in the street....

#298 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 05:07 PM:

David Harmon @297: Actually, in the advertising industry at least, I'm given to understand that it's an article of faith. I'll wager the same is true for politics, at least at the national level.

I saw Noam Chomsky give a talk at CU way back in the late seventies, it must have been. Went in expecting a nice discussion of linguistics. What I got was a rather unnerving lesson in conspiracy and paranoia. Wouldn't say out loud, but I kind of decided Chomsky had gone over the edge.

Now? Um, not so much.

#299 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 05:20 PM:

Jacque, I'd just like to point out that just because people really are out to get you doesn't mean you're not also paranoid. Noam Chomsky is a nutbar.

#300 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 06:00 PM:

Xopher: "What does Chicken Little do if the sky really is falling?" :)

#301 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 07:15 PM:

Jacque: Regrets her complete loss of credibility. Same as the boy watching the wolves eat their fill.

#302 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 08:24 PM:

Xopher, Jacque: Actually, politicians have been abusing that phenomenon at least since Nixon's "big lie" technique: Denounce the people who call out your genuine but hidden misdeeds as paranoid, so they have no credibility even when the evidence comes out. That at least takes your most perceptive critics out of the game....

#303 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 08:40 PM:

My penultimate Hurricane Irene update, I hope: I'm in a hotel (with hot water! and an Internet!) but I hear that the power's back on in my apartment. My ultimate Hurricane Irene update will be a triumphant return to commenting from my very own couch.

#304 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2011, 09:03 PM:

TexAnne: from someone who had easy compared to most of the East Coast, I hope you're back home real soon.

#305 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 06:27 AM:

PurpleGirl, 304: Thanks! My apartment had a small leak or two, and the property lost some gorgeous and massive old trees, but the biggest problem was lack of power/Internet. I toughed it out* but when the chance at a paid-for hotel room came, I grabbed it.

*hah, well, I say "toughed it out"...a Northeast post-hurricane low of 60 vs. a Gulf Coast post-hurricane low of 75 if you're lucky is like a vacation. Of course it also means that a person's showers are in water that approaches absolute zero instead of being pleasantly tepid. (This is where Lee et al begin to hate me.) ;-)

#306 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 08:12 AM:

And, the video: 8 days of Irene, seen from space.

#307 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 08:26 AM:

With reference to bathtubs, and draining: they don't always drain out through the drain. Sometimes they leak around the drain. How do I know this? Well, after my hall pantry was inundated with water, and the basement ceiling was dripping water, I eventually woke to the fact that the upstairs bathtub was right over both of these newly-wet locations, and said bathtub was not retaining all the water I'd put in. I popped open the hall access to the pipes, saw no flooding (i.e., no busted or leaking pipeworks), but heard the drip, drip, dripping of water. I promptly drained the tub (which required some minor surgery to remove all the detritus that collects naturally in the drains), and left the fan running at the pantry, plus the dehumidifier in the basement. Within hours, all locations were gratifyingly dry. Note to self: upon next hurricane preparations, do not use upstairs bathtub to store liquids.

In other news, son is finishing his first week back at school, and is apparently handling things well enough. Medication adjustments are continuing, but he's in better spirits and is congenial in class, so we can safely say progress is being made.

#308 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 09:01 AM:

TexAnne @ 303... Your couch has built-in WiFi?

#309 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 09:19 AM:

TexAnne... a person's showers are in water that approaches absolute zero


#310 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 11:04 AM:

Ginger #307, and probably some other people:

Nobody seems to have mentioned the flat rubber barriers you put over the drain that get held there by suction. Roughly 4" diameter, maybe 1/8" thick, get them at old-line hardware stores. Invaluable also for those situations where you have rejiggered the drain to have a filter basket in it to catch hair before it enters an old plumbing system; also useful for hotel sinks that don't close adequately when you're doing things with contact lenses.

#311 ::: Lenore Jean Jones/jonesnori ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 01:07 PM:

Joann @310: I have one of those and used it in one of my tubs (in addition to the lever which closes the drain) instead of the vaselined plastic wrap. It didn't hold water as well as the plastic wrapped tub did, so I added plastic wrap to that one, too, and put the flat rubber barrier back on top of it. That worked.

#312 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 04:19 PM:

joann @310: flat rubber barriers

I tried one of those and, believe it or not, doesn't work on my tub. Nearly as I can figure out, the drain is too close to the side to allow the barrier to lay down flat. My hack: a crystal ball (which I just happened to have laying around) on top of a washcloth.

#313 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 06:31 PM:

Another emergency drain stop is a baggie partly filled with water, all the air expressed, laid over the hole.

#314 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 08:14 PM:

Jacque @312:

My hack: a crystal ball (which I just happened to have laying around) on top of a washcloth.

I think this is my cue to say "Pics or it didn't happen!"

#315 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2011, 09:08 PM:

You might have a small gap between the drain and the tub, so water goes down the outside of the drain - plumbers have a kind of putty for that, but it needs to be fixed or replaced occasionally.

#316 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2011, 01:27 AM:

Rikibeth @314: "Pics or it didn't happen!"

Well, this can certainly be arranged, but I predict that it will be much less interesting than you would expect. :)


Huh. Live and learn. More interesting than I expected.

Photographing a crystal ball turns out to be an interesting problem in optics. Me: "Take a picture of this, please, Mr. Camera." Camera: "Okay, sure. But, um," tap tap tap "Where is it?" (Frame B)

See also: "Angle of incidence = angle of reflection." If you shoot it off-sides into a corner so as to brace the camera against the wall for focus (Frame C), all the light from your flash goes over there.

I wish I could figure out how to get it to shoot illuminated by the little orange target-light. That was a really interesting effect. Spooky, like.

#317 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2011, 04:43 PM:

Teresa, very belatedly... thanks much for your hospitality. It was a big help to have a place to crash and to get some of our needed shopping done.

The storm took out a lot of trees in CT and there was lots of flooding in MA, but all were safe. Emma is now safely ensconced at Smith and I made it home without too much ado.

#318 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 09:31 AM:

#262 ::: Xopher HalfTongue:

Any ideas about when competition leads to new ideas, and when it leads to convergence?

#277 ::: albatross:

I think it's a good first approximation to assume that people running large stable businesses know what they're doing, but every once in a while it turns out that they've made big mistakes or that there was a strong strategy they've missed.

#282 ::: Jacque:

I agree, and I'll add that there's an intermediate state of accepting that other people's experience is different in principle, without having a lot of ability to realize the implications.

#289 ::: David Harmon:

How many of you who'd had civics courses think they mattered to you?

I'm moderately sure I had a civics course (1960s), but it got filed and ignored under "boring people stuff". On the other side, one of my problems with history (not so much any more, though history still isn't my favorite thing) was too much empathy. There was simply more suffering (not made especially explicit, but I had a vague idea of what a war was) than I could want to pay detailed attention to.

Civics in action

#292 ::: Jacque:

The other reason safety is important for empathy is that it can seem like an unfair imposition to take account of people's feelings if they're taking no account of one's own.

#297 ::: David Harmon:

This relates to something I wonder about-- how emotional abuse works, in the sense of why it's such a strong and stable pattern of behavior for some people.

I think a piece of it is being uncomfortable at seeing signs of comfort/peace of mind on the part of the victim.


Fit of common sense: I put this post together in EditPad rather than scrolling back and forth between the comments and the thread above. I need to make this a habit.

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