New Yorkers were in a real funk over this past weekend, mostly because Mayor Michael Bloomberg had the nerve to react proactively to the arrival of Hurricane Irene. I have lived in New York all my life, and I never remember the mass transit system being completely shut down. Yes, blizzards have a way of doing that after the fact, but this is the first time I can recall subways, buses, and commuter railways being shut down prior to an event. New Yorkers were predictably lost especially without their lifeline beneath the ground, and everything closed including Broadway shows, fancy restaurants, and sporting events.
Once Irene passed over us inflicting much less damage than expected, the armchair quarterbacks were quick to complain about Bloomberg’s “over reaction” to the hurricane. I guess if people didn’t wake up and see the torch from the Statue of Liberty sticking out of a skyscraper and the Brooklyn Bridge broken into chunks floating in the water, they felt they were robbed of a Saturday night in the city unnecessarily.
Well, I applaud Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the event. Let it suffice to say that they learned from President George W. Bush’s debacle with Hurricane Katrina, and yes that was a much more powerful Category 5 storm, but the same fears of flooding and devastation came with Irene too. Bloomberg and Cuomo really took the steps that were necessary, and the evacuations of low lying areas, the cancellations of transit service, and the closing of bridges and tunnels created a virtual lock down of the city that no doubt saved many lives.
I guess it should be expected that people would complain about this, but the bottom line is that the eight million plus residents of the Big Apple survived relatively unscathed. Yes, about 900,000 people lost power in the five boroughs, in Westchester, and Long Island, but only one person lost his life (a City Islander who fell into the water as he was trying to secure his boat), and credit has to be given to the mayor and governor and all those cops, firefighters, and transit workers who made the operation a success.
So, thank you, Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Cuomo. New York survived and your leadership made certain most of the populace survived as well. To quote GWB, “you did a heckuva job” but in this case the praise is well deserved.