Saturday, August 27, 2011

The End of the World...

"It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end,
It's the end of the world."

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on us, as it has been for the past four days, the media frenzy has fed upon itself to the point where this had better be the storm of the century or everyone is going to be terribly disappointed.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered some 300,000 residents to evacuate such areas as Coney Island, the Rockaways, and Battery Park in Manhattan. He then announced that the subway and bus system would be shut down at noon today in advance of the storm.  Since many people in the areas he ordered evacuated do not have cars, how exactly does he expect them to get out of town? And just how many families carrying all their important possessions can fit on a city bus anyway?

Not to be outdone, the Nassau and Suffolk County Executives have ordered the "mandatory evacuation" of a large portion of the population on Long Island's south shore at 5:00 p.m. this evening. The line of demarcation in Nassau is Sunrise Highway in the western portion and Merrick Road to the east. There are many houses less than one block south of these roads; should these people just walk across the street to be safe?

How does anyone enforce a mandatory evacuation, anyway? Do they drag you out of your house and put you in jail? A news reporter covering the evacuation plan in Suffolk said that the Sheriff's Department would be going door-to-door, collecting the names, phone numbers and next-of-kin information of those people who will not leave. I don't know how many employees the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department has, but it seems to me that they will still be ringing doorbells long after the storm has passed.
Perhaps the only realistic threat that could be used to get people to leave is to say, "Look, if there's flooding and you end up sitting on your roof, we're not going to risk anyone else's safety to come and get you. If you stay, you're on your own." Of course, then we won't have any of those dramatic rescue videos that TV news stations love to show.

For those who enjoy ironic humor: The Farmingdale Patch web page that reports the evacuation order includes an ad for the Farmingdale Aquatic Swim Club.


According to the 2010 census, the population of Long Island (including Queens and Brooklyn) is 7.5 million people. If we were forced to evacuate the Island, all 118 miles of it, we have just three bridges -- the Throgs Neck, the Whitestone and the RFK (nee Triborough) -- which connect to the mainland. Four other bridges -- the 59th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Manhattan -- and two tunnels -- Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery -- connect us to Manhattan, which is, by the way, another island with only the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and the George Washington Bridge as means of egress. One last bridge, the Verrazano, connects to Staten Island, which is also, as you can tell from its name, an island; should we manage to get to SI, however, there are three bridges we can use to get to New Jersey.

Considering how backed up the highways, bridges and tunnels get during a normal rush hour, does anyone seriously think that Long Island could ever be evacuated in an emergency? Might as well stay put in the comfort of your home and enjoy a beverage. Or, as we used to say back during the peak of the Cold War when we had those duck-and-cover air raid drills in school, "Put your head between your knees and kiss your butt goodbye."


Well, that's all for now from "Stormfront: Long Island." Check back later to see how we make out. I might be blogging while sitting in an inner tube as I float down the street.

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