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Glenn Reynolds on Hurricane Sandy: Katrina on the Hudson

November 13, 2012

In a new article at USA Today, Glenn Reynolds examines the response to Hurricane Sandy by the government and the media.

As usual, he doesn’t disappoint…

Is the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy turning into Katrina-on-the-Hudson? Pretty much, and that tells us some things about Sandy, and Katrina, and the press.

One parallel: A late evacuation order. Even before the storm struck, weatherblogger Brendan Loy — famous for calling for early evacuation of New Orleans before Katrina struck — criticizing Mayor Bloomberg for not ordering early or extensive enough evacuations in New York, and for making the “ignorant” statement that Sandy wouldn’t be as bad as a hurricane.

What Bloomberg said was, “Although we’re expecting a large surge of water, it is not expected to be a tropical storm or hurricane-type surge. With this storm, we’ll likely see a slow pileup of water rather than a sudden surge…So it will be less dangerous.” Ignorant at the time, this turned out to be dangerously wrong when Sandy struck and the sea surged.

After Sandy struck, some areas did worse than others, and FEMA — as with Katrina — got bad press. Manhattan was hit hard, but the outer boroughs suffered more. Staten Island residents say they were forgotten by relief efforts and one press report called the island “a giant mud puddle of dead dreams.” Adding insult to injury, when another nor’easter approached the area FEMA closed its Staten Island office “due to weather.” Time called it “the island that New York City forgot.” Rudy Giuliani called FEMA’s performance “as bad as Katrina.”

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, refugees suffer in bitterly cold tent cities, while officials try to keep criticism quiet: “As Brian Sotelo tells it, when it became clear that the residents were less than enamored with their new accommodations last Wednesday night and were letting the outside world know about it, officials tried to stop them from taking pictures, turned off the WiFi and said they couldn’t charge their smart phones because there wasn’t enough power,” Stephen Edelson writes in the Asbury Park Press.

READ IT ALL.

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