September 01, 2008

Gustav unintended consequences

It's looking like Hurricane Gustav has veered away from a direct hit on New Orleans, and that it did not strengthen to the level predicted. This is good in the short term for New Orleans and the people of coastal Louisiana. But I predict two unfortunate results of this.

The first, is that the media coverage we're gonna see today and tomorrow will make the actual storm seem worse than it really turned out to be. They've invested so much in covering this "storm of the century" that it will be hard to report that it turned out to be not such a big deal. For example, one reporter is repeatedly making a big deal about a sign that blew down. She's reporting the same sign every time she comes up in the reports rotation.

The second, and far more disturbing, is that this huge mobilization of resources and evacuations, for what many will now feel wasn't necessary, will make it much harder to get people moving when the inevitable, truly big storm hits. The irony here is that this near-miss may actually produce more death and suffering than if Gustav had hit straight on. It's just that the damage will be postponed until a future storm.

Posted by jackhodgson at September 1, 2008 08:43 AM