And Ire-e-ene, Irene’s so far awa-a-ay … I couldn’t get away

The East Coast was hit by both an earthquake and Hurricane Irene last week, which means in North Carolina, there isn’t a store to be found with either milk or bread remaining on the shelves. I’m surprised the media hasn’t jumped on that angle. They’ve pretty much driven every other theme into the ground.

There’s still debate over whether they overreacted to one or both incidents. I don’t know. Certainly, both caused damage and Irene caused numerous deaths, so it’s tough to deny that they deserved to be taken seriously. But there were also plenty of examples of giving them too much press.

California thinks we overreacted to the earthquake. This is monumental, because it’s probably the only time you’ll see me use the phrase “California thinks.” They had the audacity to mock us afterward, for allegedly panicking during and after the 5.8 earthquake, something they claim wouldn’t have bothered them at all.

I didn’t see examples of unjustified panic — I believe the people who have worked in the Pentagon for at least 10 years get a pass for becoming jumpy when the ground moves — and considering no one under the age of 67 had experienced anything like that on the East Coast, I’d say we handled ourselves with aplomb.

Hey, California -- Boo!

In fact, we were less afraid of the quake than California is of Happy Meals, so they can just shut their collective Apple Piehole as far as I’m concerned.

Even New York City got into the act, with an entrepeneurial tattoo artist offering a tongue-in-cheek “I survived the quake” tattoo, complete with an outline of the state of New York. The problem with that is, the quake didn’t take place in New York.

People there might have felt it, but its epicentre was near Mineral, Va. How that equates to a “New York City earthquake,” I don’t know — maybe the same way a hurricane bearing down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina equates to a need to immediately evacuate Manhattan. (Which I’m happy to report turned out to be nothing more than premature evacuation.)

In other words, New York has been behaving as expected — as usual, they’ve taken something owned by southerners and claimed it as their own. Damned carpetbaggers.

But the strangest fish out of water that I saw was during the Friday night preliminaries to Irene’s landfall, when the news stations were running their warnings full-tilt. We heard from the President, various governors, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Yes, I know my civics and I understand that her department handles disaster preparedness, but it was still weird to see her urging people to follow storm evacuation orders. I’d rather know she’s dealing with terrorist cells than with low-pressure cells. Unless it’s threatening to produce heavy winds and suicidal jihadists, she can probably keep a low profile during anything less than a Category 3.

Still, we kept watching and we heeded all the warnings. Which, for the central part of the state, were few. I kept a flashlight by the bed and listened to the rain and wind pick up thoughout the night, finally moving to a separate room during the wee small hours.

Don't orphan them, Mother Nature!

This was my traditional, morbid take on not putting all the eggs (or both the eggs, as it were) in one basket — I wanted to increase the odds of at least one parent surviving a tree through the roof, so the boys wouldn’t have to wake up to an ugly discovery. (I haven’t forgotten that bitch Fran.)

We stayed inside Saturday and hoped for the best for our loved ones and others on the N.C. coast as Irene came ashore. We watched the updates on actual damage there, played almost as afterthoughts between updates on NYC’s preparations for damage that might not occur.

Then I caught this gem while perusing the online warnings and watches: “Special Weather Statement from 9:09 – 10:45 … Numerous showers with gusty winds continued over parts of central North Carolina due to Hurricane Irene… At 900 am…National Weather Service Doppler radar indicated scattered to numerous showers continuing over central North Carolina…mainly from Sanford and Pittsboro north to the Triangle…Roxboro and Henderson. These showers will produce a quick quarter to half inch of rain in 15 minutes or less…with winds gusts to 30 to 35 mph. Gusty winds with showers will produce isolated downed trees due to the wet ground. This can result in isolated downed power lines. Do not go near any downed power line. Also…use caution when travelling this morning due to gusty winds and occasional heavy rain. Drive more slowly to avoid hydroplaning.”

I honestly don’t know what to think of this. First, if “9:09” wasn’t a typo, then the NWS has become really good at specifics. I’m also not familiar with the phrase, “Special Weather Statement.” Normally I see this type of thing categorized as either a “Watch” or a “Warning.” I guess this one qualified as neither; it’s really nothing more than a description. A laughable description, in fact.

I’m sorry, but “numerous showers” and “gusty winds” aren’t really that big of a deal. Plus, it’s only common sense to drive more slowly during heavy rain, and as for staying away from downed power lines? Been onboard with that since I was five, thanks.

This special statement was plain ol’ sensationalism — our situation isn’t as dangerous, but let’s pretend it is. It’s as if the entire eastern seaboard — as well as regions quite safely inland — wanted to take the spotlight away from those who really were impacted. One big case of Irenish Envy.

Thanks, but I’m fine with letting them have the spotlight. They suffered through this; they need the attention. There’s no need to keep up with the Joneses; how about we have some empathy for the Joneses instead?

Even though my family suffered damage to our house…

Where's my FEMA money?

…I’m pretty sure we’ll get over it. We’re probably going to sell it at the next community yard sale, anyway. As for the people who were actually hurt by Irene, who knows? Please keep them in your thoughts.

Meanwhile, here’s hoping California mocks the crap out of New York City this week….


About Dan Bain

Dan is an award-winning humorist, features writer, emcee and entertainer from Raleigh, NC. His collection of humor essays, A Nay for Effort, has earned him fans from one end of his couch to the other. Why not join them and buy one? (You won't have to sit on his couch.) Dan will donate 10 percent of the book's proceeds to education. You can check it out at; thanks!
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21 Responses to And Ire-e-ene, Irene’s so far awa-a-ay … I couldn’t get away

  1. I thought California needed to get over itself, frankly. California would have a terrorist attack and think it was an earthquake, and then who would get out there to save them? East Coast people. But when was they last time they offered to help the East Coast with anything? Never. Shut it, California. And I certainly don’t think anyone along the Seaboard overreacted to Irene. She was a Cat 2 on approach and, if anything, the governors’ orders to evacuate coastal tourist towns was an example of what the country has learned from Katrina (today’s the six-year anniversary). This includes my personal favorite gubernatorial directive: that of NJ’s Chris Christie, who said on Friday, “You know, I’m seein’ all this video, this news video, of people sittin’ on the beach in Asbury Park? Get the hell off the beach! It’s 4:30. You’ve maximized your tan.”

    The thing about alleged “over-reactions” is that if there had been an “under-reaction” the same people bitching about an “over-reaction” would be yelling, “Where were the evacuation orders?!” They can shut it, too.

    • Dan Bain says:

      Thanks fer stoppin’ by. It’s definitely better to err on the side of caution with a storm that big, at least with regard to the coast. The thing that irks me most is, they shouldn’t have to issue orders — people should know better, just from a warning.

      I’m still conflicted on NYC. It was weird that they were making those decisions at the same time we were making them down here, but I guess they have just a few more people to try to evacuate. But I got tired of seeing coverage of nothing happening there, when the storm was encroaching here. My hero and my wife’s dream date, AC, usually goes where the action is — but there he was, narrating a non-event. Maybe they lost confidence in him after the giggling video.

      As for California, I saw lots of tweets about ridiculous news coverages — things like interviewing people over fallen coffee tins, etc. That indicates nothing about how the populace reacted; rather, it shows stupidity and sensationalism on the part of … wait for it … Berkely-educated journalists!

    • Dan Bain says:


      Hitting that Enter key a little too quickly today….

    • Dan Bain says:

      P.S. Wait, are you saying we didn’t react well to Katrina? 🙂

  2. nrhatch says:

    This would be far funnier if not for the massive flooding throughout New England, NY, and NJ.

    I guess it remains to be seen which state will have bragging rights to the cat-ass-trophy.

    • Dan Bain says:

      This wasn’t intended to make light of the victims.

    • nrhatch says:

      I didn’t think that you were . . . what I meant is that newscasters don’t/can’t know in the midst of the storm which area will be hardest hit.

      You said: It’s as if the entire eastern seaboard — as well as regions quite safely inland — wanted to take the spotlight away from those who really were impacted. One big case of Irenish Envy.

      Although Vermont is “quite safely inland” . . . it may turn out to be the state that is hardest hit.

  3. One of my favorites was the over-eager reporter talking about being covered by sea foam from rough waves…only it was sewage. Inexperience can be fun. Storms are bad – hope ya’ll don’t have to learn really fast about hurricanes. (and how to survive the first week after they leave) First lesson, category doesn’t mean anything. If it rains hard enough and long enough in any place, there will be flooding. And then there’s the tornadoes…really sad about the flooding and all the trees down.

  4. Well written Mr. Bain! My favorite part was “In fact, we were less afraid of the quake than California is of Happy Meals, so they can just shut their collective Apple Piehole as far as I’m concerned.” because it’s so accurate.

  5. LMAO@Life says:

    Irene was tame. But, I am still without power since 11p, last Saturday! We have a generator. But, not enough juice to do laundry. So, I’m living like the colonial days, and doing my clothes in the bathtub. As far as the quake, I was like the Californians, since I’ve spent a large chunk of my life in Seattle. 5.8 happens 3-4 times a year, in the Northwest. But, for these parts, IT WAS A BIG Deal (as it should’ve been). We also had a tornado which was spawned from Irene. Naturally, someone created a page on Facebook called, “I survived the Earthquake, Hurricane, and Tornado from the last week of August.” LOL

  6. critters and crayons says:

    I agree with your stance on giving the govt credit for doing something- because surely all the blame would have fallen on its inaction if it hadn’t. 🙂

  7. comingeast says:

    Great piece, Dan. Loved the California thing, especially. When all the dire predictions were circulating about Norfolk and Virginia Beach getting a direct hit, my brother and sister-in-law, who live in Chester, near Richmond, begged us to come and stay with them. We told them we’d be absolutely fine, and we were, only losing power for about two hours. Winds only got up to 54 mph. But my brother and sister-in-law lost power for a solid week. We told them next time the forecasters predict that we’ll get a direct hit, they need to come and stay with us.

  8. Miranda Gargasz says:

    I really enjoyed your blog, so I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. I also posted a link to your blog from mine.

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