Here's the Scoop: October 31, 2012

Relief blows through the Catskills
Like millions of other east coast residents, I counted down the days until Hurricane Sandy’s arrival. I didn’t really want to spend the better part of a week obsessing over the impending doomsday, but the media left me with little choice.

Of course, I’m part of the media, but I’m more the “after the fact” segment of the profession. As a general rule, I’d say it’s better to report on what actually occurred, rather than to whip folks into frenzy over what “might” happen.

I realize that weather reporting is an essential element of our world. For the most part, it’s quite accurate. Still, the curse of 24-hour weather programming is that the people drawing the paychecks have to say something. The result is often a bit of repetition. Maybe more than a bit — in case we missed what they said the first 27 times.

Plus, there’s something unsettling when weather forecasters are out in the midst of a storm, struggling to stay upright in 85-mph winds, warning the audience not to venture out into such elements.
In the case of Hurricane Sandy, the early warnings likely saved hundreds, possibly thousands of lives. That work certainly overshadows any amount of annoyance that we’ve experienced with nonstop pre-storm reporting.

The news footage coming out of the downstate area is truly frightening. Unfortunately, we know their pain too well.

Expected to hit our area just 14 months after the devastation of Hurricane Irene, the buildup to Hurricane Sandy created more than a little tension among community members who were socked by that storm. Everybody took these warnings seriously.

I waited until the storm had passed to write this column, not knowing the path it might take. Now, I know how weather forecasters must feel. I’m still waiting for daylight to break, but I’m cautiously optimistic that our local communities eluded a very large catastrophe by virtue of...pure luck!
When I get to the office today, I’m sure we’ll isolated damage in our coverage area. While any loss is bad, the reports certainly won’t be the types of widespread damage that crippled our communities for such a long period.

Here’s what I’m judging my early morning analysis on:
• Our rain gauge collected only 1.8 inches. We’ve had much more than amount a few times in the past few months. A hard sprinkle, I’d call it.
• The whipping winds dimmed the lights in our house a few times, but power never failed. I wonder if we can get our money back on the candles, they hardly burned at all.
• When I head to work, I fully expect there to be a downed tree or two in my path, but the huge hemlock that I worry about — which could easily crush our house — seems firmly rooted in place. Taking the tree down is too big of a job for my chain saw skill level, but that project is vaulting to the top of the “To Do By Others” list.

We certainly sympathcize with our downstate neighbors and others who suffered losses in this storm. Locally, though, the collective sigh of relief is one of hurricane force.
— Brian Sweeney