Pundits and residents of hurricane-prone Florida think people in the Northeast are a bunch of sissies, panicking over a little Category 1 hurricane like Irene. Down there in the land of palm trees, a Cat 1 is just a little storm in comparison to the Cat 5s they’ve suffered.
The Northeast isn’t the land of palm trees; it’s the land of oak trees. Big, heavy oak trees that can crush a car down to its axles, rip through the top story of a house, or take out the electricity for about 40,000 homes and businesses. We also live in the land of rivers – quite a few. New Jersey, in particular, is a working class state, not the home of tourists and retirees. If a vacation home gets blown away in the Sunshine State, the owner calls their insurance company and then goes home. Anyone who can afford a vacation home in Florida can afford the insurance.
Here in New Jersey, you have to live in a flood plain to even qualify for flood insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone who qualifies can afford the insurance. Then, too, floods don’t always cooperate. Sometimes they flood non-flood plain areas, where there is no flood insurance. Those homeowners are just plumb out of luck.
Then of course, there’s the problem with FEMA. They condemn everything in sight, even items that could be salvaged. That’s where those billion-dollar figures come from. Wet clothes – washing won’t do. Out they go. Furniture – gone. Appliances that got wet, toss ‘em (that’s understandable, but still costly). Rugs; well, you wouldn’t want them anyway. Ring up another cost. Repairs to the house and property. Ka-ching! There’s your billions, you sun-baked sun worshippers.
Next come the cars. Down there in Florida, the damage is mostly water. Here, we’ve got some choices: flood damage, tree damage, accident damage. If your employer tells you you have to go to work, you go, unless you’re lucky to have a governor like ours who declares a state of emergency ahead of time, and say a prayer as you’re driving down the road.
The roads. Now there’s a category of billions of dollars right there. Route 287 Northbound in Boonton just collapsed. Repairs are going to be at least a day-long nightmare. Route 23 is closed from the intersection of Rt. 80 right up to the intersection with Rt. 287. This is a highway that floods regularly. In fact, highways throughout the state, from Cumberland County to Sussex County’s Rt. 15 are flooded. Power is out in many places as well. When power goes down, so do businesses.
Irene may have been a little hurricane, but it only takes a little hurricane to cause problems in a little state with a lot of people, a lot of houses, a lot of cars, a lot of heavy oak trees, a lot of roads, and a lot of streams, rivers, and dams. We’re glad that the governors of New York and New Jersey gave the extreme warnings. Those people you saw in Battery Park and other places behind the news reporters were a bunch of very stupid people just asking for a heavy tree limb to fall on them and crack their empty skulls. August is the time when trees are at their heaviest, even without a hurricane or tropical storm. Add a little more rain and a little more wind, send out the clowns, and you’ve got a walking, talking disaster on your hands.
Before you criticize us, come and visit New Jersey. Not just the Shore, but take a trip around the state just after a storm like this has passed through. But bring your helicopter, because that’s the only you’re going to get anywhere.