Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Americans show us the way to cope with storm damage

East or West, the weather is always a major talking point.

America has its endless weather channels which go into inevitable overdrive when there's something major to report.

Which there has been in recent days with the double whammy of drought in the mid-west and Hurricane Isaac advancing from the east. In the end, where we were anyway, Isaac just became Tropical Storm Isaac - although still stormy enough I can tell you.

Most people we met were blasé about the dire warnings of weather Armageddon from the weather channel hacks.

Seen it, done it all before. Bought the emergency generator and bottled water. As the storm passes people just bunker down. At home or in hotels and bars.

(Most modern hostelries have solid storm proof defences.)

Pools of water are casually mopped off the bar-room floor while the sandbags are added to. There are the predictable signs of commerce cashing in on the emergency.

Did the cheap petrol really sell out almost right away at every gas station in town?

But compared to how we handle storm damage and flooding this was a bit of an eye-opener. By next morning trees that had been damaged are already cut up and taken away.

Lighting has been quickly restored. Along the coast sand which had been driven on to the road in foot deep drifts (just like our snow) was being scooped up by bulldozer.

OK so they've got bigger storm drains than us. And possibly a bigger budget. But the mop-up is so efficient because they get themselves prepared. We always seem to be blindsided by weather.

Unlike us they take it in their stride. Even though almost every aspect of life is affected.

The next day's reports of the storm come in a newspaper which advises that "Due to the hurricane this copy of your paper may have been damaged. Or may be damp..."

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