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Reading the coverage of the Irene aftermath, I am painfully reminded that the media (possibly much of the public?) only have two narratives when it comes to disasters:

1) Meh. It wasn't so bad. Silly media hype.
2) WHY WEREN'T WE BETTER PREPARED??

As @mfhawkes said on twitter: "No dramatic footage to play for "prep adequate, outcomes broadly good; room for improvement but best made of available resources"
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Testify. I can tell you this is true around me: prep adequate, broadly good, learned stuff. And just damn lucky it wasn't worse, which was entirely unpredictable.
 
Thank you so much for this observation.
 
"Everything went pretty well" and "we did our best and also got lucky" aren't really narratives we're trained for in any situation. In fact, we're trained that those are the opposite of good stories.
 
Why couldn't national media have simply said, "Get the hell outta the path of this damn thing. It's serious. Now back to regular programming."
 
Happy to hear some good sense. Prep is not because something bad is going to happen but to avoid it from happening.
 
Sometimes I wonder in the media, working at a news outlet that's had so many staffing cuts in the past few years, if some of our limited narratives don't come from us not having enough people to chase more than a couple angles on a story any more.
 
I think we've had a variety of "narratives" on NPR, from a couple who couldn't travel to Ukraine to adopt their baby to insurance agents who are preparing for the coming claims to many voices in between.

Not sure what news you're consuming, but sometimes I think that criticism of news may be a reflection of the news one consumes, not news in general.
 
There is also an unhealthy obsession with the deathtoll...an unspoken desire to have record numbers.
Ed Yong
 
Nina, sure people tell human stories affected by disasters but I more meant the narratives about the event itself and the preparations for it.

As to what news I consume, it's whatever people push at me
 
I agree entirely with Ed's post and the general tenor of comments, but for me the worst has been the anti-government, anti-FEMA carping from the right. Most ghoulish was probably Ron Paul, who said explicitly that the Federal government should have no role - that he represented Galveston, which has severe hurricane problems, and that things would be much better if we did it in the community-based way real Americans did it in 1900.

Ah, yes. Galveston in 1900, the place where 6000 Americans drowned in a hurricane.
 
Well said, Bill Noble, about Galveston. I'm grateful to have some of these gov't agencies around to help, and I'm happy to pay taxes to support them, especially around emergency planning and management. Not that agencies can't make mistakes, but odds are they will bring in experts from various fields to plan and coordinate efforts that will lead to better outcomes than if some ragtag bunch of neighbors, with no expertise, cobble something together.
 
+Susie Bodman Actually, FEMA has an extraordinary history. It was started by Jimmy Carter, and was an instant world model, as was its director. It slipped under Republican Presidents, was revived under Clinton, but it wasn't until W that it was deliberately destroyed and turned into a sort of joke patronage repository. It's now recovering substantially, and I suspect will be found to have been at least modestly effective with Irene.
 
+Bill Noble I hope folks do appreciate FEMA more after Irene. I have sorority sister from college that has worked for FEMA, and it always seemed like a good agency with folks doing good work, despite efforts of W to gut it.
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