It was a dark and stormy night…

Hurricane Sandy on a weather map

Nothing creates fear and even hysteria like weather-related news of impending disaster.  If there’s an approaching hurricane, especially with predictions of high winds and water aimed at the Northeastern population corridor, then you can be sure that the media will be in operation for days in advance, squeezing every opportunity to maximize viewership pre, during, and post weather event. Fear is an attractive tool to use. Sometimes fear is even used as an element of control.

We do better without being buffeted by fear. While fear has a purpose, by ensuring that we exercise caution when facing the unknown, it can also be extremely debilitating. In its extreme forms it can totally paralyze us in the face of real, or imagined catastrophes. I’m convinced that the “fear foggers” know how to wield fear and use people’s emotions against them.

Beware of the fog of fear.

At the same time, you have to heed warnings about a storm like Sandy. The force of wind, water, and the damage a storm of this magnitude can cause are nothing to trifle about. If authorities tell you to evacuate, it’s best to follow their advice. Your life might depend upon it.

I respect the power that nature represents. In fact, there are portions of the country, particularly in the south that regularly have to confront hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe weather. The west coast regularly deals with mudslides, fires, and of course earthquakes.

Here in the northern reaches of the northeastern corner of the country, we have our moments during winter mainly, when wind and blowing snow wreak havoc. Add freezing rain and ice accumulation on trees, causing downed power lines, and it can be catastrophic. Who can forget the Ice Storm of 1998. That one found us without electricity for nine days, just 300 feet off the main road. Others went even longer. Two nights sans power were enough for me. Not being able to flush toilets, have sufficient light at night, or have any of the perks we take for granted—like flicking the switches of a modern home and have appliances roar to life—is fine for about 24 hours and then, it changes to inconvenience.

The build-up to Sandy began in the middle of last week and it hasn’t let up since. The track of the storm is the main reason why the media has fixated on this storm.

“This will be a storm very few people have experienced in their lifetime,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Mark Paquette, predicting the mammoth cyclone will be more disastrous than last year’s Hurricane Irene, which caused $15 billion in damage.

The eye of the storm is is touching down right now in central or southern New Jersey. New York City sits directly in the storm’s path and it’s guesswork now as to the seriousness of the effects on our nation’s largest metropolis. Currently, the city that never sleeps looks like a ghost town on all the news channels with cameras trained on the Big Apple. Wall Street and the city’s financial center are closed until Wednesday. The island of Manhattan is cut off from the rest of the world right now.

Further north, we’re expecting high winds, coastal beach erosion, and probably power outages. But compared to our friends to the south of us, we’ve managed to dodge the massive power of nature unleashed.

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