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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Proportion and the media during Harvey

[From a comment I left at Patterico's Pontifications on Sunday, August 27, 2017:]

Reporting from Houston’s Sharpstown neighborhood at 1:45pm Central:

Wherever you’re watching from, don’t completely freak out from watching the media. For some people this is genuinely catastrophic, although mostly in terms of property damage rather than injuries and deaths.

For a great many other people, though, this has so far been nothing worse than cabin fever — we’re the lucky ones. So far, “the lucky ones” include me & my dog, my ex and our kids, and our closest friends and colleagues scattered around the city.

The danger now to Houston and its environs is from flash flooding prompted by continuing rains. We’re on the “dirty side” of the eye still, meaning Harvey is still lifting moisture from the Gulf and dumping it on us. There are many reports of tornadoes, but those have been isolated and transient; wind and storm-surge damage aren’t the big problems now. Note well, and be thankful: Power outages are worse, and harder to fix, during heavy wind. As a consequence, there are an awful lot of people in Houston who still have AC and lights and internet — but we’re watching all the media reporting with one eye, and the fluctuating water levels on our streets and yards outside with the other.

The media coverage is of course lopsidedly (but appropriately) slanted to show the disastrous rather than the unchanged. There’s no shortage of breath-taking visuals and testimonials. The local TV coverage would make me crazy if I watched it continuously, so I’ve been alternating with old movies I’ve DVR’d (yes, that was also part of my storm prep). Social media — Facebook in particular — is also serving a genuine public service in this natural disaster, as a means for people to keep track of large crowds of friends and loved ones without swamping the telephone lines.

So yes, Harvey’s a disaster, very much so for some people — but not (yet) much at all for many others. It’s the proportions, and where they’ll settle out, that are still at issue.

Throughout this, I’m immensely proud of my fellow Houstonians and Texans overall. There’s lots of genuine concern leavened with experienced good humor and fellowship, but very little whinging and an astonishingly small amount of genuine panic.

Thanks for the thoughts & positive thinking, though! That certainly can’t hurt, and there are lots of less lucky folks on the Gulf Coast who need all the help of whatever type they can get.

Posted by Beldar at 01:45 PM in Current Affairs, Texas | Permalink


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