Tags: snowstorm | government | mayor de blasio

Government's Abysmal Storm Response

Government's Abysmal Storm Response
Bicycles covered in snow are seen in Manhattan on November 15, 2018, in New York City. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 20 November 2018 04:56 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The November snowstorm hit with a punch. Yet for all the talk about how unusual this nor’easter was, three things emerged that were eminently predictable.

First, weather forecasters were wrong. Again.

Second, the response from government was reprehensible, causing nightmare commutes upwards of twelve hours. In fact, snow removal efforts were so nonexistent that students in one New Jersey town didn’t have a snowball’s chance to make it home — and were forced to spend the night in school.

And third, the pass-the-buck blame game is in full swing: politicians are absolving themselves of culpability by blaming meteorologists, while weather folks are hammering pols for their poor response. What both fail to realize is that we the people paid the price for their malfeasance. The big question is whether anything will change.

Let’s look at this storm debacle:

If forecasters had any brains, they would have begun their “post-storm” news with a mea culpa:

“We were wrong and not just regarding this storm. Accurately predicting the weather is a complex task, but all too often, we either shamelessly hype storms that we know won’t materialize into the ‘monster event’ du jour, or under-report storms that could cause problems. In both cases, we realize that our irresponsibility severely interrupts every facet of your lives. For that, we apologize. Moving forward, we pledge our loyalty to more accurate forecasting not appeasing the ratings gods.”

Stormtrackers, Weather Authorities, Mobile Weather Labs, Double Scans, and Mega Dopplers: when is enough enough — especially when they can’t provide accuracy when it matters most?

Newsflash: we don’t care what Alberta Clippers and polar vortexes are. We only need to know what it’ll be today, tomorrow, and the next few days. 

And we don’t need “team coverage” bringing us the same old pictures of salt being loaded into trucks, plows being readied, and people saying how cold it is. But most of all, we don’t need the patronizing condescension of weather-folks and bureaucrats telling us to “be careful,” “take it easy,” “slow down,” and “stay off the roads.” Gee, thanks, because we wouldn’t have known that had you not shoved it down our throats eight times over the last half hour. 

Too many news directors spend more time trying to keep their jobs than doing them, subscribing to the herd mentality of copying their competitors. So good luck waiting for that apology, since they see nothing wrong with how they performed.

Forecasters’ incompetence notwithstanding, the response of government was atrocious. In many municipalities, roads weren’t brined, salt wasn’t laid, and roads remained unplowed. The result was unprecedented gridlock. Emergency crews could not respond to 9-1-1 calls, and tow trucks were unable to reach disabled vehicles. Many eventually abandoned their cars to relieve themselves, seek warmth, or feed their small children.

And all that because of a few inches of snow. So why the massive government failure?

Because incompetent bureaucrats have forgotten for whom they work, and haven’t a clue about how to handle an unanticipated crisis. But commissioners, mayors, and governors report directly to the people, and they should be held accountable for failing their constituents.

Instead of mindlessly watching forecasters, township managers, and state transportation officials should have used common sense by looking out their windows. Had they done so, they would have realized that the rain and warming temperatures weren’t coming as quickly as expected.

Rather than remaining impotent, they should have ordered the plows to immediately hit the roads. Of course, had they brined beforehand, their job would have been measurably easier. But in most places, none of that occurred.

Laughably, one of many excuses was that people would have frowned upon salting and plowing where only an inch or two was forecast. Wrong. “Better safe than sorry” should rule the day for everyone in winter. The fact that “seasoned” government officials still don’t understand that should be remembered in the next election.

A smart politician, even after attempting to do everything right, would still take blame for what went wrong. By “manning” up, he’d demonstrate that indelible quality called humility, and ingratiate himself with people who just went through hell — people without the benefit of police motorcades and helicopters.

But such an attitude was nonexistent with New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. Instead of apologies for the pandemonium they helped cause (people locked out of NY/NJ Transit bus terminals, the George Washington Bridge effectively shut down, and school students being dropped off at 3 a.m.), they instead blamed forecasters, showing just how out-of-touch they are.

Both have been justifiably buried under an avalanche of criticism. Yet, incomprehensibly, they have dismissed any notion that they should be held accountable.

The political graveyard is littered with incumbents who crashed and burned not because of policy changes, but because they were too proud to say two words — “I’m sorry” — when they screwed up.

The adage that you “can’t fight city hall” isn’t true anymore. The snowballing question is whether citizens will roll over and accept the snow job that was dumped on them, or if they will boot their leaders into the cold at the next election.

One thing’s for sure: if they allow their fury to melt, they’ll be the biggest snowflakes of all.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris FreindClick Here Now.

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The November snowstorm hit with a punch. Yet for all the talk about how unusual this nor’easter was, three things emerged that were eminently predictable.
snowstorm, government, mayor de blasio
Tuesday, 20 November 2018 04:56 PM
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