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OpinionEditorial

What Hurricane Hermine’s threat made clear

A beachgoer stands at the edge of the

A beachgoer stands at the edge of the water, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, in Bridgehampton, N.Y., on the southeastern shore of Long Island, where the effects of storm system Hermine could be seen in the rough surf and a ban on swimming. Hermine spun away from the U.S. East Coast on Sunday, removing the threat of heavy rain but maintaining enough power to churn dangerous waves and currents and keep beaches off-limits to disappointed swimmers and surfers during the holiday weekend. (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz) Photo Credit: AP

You’re frustrated. We sympathize.

You changed Labor Day weekend plans, canceled parties, did not go to the beach, gave up reservations, did not take a ferry to Fire Island. Instead, you stayed home based on predictions of what Hermine would do to Long Island. And it turned out to be a pretty darned good weekend in most places. Now you want someone to blame.

Stop, and remember the past. Sandy was not deemed a hurricane but wreaked havoc and left 900,000 powerless. Earl fizzled in 2010, after the Long Island Power Authority spent $21.6 million to bring in 1,600 off-Island workers. Juno was not the 2015 Snowmageddon in New York City, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo shut down the subways. But a blizzard in 2013 stranded hundreds of cars on Long Island when the LIE stayed open.

Weather is variable and forecasting is not an exact science. Yes, sometimes it seems politicians are too eager to put on windbreakers and talk tough about the weather. And, yes, it’s annoying that forecasters rarely admit that they got it wrong. And, yes, it’s infuriating that PSEG Long Island spent lots of money to bring in 800 out-of-state workers to help with widespread power outages that never materialized.

It’s more important we don’t become jaded and respond cavalierly to future warnings. The 23,000 people who temporarily lost power from Hermine had real problems, even if the rest of us were fine. That’s not to say improvements can’t be made. Officials are investigating how a voluntary evacuation order for Fire Island became a mandatory evacuation for all of Suffolk County on a TV crawl Saturday night. The message was corrected within 15 minutes, but this glitch must be fixed for good.

Carp, if you must. But be thankful that things were not that bad. And that if anyone erred, they did so on the side of caution.

—The editorial board

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