Was Hurricane Irene coverage too much? Local expert weighs in

By: Rick Springer Email
By: Rick Springer Email

SHERMAN, TX - Many are wondering if all the Network T-V coverage along the east coast for Hurricane Irene was necessary. We talked with one local expert who says yes, but sometimes all the hype can negatively affect storm preparations.

With more than thirty deaths reported in nine states, at least 4 million homes and businesses without power, and billions of dollars in damages, Irene was definitely a force to be reckoned with.

"Irene has been a very big storm but there was a certain amount of expectation," said Dr. Kevin Simmons, Austin College economics professor.

Many families along the east coast will return to find their homes undamaged which has Simmons, who has done extensive research on the effect of storm warnings, concerned about what he calls the "cry wolf effect".

"Are you going to be a little bit more reluctant to leave next time that a hurricane heads your way? And, if you can make inferences on our false alarm study on tornados and extrapolate that over to hurricanes, then the answer would be yes," Simmons said.

All the major news networks went wall to wall with hurricane coverage over the weekend, but Simmons says that's just the nature of the beast.
"You can't fault them for that. I mean, CNN doesn't make any money if people switch over and watch Fox."

Grayson county college student Heather Biglin has family in New Jersey. They were hit by the hurricane and Biglin says they were all very shaken. "My sister's terrified. She's twelve. She's said there were tornados everywhere. And see, I didn't hear any of that on the news, but she said that there were a bunch of them all over the county."

And while there were probably many families along the coast that didnt need to be evacuated, Simmons says better safe than sorry.
"It is far better to have people angry at you because you overprepared for an event than have the reverse happen."

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