Last year, when Irene was menacing New York City, most people remembered the horrible images from post Katrina New Orleans and heeded the warnings: we filled up our bathtubs, cleaned out drains and gutters, raided grocery stores, stocked up on flashlights and batteries, evacuated the low zones and then stayed inside -- but besides a few downed trees the metropolitan area largely dodged the bullet, and most damage ended up being inland. Yet instead of feeling fortunate, many New Yorkers complained about the inconvenience of the false alarm, the subway shutting down for nothing, the hassle. The storm was a let-down, a disappointment, the preparations a waste.
"Be prepared" means get ready for the worst and don't count on that lucky break. Remember the bad experience and dismiss the good one. Evacuating under a blue sky, even though it might make you feel like a slightly hysterical nutcase (especially if the storm does not deliver the anticipated damage), is still much better than doing so in waist high, filthy floodwater. Some people did not evacuate because they remembered only the last storm, Irene, which missed them, and they forgot about Katrina. Some paid a heavy price.