Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Crisis Messaging in the Hurricane
When your only link to the outside world is a battery-operated radio. you tend to pay a lot of attention to what the public officials are saying. Public officials have been taking the microphone throughout Hurricane Sandy's onslaught, and I've been giving them good marks for Crisis Messaging. (Click on the link to read my previous post about this subject.) For people like me whose neighborhoods weren't hit very hard, these briefings have been informative. But for those who lost homes, cars and livelihoods, they have been a lifeline of hope.
The incredible wind and waves have brought disaster, but our leaders' radio voices reassure us that recovery is possible. They appeal to our best selves, while they caution us to "not be stupid." We listen to all they have to say, filtering it for the specific bits of news we each need to know, and the hope we all need to feel.
We don't know a lot. We don't know how long it will take to reinstate the power grid, the subways, or the trains. All are a shambles. We don't know when bridges will be passable. We don't know the new shape of our coastline. We don't know when we will see more gasoline tanker trucks pulling into our corner gas stations (with many local fuel pumps displaying Out Of Gas signs, those of us who still have functioning cars are nervous about obtaining the gas to drive them).
Whatever the future holds for New York, we will all look back on these first few post-Sandy days as a time when we came to grips with the chaos and coalesced into action. We did this under the leadership of calm voices that offered solace and sympathy even as they provided structure in the midst of our shapeless fear.