Sunday 4 November 2012

Running Scared

What I simply do not understand is why Mayor Bloomberg and the organising body left it so late to cancel the New York Marathon.  As an amateur with an old cheap PC it was clear to me that even before Sandy struck very serious problems in the aftermath would be encountered and they would be complex and strain resources to the limit and maybe beyond. 

My sources were the major US ones and many people in the USA knew because the agencies and bodies who were going to have to deal with it were on high level emergency watch.  In New York itself the Mayor was constantly on screen issuing warnings and advice. 

Every year in the America’s or Caribbean somewhere a big hit occurs with devastation, tragedy and breakdowns in ordinary life.  We knew that Sandy was going to be bigger than most. 

Also, very recently there have been fierce typhoons in the East that have left a trail of misery, hunger, disease and destruction in their immediate wake. 

For just one part of the complexity and consequences as an example, see this from the Oil Drum link to Bloomberg (!!!)

So in the middle of a predictable major disaster the organisers were proposing to try to import something like up to 50,000 runners and stewards with an unknown number of followers and families and hope that about a million spectators would gather round to cheer them on with a full world media backup.

What the nastier aspect to this is that the organisers and their financial sponsors with money at risk, ING for example, possibly insisted to the authorities that to hell with the rest of them, the show must go on no matter who suffers or bears the eventual cost.  It was said that a small profit would ensue.

Did they really think they could spin their way out of a disaster by running a race through the middle of it?  As for charity donations from supporting individual runners there was nothing to stop any them redirecting their outlays either to the original charities intended or to relief funds for those with the greatest need or who had lost the most.

One worrying feature of this is the culture of expectation or entitlement that affects everyone and at every level.  We had the spectacle of a famous BBC presenter, Sian Phillips, due to run with a lot of sponsors, who had all the facilities of the BBC to hand, not only flying out there, but taking her family with her and expecting to enjoy full services, hospitality and support.

Commonsense alone should have told most, if not all, of them, that Sandy was big, nasty, dangerous and would leave a trail of chaos and desperation in its wake and that services at least would be badly disrupted or at worst in breakdown or chaos for a while.  And that chaos and breakdown is bad anywhere and worst in major urban areas.

The trouble with our highly charged and media driven political systems today is that too many do not want to know, say or hear anything untoward or unpopular.  Also, it is all somebody else’s responsibility and someone else should bear the cost and the have the trouble of sorting it out.

At least President Obama has been consistent in saying it is going to be long and difficult and costly and to their credit a number of Republicans have done the same.  What worries me about the UK and Europe is that our agencies and governments do not have anything like that mindset when serious problems are imminent.

Meanwhile in the USA there is a nasty Nor’ Easter forecast that could compound the problems.  Over here we need to think about when the weather patterns change in one place, either temporarily or longer term, they are likely to change in another.  It is a while now since we have had a really major North Sea Storm or prolonged snow.

In the last few years when peering out of the window on a train cross The Thames I have seen the water up to only a couple of feet below the edge of The Embankment walls a small number of times.  I have wondered what might happen if they rose only four or five feet higher and with continuing rain or tide surges.

The idea that the Palace of Westminster might be flooded and out of use along with much of Whitehall is an attractive thought, especially if the flood was followed by a long hard cold snap that froze everything. 

We live in hope.

1 comment:

  1. "The trouble with our highly charged and media driven political systems today is that too many do not want to know, say or hear anything untoward or unpopular."

    They don't want anyone else to say it either. I'm sure that's why blogs will never be looked on with anything but disfavour.