Irene downgraded: From hurricane to hype?

A deserted street in Elmhurst, Queens. Photos by Elton Lugay

By Elton Lugay

Irene came and went, and the “historic” hurricane is now being slammed somewhat facetiously as nothing but a “sham.”

“Is it just me or does everyone else think Hurricane Irene is a sham? Just saying,” wrote actress Lora Nicolas Olaes on her Facebook wall.

At least 10 deaths were reported in North Carolina, Virginia and New Jersey, with officials, led by President Obama, urging Americans to take precautions by evacuating to safer grounds or staying indoors.

New York City closed mass transport, airports and Broadway. A mandatory evacuation was issued for low-lying areas, but not everyone heeded the advice coming from officials.

Owners Morena Tan and Rene de la Rosa of Cidela Breakfast in Battery Park were among those asked to relocate. They were in the critical Zone A area.

“The news said this is a first in the history of New York City where people are being asked to evacuate, but I’m so glad we did not go anywhere,” Morena said. “We just slept the night, and as of 9:30 this morning, we woke up to an exaggerated and very sensationalized news around the world. No damage, no strong winds, no flying objects brought by the hurricane except a small rise of water along the rivers. We survived the hurricane, or was it?”

There were more comments of dismay that flooded Facebook than debris on highly anticipated surging waters.

“Jusme, walang binatbat ang bagyo na ito sa mga naranasan nating mga nasa Pinas.”

“Still have electricity, a few branches fell on the ground and to my surprise our Sunday newspaper was delivered.”

“Some power outages, downed trees and power lines, but NYC is still here.”

“Hurricane Irene has been downgraded to tropical storm. Now I can go out and get coffee.”

“Deserted streets on Second Avenue in Midtown East. It is odd to see empty streets with only a few cabs here and there. Saw a person walking his dogs and heading to the deli on the corner. The immigrants kept this city ticking. The only stores open are run by immigrants and other hearty souls.”

“Mayor Bloomberg has done quite a good job of alerting people and taking precautionary measures,” said Ivan Roque, manager of Pommes Frites at the East Village.

Long Island resident Zue Pugh, who confessed to having a “wild imagination and a suspicious mind,” thinks the hype was meant to get people to go panic-buying “to stimulate the sagging economy.”

Mayor Bloomberg has warned about dangers to residents in low-lying areas, such as Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, the Rockaways in Queens, and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie ordered the evacuation of Capé May and much of the Jersey Shore.

Queens the morning after the storm.

At least three Filipino community events were postponed because of the weather.

The AnYo fashion show at the consulate, featuring the haute couture collections of Edgar Madamba, Richard Papa and Edgar San Diego, is being rescheduled for August 30, according to organizer Cora Reyes.

The Asap Sessionistas concert is tentatively moved to August 29 at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Queens.

Said the show’s producer Ritz Brinias: “God is reminding us all that we need to slow down and re-prioritize what is important: family and our safety.”

Elton Lugay is a journalist, publicist and community events organizer from Queens.

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