Hurricane Irene: “Mass hysteria can create its own public health crisis”

What are the dangers to overreacting to an approaching hurricane?

To hear the Today show tell it, they’re minimal.

Pamela Marcus of Kensington has a different perspective. Her parents reside in one of New York City’s Irene evacuation zones, about a half-mile from the ocean. On Friday, Marcus wrote, “We have evacuated them to Westchester (near my sister), simply because they can’t be moved at the last minute and if they wind up in a shelter they would be eaten alive. As the storm downgrades, I have to wonder if our actions were necessary....mass hysteria can create its own public health crisis.”

So is Marcus one of those people who’ll place less credence in storm warnings the next time around? ”I don’t place much credence in them now,” she replies. “I prefer to draw my own conclusions. I examine the data and the evidence, talk with intelligent friends and experts in the field (I have a friend who is an amateur meteorologist), weigh the evidence, think a lot, and then make my decision.” Figures: She’s an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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