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September 04, 2011

About Last Night: Were We Safe? Has Anything Changed?

Like a drunk waking up and unsure of exactly what happened last night, and fearing the echoes of previous debacles, we wonder: About Last Night... Were We Safe?

The most recent previous disaster was when a heavy rain cell loitered over Washington Boulevard and four people drowned in the rain. Since then, we have seen assertions that public safety will be prioritized and ensured, we've seen the Mayor's staff assure people that if a road is open they can be sure it's safe, and yet... we've seen no indication of a change: no new policy, no new responsibility, no new operational plan.

And like a drunk, the City Mayor has assured everybody that it was a terrible one-time event, we're very sorry, you can always reach me by cellphone, it'll never happen again...

And now this morning, we're wondering about last night.

Saturday night (again, with the after-business-hours events!) a localized cell of very heavy rain formed in Pittsburgh.

This was a riskier than normal storm because it didn't form over Ohio and move east, giving us notice of it's existence and ground track; this was more of a "popcorn" cell that popped up, developed and bloomed quickly and without a lot of notice (other than the heat and humidity conditions, which make storms likely).

Fortunately, by chance this storm cell formed slightly east of Washington Blvd, and by that small margin we were spared (or we were robbed) of a chance to see what new safety plans (if any) are in place to ensure public safety.

The question is, was anybody in authority/responsibility watching? Did somebody look at it, make a judgment call that it won't be a factor, and decide "business as usual" (which would have been great)?

Or was it a weekend, after hours, and we got through it because of the happenstance location of the rainfall?

When that dysfunctional, not-really-in-control-of-himself drunk wakes up, feeling echoes of a previous disaster, wondering About Last Night: does he look into it, does he inquire and ascertain, or does he stumble into the shower/shave/coffee routine and try to muddle forward into another day?

It leaves us wondering, just like the dependants of that drunk would wonder: Has anything changed? Why will next time be any different?


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