x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

An NYC performance

New York City is not known for slowing down, but yesterday, Mother Nature gave her no choice.

New York City is not known for slowing down, but yesterday nature gave it no choice. As Hurricane Irene barrelled down the eastern seaboard, dumping more than 20 centimetres of rain along the way, the city that never sleeps took a day off.

Mass transit was shuttered, elder homes and coastal residences evacuated, and most New Yorkers heeded City Hall's advice to "go inside and stay inside".

Irene didn't arrive with the fury predicted earlier in the week. But a Category 1 storm still packs a punch, and when flood waters and winds are whipped up in a major metropolitan area, erring on the side of caution is prudent. Even before the Big Apple fell within Irene's eye, at least eight people had been killed in the storm.

New York's closure will no doubt be costly. Billions of dollars will be lost in commerce, services and tourism. Some on high ground might wonder what the fuss was all about.

In the end, though, Irene was not a storm to be taken lightly. New York and the East Coast are soggier, and safer, thanks to repeated warnings about preparing for the worst - something Manhattan is no stranger to.

What other highly urbanised population centre could have pulled off such a massive evacuation and shutdown within hours? Probably none.