"Irene is a hurricane that poses an extraordinary threat and is one that no one has yet experienced in North Carolina to the mid-Atlantic to the Northeast and New England...
"...There is historical precedence for a hurricane impacting the major metropolitan areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast but these hurricanes are rare.
"However, with a population explosion along coastal areas of the Northeast during the past several decades, a hurricane this strong hasn't affected the Northeast urban corridor for at least the past two decades.
"Regardless of track and intensity, confidence is growing that Hurricane Irene will cause extensive tree and power line damage. Electricity infrastructure will be greatly compromised for millions if not tens of millions of Americans.
"Recent heavy rains over parts of the Northeast, especially New Jersey, have made tree root systems highly vulnerable. Flooding rains combined with high winds will add to tree destruction."
This is on top of the rare powerful east coast earthquake earlier this week. Even without losing power, it caused residents to scramble for a basic action plan, evacuate buildings and to some extent cities, and, most disturbingly, to lose cell and landline functionality. Ten years after 9/11 -- and after huge investments in mobile internet infrastructure, which didn't really exist back then -- it's shocking and unacceptable.
CNN reports that "For as long as an hour after the quake, wireless customers in Washington and elsewhere reported being unable to get calls through." Also that the FCC is investigating. However, what's to investigate. The system as it stands does not work in a time of crisis.
Sounds like a clear siren to rebalance exposure.