Millions of families anticipating chaos in the US around Irene cancelled arrangements and chose to stay at home so that they could watch all the devastation as it happened in New York and other American cities along the East Coast as hurricane Irene hit land.
Families gathered patiently around the TV sets, with their excitable children pumped after the warnings all week of the approaching storm. These families felt assured that staying indoors on the last weekend of the summer would be worth the sacrifice as they would witness a once in lifetime opportunity to see a real disaster unfold. Many decided to hold parties to invite friends and relatives, as well as hiring expensive equipment so that they could see and hear the hurricane in the best quality. The carnival like atmosphere on Saturday night into Sunday morning was quickly replaced by anger as the threat was downgraded to a tropical storm.
Now however families suddenly had to contend with dejected children who felt they had been cheated and were having to answer difficult questions like 'why has America let us down again'. Having grown up on a diet of American disaster films that often depict New York's iconic landmarks like Statue of Liberty and Empire State building suffering at the hands of a natural disaster, it seemed things had come full circle for Europeans. This real life event seemed like mother nations finally understood that the world only really took notice of her destructive power if she struck at the city that never sleeps.
President Obama faced angry calls today from European leaders including Angela Merkel of Germany and Nicholas Sarkozy of France asking how he could have allowed the weather reporters and hurricane watchers to get so carried away. These tense calls were not dampened down by the fact that several American lives had been lost already and that there was now a risk of flooding, so there was still a nervous few more hours to go.
David Cameron Prime Minister of Britain was on holiday whilst this was all happening but had sent a postcard to Obama saying how stormy it was in Cornwall where he is with his family and he knew how the Americans felt in this time of crisis.
Other British leaders were not so kind, and felt their media had been tricked into wasting considerable amount of resources on covering the event, when they could have focussed on more important good news stories at home. The most vocal was the British Weatherman's Lobby which argued that had the US reports been more balanced, the British media would have been able to make a more rational judgement.
Instead, millions of families faced huge bills, on already tight budgets, for a weekend that involved them watching a bit of wind and rain. Now parents have had to contend with disillusioned children who will take a long time to forgive their parents or the USA. Many Europeans have vowed they will not step on America soil because they feel so mistreated.