Don’t believe everything you see on the internet: Hurricane Irene was not a non-event in New York City. This is my old neighbourhood: Rockaway Beach (specifically Belle Harbor) Queens last Sunday morning:
This is B (as in Beach) 131st Street; our home was on B 127th. This is the worst flooding in 50 years. The surge was “only” 4 feet–had it been 5 or more feet these houses would’ve all beeen full of sand and filthy seawater (storm surges are full of shells, fish, crabs and any garbage floating around). As it was many homeowners got a few feet of water in their basements thanks to Irene.
Would I have evacuated as ordered? Nope: even with a big surge, the places I’d be staying in would be concrete or brick and large. I’d’ve totally been there with my camcorder! But if I had kids? Different story.