NYers (remarkably) don't complain after Irene

You've probably the heard the old saying: "Better to be lucky than good." Well, when it comes to how well-prepared the people who run New York City were for Irene, it's fair to say they were both.

CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that, as some New Yorkers sloshed around their basements bailing out floodwaters, and others contended with more than 650 downed trees Sunday afternoon, those who'd been ordered to leave for higher ground returned to their homes.

"I think shutting the city was a good thing," said Rob Kuchar, New York resident.

There was remarkably little complaining among the Big Apple's residents.

"If they had under-prepared and people had been injured, had died, homes had been flooded, they would have been criticized," said Jenny Butler, another resident.

No knows that better than New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"It's our responsibility to make sure everybody is safe in the city," Bloomberg said.

The mayor was sharply criticized for the city's slow response to last winter's blizzard. Not this time: Bloomerg was proactive, shutting down the subway system yesterday at noon.

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In response to a question about people criticizing his Irene for being overblown, Bloomberg said: "Well, they should look in a mirror. They're alive today whether because of it or in spite of it."

Also helping the city get ready for Irene was all the counter-terror training the NYPD conducts, as Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley.

"For instance, in being able to mobilize large numbers of police officers and actually create that task force for our counter-terrorism efforts will be helpful in this regard," Kelly said.

Add in the fact that, in this post-Katrina world, if politicians are going to risk catching heat, it's going to be for doing too much, not too little.

Dr Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, said: "The choice is to act early and heavily, and then take the risk of it wasn't as bad as we'd thought and then they overreacted. Or worse, wait and not to intervene and have this thing be the worst case scenario and then you have a much more complex and difficult situation that you are dealing with."

There is another factor New Yorkers can consider: At the end of the day, Irene never delivered a big wallop there.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.

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