<html> <head><style type ="text/css">body { font-family: "Bloomberg Prop Unicode I", Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:125%; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; color: #FF9F0F; background-color: #000000; text-align: left; } p {line-height: 1.25em; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" );} h1, h2, h3 { text-align: left; font-weight: normal; color: #FFFFFF; } h1 { font-size: 130%; } h2 { font-size: 115%; } h3 { font-size: 100%; } #bb-style { font-size: 90%; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" ); } b, strong { font-weight: bold; } i, em { color: #FEC54A; } pre { font-family: "Andale Mono", "Monaco", "Lucida Console"; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; line-height: 1.25em; } table { border: 0; font-size: 90%; width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } td, tr { text-align: left; } td.numeric { text-align: right; } a:link { color:#53B2F5; text-decoration: none; } a:visited {color:#53B2F5} a:active {color:#53B2F5} a:hover {color:#53B2F5} </style> </head> <body> <p>By Jonathan Weil</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>It was a stunning sight last night as I was driving up Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore, evacuating with my family to safer ground as Hurricane Irene made its way up the east coast.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>The restaurants were packed along the seven-mile drive from the little town of Beach Haven to the bridge across Manahawkin Bay that leads west to the mainland. Not one building was boarded up. I didn't see a single window all day with storm shutters on it. It was as if the place felt immune, notwithstanding the hurricane watch issued yesterday morning.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>I shudder to think this may be an accurate indicator of how well prepared coastal residents and business owners in the Northeast are for a direct hit. I grew up in South Florida, where the locals take hurricane-preparedness seriously based on long and painful experience. Up here where canes come about as frequently as earthquakes -- could we really have both in less than a week? -- folks don't seem to have a clue.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>We are holed up for now in a hotel room well inland, unsure of when we'll be able to return to the cute little condo that we rented a block from the beach. Hopefully it will still be there next week after the storm passes.</p>&#xD; &#xD; <p>(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist)</p> </body> </html>