We got lucky. By ‘we’, of course, I mean, ‘me and my particular corner of Queens.’ That corner includes my mother, who weathered the storm without incident but not my brother who now has a giant tree leaning against front door of his house (the house and all inside, however are fine.) Grand disasters tend to narrow one’s focus.
In my own little corner of Queens, we didn’t lose power but we were ready to. We had our battery powered gizmos charged up, lots of candles and flashlights available, plus a giant water barrel in the back yard (55 gallons of water weighs more than 400 lbs., no way was they thing going anywhere), and canned stuff in the pantry. No leaky roof tiles showed themselves, and while my backyard looks like a tree-bomb went off, it’s nothing I can’t fix with a few hours of work.
In terms of, say, the northeast portion of the U.S., ‘we’ involves a lot of people who did not get lucky, and will continue to not get lucky as Hurricane Sandy barrels further inland to Pennsylvania then heads north towards Bufffalo, NY. For that matter, MCNY, where I work, is in the part of lower Manhattan that’s been stuck by flooding, lack of electric power and phones. I have no information on the flooding that surely occurred in the old stacks of the New York Academy of Medicine, but as it was a giant worry when I worked there, I suspect that it still is. NY College of Medicine is without power, as is Weil-Cornell Medical Center. If you’re really into mayhem, you can click here to see a beautiful movie of a ConEd transformer on 14th street exploding in a bright flash of fire and smoke. Fun times.
Coney Island is flooded, Rockaway Beach is flooded and on fire, Hoboken and central New Jersey are flooded. Atlantic City is flooded. Lower Manhattan is flooded. A big part of the reason power has gone out to so vast an area is the little publicized fact that nuclear power plants are not immune to storm surges. (Who knew?)
What I’m trying so inelegantly to say is simply, NYC and the surrounding areas, are fucked for at least a few more days and probably much longer.
It wasn’t that long ago (last year) that another lady named Irene devastated parts of Vermont; according to James Kunstler, parts of the rebuilding effort that began last year haven’t even been finished yet so it’s unclear what might have happened had Sandy trended a bit further north.
Worse than that is that this manner of storm arrival appears to be a normal feature of the weather rather an aberration. The Northeastern U.S. is now part of of the Atlantic hurricane formation zone because of rising ocean temperatures. That means that we’ll get more of them and the years in which nothing happens will eventually become the non-standard data points.
But worse that that is the fact that a man who believes that federal disaster relief is immoral and dangerous to the health of the country may quite possibly become the next President of the United States.
We shall see.