Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Sandy Strikes the Mid-Atlantic, Preparedness Pays
Hurricane Sandy battered the mid-Atlantic on Monday, Tuesday and continues to impact a large swath of this country. Airports are closed, although Regan is now open to some traffic and perhaps JFK will open later this afternoon. Atlantic City and southern New Jersey took the brunt of the storm as it landed on shore yesterday at about 6pm eastern time. Winds topped 100mph in Manhattan, buckling a large crane at 157 West 57th Street in Manhattan. It was 1000 feet above the ground. Water gushed into the closed subway system, feet deep, causing the subway system as well as AMTRAK to remain closed today. Buses are expected to perhaps start running later today in Lower Manhattan. The death toll of 29 continues to rise. The HMS Bounty, a ship off the coast of North Carolina capsized and was sunk, as the Coast Guard worked hard to save almost all of the crew, but lost a deck hand and may have lost the captain. The Red Cross with the aid of local authorities is busy setting up shelters in towns and cities throughout the northeast hit by the storm. Electric companies, such as PG&E, from as far out in California, are sending crews in to help get power back online in the neighborhoods. President Obama has signed emergency declarations to enable federal funding to start flowing to the effected 8 states and the District of Columbia. FEMA is hard at work.
The local police and emergency vehicles patrolled the streets of all impacted cities yesterday urging residents to take shelter before the storm and storm surge hit. The Holland and Brooklyn Battery tunnels closed yesterday at 3pm. After the storm struck, fires broke out in neighborhoods, destroying over 50 homes in Breezy Point, Queens. Falling debris continues to be a problem. Persons were injured in Point Pleasant, N.J. by falling signs. Over 50 feet of the boardwalk at Point Pleasant was destroyed. Sand from the near-by beaches laid in large lumps blocks inland from the beach, large piles in the road. There is no doubt such storms are causing the erosion of our beaches. The authorities will work to remove and hopefully save that sand. West of the beach, snow continues to fall in West Virginia as the storm moved north and spreads west, at its impeccably slow snail’s pace. For the second time since 1985, the stock market remains closed for the second day. Governor Chris Christie had emptied the casinos in Atlantic City at 4pm Sunday, well ahead of the storm yesterday, giving warnings to evacuate to all over this past weekend. It was only the third time in the gaming industry’s 34 years in New Jersey that the casinos were closed. City wide curfews started taking effects last evening in all major cities. All of our federal, state and local public servants- police, fire, emergency personnel, plus all of the news channels weather crews, have been up helping all to get the information out to brave this storm, including Governors Cuomo, Christie, and Mayor Bloomberg An explosion of a power station in lower Manhattan last evening caused thousands to be without power. Storm surges came over the walls in Battery Park causing cars to slam into one another. Lights remained out last evening in lower Manhattan, and those who chose not to evacuate because they were on the border with Zone A in Manhattan, remained indoors. The NYU Lagone Medical Center needed to evacuate their patients due to the storm surge flooding into Manhattan. Bridges and public transit remain closed. The only bright note reported on the news is that some ski resorts in Western Virginia may open sooner than expected. The cleanup will continue for weeks. Insurance monies will be available to perhaps cover at least 50% of the damage.
Throughout it all, our Statute of Liberty remains intact, battling the water surges pushing against her. With the power of FEMA, the state and local governments and with the help of non-profit organizations like the Red Cross and the private sector, we will get through this storm, clean up and move forward. The storm, like many others, will travel north through Pennsylvania, upstate New York, and exit into Canada and eventually out to the North Atlantic. Along its path, the winds will continue to bring down branches and trees, but the rain and potential for widespread flooding is not expected to be as severe as in Irene. Looking back to Irene, a year ago, vs. what occurred yesterday, we can say we are better prepared for these disasters than we were a year ago, and certainly much better prepared than we were in responding to Katrina. The disaster preparedness and response is not only quicker, more efficient and streamlined, but the message is being heeded by the public at large, who are listening, preparing and evacuating when so instructed. We are faster at mobilizing the resources needed to respond, the weather warnings are coming earlier and are being taken seriously by local and state governments disaster respond teams, now in place. And the public is helping, by themselves planning, preparing and following the instructions of our tireless public servants. The state of affairs today is that we are accepting these natural disasters as becoming part of our daily lives.