Hurricane Sandy, in my first post, had not yet become what is arguably the worst natural disaster to hit New York in over a hundred years. When I wrote that post Sandy was still a few hours away from making landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Right before it hit Atlantic City on October 29th 2012 at 8:00pm (0000 GMT October 30th) it was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm. Not that you would notice: old people living on the Jersey shore said it was the worst thing they had ever seen. Its winds were not as strong as when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and arguably Sandy hit Haiti harder, but in the living memory of the New York region only 9/11 was worse:
- Along the shore it washed away boardwalks, houses, bridges and part of an amusement park. Some people lost everything.
- Over 8 million lost power – a fourth of New Jersey and three-fourths of Long Island, among others. After two days 6 million were still without power.
- Two nights later the Manhattan skyline below 34th Street was still dark.
- It flooded the New York subway and the tunnels under the East River. The last station of the #1 Train in lower Manhattan was filled almost to the ceiling with water.
- Over a hundred houses burned down in Rockaway, Queens.
- The streets of Hoboken are flooded with sewage, making it unsafe for people to leave their buildings.
- In New York 174 schools are too damaged to be opened.
- The stock exchange was shut down for two days – the longest due to weather since the blizzard of 1888.
- It will likely be the deadliest hurricane to hit New York since at least 1821.
Some people were hit hard, other barely touched.
Tons of old people, rich and poor, are stuck in their high-rise apartment buildings in lower Manhattan. If power is not restored soon many could die. FEMA and the Red Cross seem to be nowhere in sight.
After three days part of the subway is working, but not the heart of it in lower Manhattan. Buses are running but are packed. It takes for ever to get anywhere.
Sandy was huge: nearby American states and Canadian provinces were hit too. In Ohio, for example, it brought snow and knocked out power for 247,000 people. It arrived in Ontario with winds still over 100 km/h.
At least 70 have died so far in the north-east. Many were killed by falling trees. Many more were old people living alone who drowned in their homes.
I got my power back after two days, which was pretty quick under the circumstances. It was not till then, when I could see pictures of the destruction on television and the Internet, that I understood how bad it was. Reading about it in the New York Times does not begin to do it justice.
So far President Obama, Governor Christie of New Jersey and Mayor Bloomberg of New York have shown leadership and seem to be serious about helping the region recover, but this thing is far from over.