Sandy Wrecks The Northeast
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Hurricane Sandy—a tropical cyclone that reached its peak on Oct. 25, 2012—devastated the coasts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States. The hurricane is the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, impacting nearly half the states in the nation, as well as the Caribbean and eastern Canada. With winds spanning 1,100 miles and a highest wind speed of 110 mph, Sandy is estimated to have caused over $20 billion in damage. If predictions concerning business interruptions are correct, Sandy will cost more than $50 billion in damages–making it second only to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Sandy caused the most overwhelming amount of damage in New York and New Jersey, particularly on the island of Manhattan. The death toll in the U.S. has climbed to over 110 people, 48 from the devastation in New York City. Unfortunately, the death toll may continue to climb as search and rescue efforts delve into the rubble and still-flooded areas of the metropolitan area.
As the state hardest hit, New York estimated their economic losses at approximately $18 billion. Sandy flooded the entirety of New York’s underground subway system, all road tunnels entering Manhattan (with the exception of the Lincoln Tunnel), and many suburban communities. The New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street closed for two consecutive days—the first weather closing since 1985. It has been more than a century since the Stock Exchange closed for two consecutive days during the Great Blizzard of 1888. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) released a statement on Oct. 30 declaring Sandy the worst disaster of the New York subway system in its 108-year history.
Sandy affected all aspects of life in New York City. Public schools were closed from Oct. 30 through Nov. 2. The New York Aquarium lost part of its fish collection due to lack of power and extensive damages to the building. A housing crisis is now looming for the 30,000 to 40,000 New York residents still without power. Governor Andrew Cuomo stated on Sunday that the homes damaged by the super storm will soon be uninhabitable as temperatures drop this upcoming week. Homes without power are currently the biggest concern, with over two million people still in the dark throughout the Northeast.
Mayor Bloomberg officially cancelled the New York Marathon set for Sunday, Nov. 4. The race was expected to draw over 40,000 runners–which critics said would divert resources needed for hurricane victims. But the cancellation didn’t stop the dedicated. On Sunday, more than 1,000 people headed to Staten Island to bring relief supplies. Marathon runners delivered goods ranging from food to plastic bags, while others helped clear flooded homes. Jordan Metzl, a doctor of sports medicine who organized the Staten Island run, did so because he had been disappointed at the image of runners being portrayed before the cancellation of the marathon. Instead of being a nuisance to the city, Metzl wanted to provide aid, and said “Hey, we’ve got these legs that are ready to run 26 miles, why don’t we actually run in Staten Island and get things that people need?”
The relief efforts in New Jersey sparked more than humanitarian aid, providing an example of bipartisanship in the face of a crisis. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, an adamant supporter of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, collaborated with President Barack Obama in the days following Sandy. While touring the famous Jersey Shore (which some experts say is now devastated beyond repair), the two men praised each other’s relief efforts. Obama took a four-day respite from the campaign trail to take charge of storm repair on the east coast. These good relations between men previously in opposite political corners raised questions about how Obama’s relief efforts would affect his presidential campaign. When Fox News asked Christie to comment on his loyalties to Romney in the midst of the storm (literally), he retorted: “I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics … I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”
In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick urged all schools, public and private, to close their doors on Monday, Oct. 29 in preparation for the storm. Other schools joined Boston College in canceling classes for the day, including Boston University, MIT, Northeastern, and Harvard. On Thursday, Nov. 1, the American Red Cross hosted Copley Cares, a charity event benefitting the Eastern Massachusetts chapter of the Red Cross. The event, held in Copley’s Center Court, was marketed as “fashion, shopping, and after party fundraising” in which retailers donated a portion of their proceeds to the relief effort after Hurricane Sandy. Fashion showcases were held throughout Copley Place on Thursday, and discounts were given by merchandisers in order to encourage donations.
In the week following Sandy, power has been restored to approximately 60 percent of New York, with the majority of remaining outages on Staten Island. Additionally, 80 percent of the MTA Subway System was restored as of this past Saturday, Nov. 3. New York University’s Langone Medical Center, one of two New York hospitals forced to evacuate patients, reopened on Monday. Bellevue Hospital Center is expected to be out of service for another two weeks. While the New Jersey Education Association’s annual conference, scheduled for the first days of November, was cancelled, New Jersey public schools decided to schedule make-up classes in its place. Christie is in the process of making a public list of Jersey utility companies’ expected restoration dates. Despite the nor’easter expected later this week, Christie says the Northeast is on its way to “a new normal” after Hurricane Sandy.