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The Cost of the Storm

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The devastation of nature confounds even man’s greatest achievements. New York City, a world icon, has been driven to her knees. Spirit in New York is seldom broken, but Sandy showed no mercy. The American East coast has never felt a firmer jolt.

We in the nation’s interior have viewed the flooding to the Gotham subway and rail system; long stretches of track and signaling equipment, along with power carrying transformers and conduits are seen completely submerged in the wake of the muddy storm. Row on row of cabs, fundamental to city commuters are all but vanished beneath the ruins of the storm. We see piers and waterways devastated, ships ripped apart, beachfront property in tatters.

We imagine the plight and the grief of the homeowners whose most solid investment, most sacred center, was reduced to rubble by fire and water.

Airports closed, the financial districts were shut and bordered; all by a storm whose size and strength dwarfed the terrible Katrina, the Atlantic hurricane of 2005. Katrina knocked out sections of the Gulf, much of New Orleans and the surrounding area, but Sandy took on the American East Coast.

Economists are already trying to evaluate the damage to our already suffering economy. They all talk like New Yorkers, with a promise of quick recovery. But the talk may be more hushed, this time, and the blow to the economy may be a knockout punch.

The state of New York and the federal government will join resources to rebuild the damaged infrastructure. The oil tycoons and importers will focus on the piers and ships, and big oil too will replace the untold thousands of gallons of water-washed gasoline stored in tanks underground. But insurance will not cover the disaster. Most insurance policies will cover flood damage only in rare instances. Home owners will face hardships we can’t imagine, trying to rebuild and keep their families safe and free from fear.

Initial estimates of the dollar cost of Sandy are in the range of $50 billion;  that seems unrealistic. Katrina cost in excess of $100 billion, but the land area swept by Sandy is significantly larger, and the property wasn’t built to undergo this type of strain. The estimates becoming available say $30 billion in lost business. The small business owner, even with government help, will find difficulty in beginning again.

Roads and bridges must be rebuilt. Runways are gone, or buried in sand. Construction atop the city that never sleeps has taken its share of the injury. We wonder if all Americans, away from the coast, away from the wreckage, will reel from  the impact.

With the presidential election days away, we imagine the turmoil the winner will feel in trying to keep life in order, in what will be a most trying time.

Photo: inhabitat.com

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • Igor

    We have created systems that are so complex and interdependent that they are bound to fail horribly under strain. All the resilience has been arbitrated out of our society. We need comprehensive federal oversight.

    Also, we need FEMA. Lucky that Romney or his ilk are not president, or there would be no FEMA. The consequent human suffering would dwarf New Orleans suffering under Katrina.

  • Deano

    Damn it, we are three comments into this thread, just four days away from the coming electoral apocalypse and no one has stated the obvious…

    Sandy is all Obama’s fault.

    There, now it’s out of the way and we can go forward knowing that nothing has been left unsaid.

  • It makes one wonder at the level of centralization we have attained as regards all aspects of our interconnected infrastructure. Come to think of it, it’s mind boggling. A feat of civilization? Perhaps. But also a reminder of how fragile it all is when confronted with the forces of nature.

    No critic of federalism can underestimate the complexity of modern life and our dependence on central government in times good or bad.

  • John Lake

    I felt odd, talking about the people in NYC, from my warm, dry place in Chicago. From what I can see on the news reports, the suffering is ongoing. We won’t forget the stories of the nurses caring for the infants.
    As a Chicagoan, the flooding of the subways took my attention.
    I think the price (in dollars) will be staggering.

  • Clavos

    I’m a little surprised by your tone in this article, John. Usually, you are meticulous; even persnickety in your restraint; you emulate the best of the legendary American reporters in your avoidance of hyperbole and exaggeration. Perhaps you were influenced by the MSM reports, most of which were sensationalistic and over-hyped, I don’t know.

    An example: you say, “…a storm whose size and strength dwarfed the terrible Katrina…” and while Sandy’s size unquestionably dwarfed that of Katrina; in fact, I think the National Hurricane Center any day now will probably declare Sandy the largest (in area) storm ever, Sandy, a Category 1 storm at landfall, was not only weaker than Katrina (Category 3 at landfall), but also than Andrew (Category 5).

    I do agree with you that the initial estimate of $50 billion in damage is much too low. In fact, if for no other reason than because of the overall density of the population of the areas Sandy hit, I wouldn’t be surprised if she winds up with top ranking in that measure as well.

    All in all, still a good read, as your articles usually are.