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.