Super Storm Sandy

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Super Storm Sandy

Post by photomaster »

November 04, 2012

The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. CNN has stopped covering the recover efforts which are far from over. They are covering the pre-pre-presidential election in the United States. My deepest sympathies go out to Ohio who has to suffer far worse than New York with the mud-slinging, lies, empty speeches made to empty chairs. Am I the only person who is waiting for the lightning round where both presidential candidates enter an arena - two men enter, one man leaves... then the other leaves on stretcher?

Meanwhile, back in New York.... what the fuck was that? And by "that" I mean Superstorm Sandy. I spotted Sandy on the map, ignoring the weather media hype. yea, another "perfect storm." It was a category 1 hurricane. Katrina was category 5. Sandy was predicted to be downgraded to a tropical storm shortly after making landfall.

I looked at the computer predictions. 4 out of 5 tracks said it would slam right into Atlantic City. So, yea - that's exactly what it did. Excellent track prediction. Here in New York, few storms track right through New York City and Long Island because the prevailing winds drag them to sea. Those which hit cause some damage. We usually light a few candles when the power goes out and make the pizza delivery guy feed us in the dark.

My first clue that something was wrong was when the weather media said, "Sandy should be making landfall now." Should be? They didn't know themselves. The Long Island Power Authority, LIPA set up a website so we could follow their control room at home. It showed outages with colored triangles and followed repair crews with yellow hardhats. This was cool - and, I bet it kept a lot of people from calling to bug them about their repairs.

At 6pm, Monday November 29th, 2012 LIPA's board began to light up. My friend the next town over lost power. I began text'ing her about the repair efforts. I saw the outage appear on the board. Within an hour, crews were on the way. But, then the storm hit hard at 8pm. Crews were diverted to more damaged areas. I lost power and gracefully shutdown my computer. I tried to follow the website on my cell phone but LIPA's website crashed.

It got worse. Much worse. Several million people lost power. The winds here on Long Island were clocked at over 100mph, far greater than those at the storm's center. The cell phone towers took a beating. Phones went down. Then cell phones went down. I could not get out to the Internet on my iPhone. I was still able to text, but only once every 10 minutes. Then, once every hour. Every line of communication was choked out and darkness fell all around me.

The only source of communications I had was an AM emergency radio. It had a crank charger, solar panel, and I had charged up a week's worth of batteries for it, never thinking I would ever use it. I was able to tune to 710 AM in NYC. That station was operating on batteries, had no phones, no Internet, and could only tell us what was going on by looking out the window. The radio station decided to switch to re-broadcast NBC's television broadcast which nobody in New York could see. From the reports I was able to keep contact with the world and text my friend on her phone.

My power was restored by Tuesday night but I still had no phone, no cell phone, and text'ing was getting slower. To my amazement, FIOS had kept my TV and Internet running through the storm so I was able to get out and email people and watch the news to see the damage. Even the reporters were still gathering information. What a mess.

Subways in NYC flooded. Rail service into NYC, gone. Millions still without power. Entire towns were either washed out to sea or burned to the ground. Never has anyone seen this much destruction. This was no ordinary category 1 hurricane. It was a spiraling cloud of death which exceeded the power of Katrina.

I continued to flirt disaster. On my way home the night before the storm, there were three cars on line at my local Hess station. I had less than 1/2 tank left - more than a week's worth of gas for me and I figured it to be too much of an inconvenience to wait on that "long" line. I waited until after the storm passed. By then, the gas station had no power. Again, I waited until Thursday morning waiting for my station to re-open. The local Hess station is one of the few left in the area which does not charge extra for using a credit card so I've been giving them all my business.

By Thursday morning the news started rumors about gas supplies. I filled up at a different station. It was a little busy, but it was rush hour. By Thursday afternoon a gas crunch hit us hard. Lines ran very long and stations were sucked dry within hours. Every gas station on Long Island closed by Friday with a few exceptions. People began sleeping in their cars while waiting for gas stations to open, hoping for fuel.

Tankers could not enter New York Harbor because of debris thrown into the water. The only thing worse than a tanker which can't make port is a tanker spilling its fuel into the harbor after crashing into something. Pipelines were damaged. Power to the terminals was cut off. The government sent two tankers, one to New York and one to New Jersey with free gas for all. The New Jersey Governor turned down the offer, saying there would be a riot if he tried to give away free gas. New York accepted the offer. Guess what? It turns out that you can't just give away free gas without making things much worse. It was a nice gesture, tho.

As I type, Lower Manhattan is getting power again but still no subways. I can not phantom the enormous effort it's taken for New York to restore the majority of its subways and power right now. There are no images of the underground crews and of them making the impossible possible. LIPA has restored power to about 70 percent of the homes on Long Island but our Governor says its not good enough. I agree. 30 percent of the population still without power is unsatisfactory.

I am both mentally and physically exhausted. My damages consist of a half gallon of ice-cream which didn't make it through the blackout and I am several days behind schedule at my day job - fortunate enough for me to donate to getting New Jersey back on it's feet. New York and New Jersey have an on-going rivalry. Sometimes it gets ugly. Did you know that Jersey keeps fighting with New York over who is in charge of the Statue of Liberty? Or, something like that. Who cares?

What matters is that neither New York or New Jersey could exist without the other and it makes me sad to see so many people in Jersey suffering. Get well soon my friends.

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