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Some Hidden Casualties of Hurricane Sandy

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It’s peculiar to have been in the midst of the superstorm and have suffered pretty much nada in the way of immediate effects. Quite a few people known to readers of this blog are below 34th Street and are without power: our Tom Adams, Lynn Parramore, Josh Rosner, and Michael Crimmins, just to name people who’ve written for NC. Lambert in Orono, Maine, was hit by an isolated power outage, and still did Campaign Coverage from a nearby university library. I’m sure most readers know people who got a serious dose of the storm, whether in the New York metro area or elsewhere in the East Coast.

The Chicago Tribune says 6.2 million on the East Coast are now without electricity. One of the first damage reports was of a crane on 57th Street that became unmoored on the construction site of what will be the most costly condos in the city (I hope the developer gets a massive fine). All the tunnels into the city are flooded, as are major portions of the subway and the PATH train. Coney Island Hospital was reportedly the scene of a fire (later accounts are less clear as to why emergency calls went out) and NYU’s Lagnone Hospital was being evacuated due to the loss of its backup generators. There are dramatic photos of cars nearly submerged on the Lower East side, water gushing into car basements, one of the front ripped off a building in Chelsea. The West Side Highway and portions of the FDR Drive were underwater (and comments regular craazyman’s car somewhere in the East 90s got waterlogged!). Needless to say, in addition to the Rockaways (which were an evacuation zone) substantial parts of Brooklyn and the New Jersey shore are flooded, as well as parts of some commuter communities like Hoboken.

Some samples. This one of the PATH looks to be on its way to becoming iconic:

FDR Drive under water:

Battery Park flooding (Anthony Quintano/NBC News):

This video is of a substation at 14th Street blowing out. Con Ed has no explanation, but this was a big contributor to the blackout in southern Manhattan (Con Ed did choose to take some of Lower Manhattan down before the storm surge hit):

And a personal favorite (no verifying authenticity) of a shark in New Jersey (hat tip Lynn Parramore):

The immediate focus is on the loss of life (16 people dead so far), the dangers to safety (downed trees, hazardous roads, lack of power) and the damage to property, both damage to structures and the loss of business income (such as to retailers, hotels, restaurants, and airlines). Of course, some other commentators are already discussing whether, despite the current passion for austerianism, the devastation might lead at least to an uptick of construction spending for repairs, and maybe a bit of disaster Keynesianism, particularly if reports highlight the role that deferred maintenance and modernization played in worsening the effects of the storm. The New York Times gives an initial take:

Even as businesses struggled on Monday to gauge and contain the damage from Hurricane Sandy’s slow move up the East Coast, economists played down the likely long-term effects. The recovery after the storm, they said, could actually pump up growth temporarily in a few sectors, like construction and retail sales, when cleanup begins in earnest in a few days…

Over all, economic losses from the storm could range from $10 billion to $20 billion, according to an analysis by Eqecat, a firm that performs catastrophe risk modeling for the insurance industry and government. On that scale, big insurers might account for $5 billion to $10 billion in losses.

While the impact on New York City is not a major part of this calculation, there’s a big way the damage could last much longer, and that’s via how long it takes to get the subways fully operational again. From the Wall Street Journal:

The subway system is “in jeopardy,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said Monday. “Our subway system and salt water do not mix.”

Salt can eat at motors, metal fasteners and the electronic parts, some many decades old, that keep the system running. Salt water, and the deposits it leaves behind, degrades the relays that run the signal system, preventing train collisions. Salt water also conducts electricity, which can exacerbate damage to signals if the system isn’t powered down before a flood…

Agency officials couldn’t say how quickly the subway could be brought back into operation, but Mr. Lhota told a television crew in Manhattan late Monday it could be at least one week before service returned…

Klaus Jacob, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, wrote in a report last year that it could take as long as 29 days to pump out a full inundation of the tunnels.

Further confirmation comes via this tweet from Anthony DeRosa: MTA on the line with Weather Channel: “We have to examine the entire 600 miles of subway track before we consider even turning it back on.”

A panegyric by Bill McKibben at the Guardian mourns the damage to the subway system but weirdly misses the real significance. On weekdays, the system has 5.3 million rides on average, so if you figure an average of a bit over two (most but not all taking round trips), it easily handles over 2 million people a day. Some are commuters within the more affluent parts of Manhattan (Upper East or West Side to Midtown or downtown) who can in many cases use busses or cabs as an alternative, but a lot are from Brooklyn, Queens, or parts of Manhattan (Harlem, Inwood) where walking is impractical and income levels make cab or livery service out as an alternative. And even if the city gooses up bus service in the interim, it simply can’t move enough people to compensate.

What is going to happen to these people for the week or more while the subway is put back into service? The five boroughs has income disparity as high as China. Many of these people are modestly paid hourly workers, and some will be hit hard by the loss of even a week of income. These are the people you might or might not notice, yet are critical to the functioning of the city: the janitors, the cooks and delivery men, the people who run newsstands and dry cleaners and cobblers and food carts, the people who do secretarial and clerical work in businesses large and small throughout the city. And some are in more obviously important support roles, such as hospital orderlies, private duty nurses, home health aides, nurses and dental hygienists. And if the owners of some of these small business owners can’t get into the city and have to leave their shops shuttered or on reduced hours, they still have to pay the rent. There will be distress that will, as always, strike people who are not well placed, and here it will be by virtue of depending on the subway. The New York Times no doubt will deign to notice, particularly if the subway isn’t largely back in service relatively soon (after all, the limited availability of the service class will be visible to the upper income types that are the core of the Times’s readership; the really rich have live-ins and drivers and will be, as always, largely insulated). But will the real impact on this group be measured well and treated as a serious cost of this disaster? Pretty unlikely.

So let’s hope that the MTA chiefs are being conservative and the transit infrastructure will be back in service comparatively soon. McKibben is right in this respect:

New York is as beautiful and diverse and glorious as an old-growth forest. It’s as grand, in its unplanned tumble, as anything ever devised by man or nature. And now, I fear its roots are being severed.

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67 comments

  1. dearieme

    When I was but a lad, my father explained to me that politicians were always game for expenditure on shiny new toys but were loath to spend money on protecting, maintaining and repairing old infrastructure (as he then didn’t call it). His examples included the water pipes, sewers, underground railways and so on, built from Victorian times onward. I suppose the Thames Barrage is a nice example of being a device to stop the tube flooding while simultaneously being a shiny toy that politicians can boast about: well done to whoever thought of it.

    1. jake chase

      The devastation in NYC is evocative of the fire in Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again. It reminds that NYC life always hangs below a knife edge; too many people in too small a space, too many critical systems allowed to deteriorate and decompose. Here’s hoping something gets done for those on the desperate bottom rungs, that
      the authorities and the powers are for once responsible, and that this is not followed up by giant rip offs or a financial crash.

      1. leomeon

        This describes modernized life anywhere in the first world.

        Even if you have 100 acres of land in Iowa, you’d be screwed just as well in the event of a major disaster. Even the “self-sufficient” need petrol, electricity and all the trappings of civilization.

        unless of course you’ve stocked up on lumber, mechanical looms and have an ample stock of work animals.

    2. Fíréan

      A subway system without safety doors to seal it, especially in low lying areas (or at risk of flooding) and in the twenty-first century seems a little unbelievable !

      The USA appears to be way behind in renewing and updating the infrastrucure, or is it just New York ? Did they not learn from Katrina years ago ? Or review the advances made and measures taken by other countries ?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        1. The New York City transit system is one of the oldest in the world. It is much harder and more costly to retrofit old infrastructure than build new to current standards

        2. The MTA has had budget problems for years. Most public transit systems are more heavily subsidized than the MTA is. It’s put through regular fare increases and is not cheap if you are low income. But it has been underinvesting for years. See:

        http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/politics/2012/02/5177771/former-pa-head-chris-ward-withering-new-york-transit-and-bad-politi

        It also, like many transit authorities, lost money on Libor related swaps:

        http://www.thenewyorkworld.com/2012/09/11/mta-vows-full-libor-recovery/

        1. vlade

          The oldness of the infra might also cause problem with getting it up and running again.

          If they were like London Tube running on super-old signalling equipment, it may be hard to get enough of that to fix all what has been hit (and I’d say that any electronic equipment submerged in salt water for any length of time is very likely a write-off – or at least should be from the reliability perspective).

          Putting a brand new stuff in is fraught with problems too (just look at some of London lines).

          Hopefully, with the closure they should have been able to get the cars into safet, as fixing a large number of those in short time would be a problem.

        2. Fíréan

          Thank You for Your reply and the links, i will follow up.

          The transit systems are essential to the functioning of the city, the public transit systems benefiting everyone including those who do not directly make use of the transport. They ought be subsidized and not just dependent upon fares for income as the full and effecient working of the system is essential for the functioning of the whole city, the inner city and it’s environs.

        3. Francois T

          I perversely hope the subway system stay closed long enough for politicians to have to answer very pointed and burning questions about their abysmally stupid incompetence in systematically underfunding such a critical piece of the infrastructure ecosystem.

          Enough of this testosterone gonzo-shithead way to drive politics.

          Speaking of Sandy and politics…anyone has seen the upcoming cover page of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine?

          *very wide evil grin*

    3. Carla

      “my father explained to me that politicians were always game for expenditure on shiny new toys but were loath to spend money on protecting, maintaining and repairing old infrastructure” although he didn’t call it that…

      Why don’t we just call it, “the things people really need?” Sounds better and more accurate than “old infrastructure.”

      Like dearieme’s dear old dad, we all know that politicians are loath to spend on “the things people really need” so let’s throw the bums OUT.

      1. LifelongLib

        Having been involved in a very small way in similar decisions (condo association) I know how tempting it is to think “we can make the budget work if we just put off doing X for one more year”.

  2. rjs

    knowing most of you are east coast, some news from the midwest; yesterday they banned truck traffic from the ohio turnpike because of the wind…cant say i recall that happening before…

    overnight i heard reports of 17 inches of snow in west va with blizzard warnings continued till late wednesday, & winter storm warnings as far south as Tenn & N Carolina…

    & there are storm warnings on lake michigan – 20 feet waves at the south end expected…

  3. prostratedragon

    Amsterdam. Venice. London, as dearieme just pointed out. All great, wealthy cities that have dealt actively with water issues by some form of public process, and with some sense of preparing for a future of more difficult, but still possibly manageable, conditions, given facts that have been known and accepted for quite a few years.

    Going on twelve years of helmsmanship by the great visionary captain of —whatever it is that Bloomberg is captain of— and what does the island metropolis of New York City have? A jumbo soda pop ban.

    Guess you all should have let him do whatever he wanted over on the West Side, to engage his mind.

    (Everyone does know, don’t they, that it would probably have been even more useless to start the necessary discussions under that predecessor of his.)

    ____________________________________________
    “I’m going to let them find you on their own.”

    1. Ed

      I hate to defend Bloomberg, but the office of Mayor of New York (and by extension the city government) is politically a strange creature. Key parts of what you would think of being functions of the city government, namely the subways, seaport and airports, are controlled by other agencies. The Mayor does have alot of say on real estate development, however.

      1. Ms G

        Well, actually Bloomberg gets to appoint people to the boards of the MTA and the Port Authority. Some of those appointments have been interesting to say the least. And funnily enough, when he needs infrastructure to support one of his pet Mega Development projects, the “mayor’s office” gets very involved in transportation. Exhibits 1 and 2: (1) Bloomberg’s considerable involvement in getting the cross-town 7 line extended to the far West side which he has nurtured as a development paradise for a few of his close friends since he became the mayor. (2) Similar level of involvement by Blbrg and his Development Czar Doctoroff (now a CEO-level person at Bloomberg LLP): the tower of Babylon “Olympics NYC” effort, which ate up 1.5 terms of Bloomberg’s mayoralty (this item actually encompasses (1) because a lot of the transport infrastructure involvement related as well to making it nice and easy to get to the far west side, where the Olympics project was planned for.)

        Apologies for the long-winded reply, but this is one of those issues — don’t look at the Mayor or the Governor about those transportation issues like ever-hiking tolls and fares, subway failures at every level, etc. etc., because they are the reponsibility of “those public authorities over There” — where the public has been brainwashed in New York City to the great advantage of the big development players and their friends & family at the city and state government levels (the NY governor also appoints representatives to the Port Authority and the MTA).

  4. Hialmar Ekdal

    “With Hurricane Sandy approaching the New York metro area, the nation’s eyes are turning to its largest city. Photos of storms and flooding are popping up all over Twitter, and while many are real, some of them — especially the really eye-popping ones — are fake.

    This post, which will be updated over the next couple of days, is an effort to sort the real from the unreal.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/10/instasnopes-sorting-the-real-sandy-photos-from-the-fakes/264243/

  5. MRW

    No matter what, Bill McKibben is still an hysteric. He can’t even get the meteorology right about how the storm happened,

    1. Ms G

      If “keeping an eye on” the insurance industry worked, then my health insurance company would be toast by now. Instead, it’s still very much alive and busy siphoning premiums and denying coverage (vis a vis myself and tens of thousands of others in New York State, where it is part of a de facto duopoly in health insurance).

      I would imagine the situation is not much different when it comes to property insurers.

  6. aletheia33

    thanks yves for your reminder of the hit those already just getting by will take from the subway system going down. tracking all the sandy reportage as it has come in from nyc and nj, one can’t help but notice that it is the lower income people, elderly in trailers, etc. who suffer most when floods come through. they live in lower-lying places where anyone with sufficient means to do so will avoid living. they can’t afford insurance sometimes on their own homes and businesses. they can’t afford any of the protections the well-off routinely invest in. in a heartbeat, the precarious turns into the devastated. obvious, but now thrown into relief by actual events playing out.

  7. Miller Modiggler

    A couple of evil thoughts:
    Looks for NYC to get its post-Katrina treatment – the poor and the hipsters will be forced to move out. More living space for the 0.01%

    A shutdown NYC is probably good for the rest of America. No vampire squids working to suck fluids from the rest of the country. Now that my stocks and investments are temporarily frozen in time, I can ignore them for today.

    1. Fíréan

      Electronic markets didn’t close down, not in the commodities at least ; CME Group’s New York trading floor was closed, but electronic markets were functioning.

    2. different clue

      Marketeers can work from anywhere. Maybe the vampire squid is a vampire electric squid with its blood funnel jammed into any wire that carries a current that smells like money.

  8. Lambert Strether

    The New York subway is a public good. Therefore, it is not important, and will be destroyed (under current trends). QED. I think John Robb gets it right:

    Fortunately, no matter what the damage is to New York and the surrounding area, it will be rebuilt. The US still has the political will and economic capacity to rebuild it.

    When that fades away, as current trends suggest, damage from storms like Sandy to complicated, aging urban infrastructure (like we see in New York City) won’t be rebuilt.

    1. vlade

      That’s how empires collapse. Aquaducts dry out, harbours silt, railroads get rationalized etc. etc. Infrastructure goes, empire goes.

    2. Neo-Realist

      Which reminds me, I read some where that Romney wants to make FEMA a pretty much state responsibility–a defacto elimination I believe.

  9. Max424

    A Sandy anecdote from a poolroom, somewhere in Buffalo:

    I had a 9-ball last night –time, about 10 pm– that was difference between 5-3 and 4-4 in a short race to 7, so it wasn’t an insignificant shot. As I bent down to stroke the ball home, with aplomb (one hopes), the lights went out.

    Wandering blind in the dark my first conscious thought was of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps.

    No, not weepy MacArthur’s West Point Corps, but the Army Corps of Engineers. What did they rate our infrastructure, a D+? And the weakest link, to my way of thinking, the Big F dragging down an already pitiful grade, is our geriatric DumbGrid.

    Shit man, I’m 500 miles away from the hurricane’s epicenter, my town is experiencing … some heavy rains and medium winds, really, is all, and we lose power.

    And the thing is, I knew it was gonna happen. We all knew it was going to happen.

    Note: Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the fragility of complex systems and how the relate to the exponential function. No, I haven’t read Tainter in full (I probably should), but I have read Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon/Mobile.

    Rex says that Climate Change is “an engineering problem,” in other words, we can meet this extinction-level dilemma head-on, with presumably, a preemptive series of brilliantly crafted blueprints.

    Well, you and your engineering buddies better get cracking, Rex, because, from here on out, the evil half of Mother Nature is going to be doubling Her efforts to overwhelm you, and then She’s going to double Her efforts again, and again, and again.

  10. jal

    I’m looking at the other half of the glass. (1/2 full).
    There will economic improvement.
    Double time pay, insurance money, new jobs for the unemployed, The Fed. will print more money, etc..

    1. Max424

      I too see the glass as half full.

      I also see the liquid in the glass eventually doubling. Then I see it doubling again. And again. And so on.

      Soon I see my whole world subsumed by liquid, and the original half full glass is but an aquatic afterthought.

      This I don’t necessarily see as a good thing.

  11. ginnie nyc

    Yves-

    Your point about low wage workers and mass transit is well-taken. My home attendant won’t be able to get to me for several more day, if then. She lives in Newark, god help her – there’s no interstate transit at the moment. Any substitute could only afford to live in uppermost Manhattan, or one of the outer boroughs, which necessitates subway use. Which will be out of commission for at least a week.

  12. Mark

    “New York is as beautiful and diverse and glorious as an old-growth forest. It’s as grand, in its unplanned tumble, as anything ever devised by man or nature.”

    Sadly, people no longer can distinguish between monstrosity and grandeur, between the merely spectacular and beauty.

    1. skippy

      What!!!!!! No… TBTF – Bankster – Polie – Global Inherently Rich Fundian golfer divot/shoe spike cellulite moonscape posterior? I mean, seriously, what do you think they use to tee off with.

      Skippy… Stop air brushing reality out… Binzi…

  13. Pathfinder

    In all the talk of having to inspect every bit of track, I haven’t heard anybody wondering what kind of toxic swill is now filling those tunnels. I can’t imagine the chemical composition of the stuff they are going to be pumping out of the subways. Nasty.

    On the other hand, perhaps all the rebuilding and repair work will help employ some of the workers who have been sidelined lately. I’m looking for a silver lining.

    Be safe, folks.

  14. Ms G

    “One of the first damage reports was of a crane on 57th Street that became unmoored on the construction site of what will be the most costly condos in the city (I hope the developer gets a massive fine).”

    This incident actually illustrates perfectly how the .01% (wealthy developers connected to the mayor) are allowed to place the heavy burden of externalities on Others. Given the number of crane crashes we’ve had in the city over the past 10 years, there was ample reason and plenty of time for the developer to make-safe. It is a disgrace that this happened in the first place.

    But to add insult to injury, the immediate effect was that an entire block of City residents were ordered to evacuate their home. (1) The evacuation would have been avoided had the developer taken basic steps to make the crane safe. (2) You can bet your bottom dollar that any fine will be a joke and, more importantly, that just compensation for the evacuated residents will not even be on the table but written off (probably in a public statement by Mayor Bloomberg) that “these things happen and people just have to be tough.” There is a .01% chance that Bloomberg might couch his statement in more polite terms because the building — “57″ — is a luxury high rise slated to be the tallest residential building in NYC when finished and the units are expected to be sold for many millions a piece.

    1. Ms G

      … The “57″ is a luxury high rise in a luxury area. (Just clarifying, in terms of chances that slightly more attention will be paid to the “inconvenience” to evacuees.)

    2. Montanamaven

      This “57″ building is the definition of gross excess. It shouldn’t be on the same block as Carnegie hall. I am sad. used to work at 57th and 7th which always seemed much more a part of Broadway and artists than condos for the .01%. Hope he gets a huge fine.

    3. Montanamaven

      This “57″ building is the definition of gross excess. It shouldn’t be on the same block as Carnegie hall. I am sad. used to work at 57th and 7th which always seemed much more a part of Broadway and artists and musicians than condos for the .01%. Hope he gets a huge fine.
      “Put the blame on crane, boys. Put the blame on crane.”

  15. steve from virginia

    I lived in NYC for 15 years, some observations on the NYC subways:

    – The entire city is a maritime environment. There is salt everywhere and corrosion is a fact of life. There should not be any more salt damage from this event than from a snowstorm (salt from highways draining into subway tunnels).

    – MTA has a lot of employees, this is going to be an ‘all hands’ effort to pump out water, clean out trash, dry out equipment and get trains and buses running. The upshot of this storm will be a cleaner subway (for a little while).

    – The basic infrastructure is unaffected: tunnels, trackway, tracks, 3d rails, switches and signals, stations and platforms. The biggest problem will be removing sludge and debris. There will be gunk in every single relay box, signal lamp, track drain, pump shaft, etc. Every single cigarette butt in NYC is now wedged into every turnstile.

    – What MTA cannot buy it can make in its own shops.

    – The trains themselves were not flooded (trains were parked in tunnels above high water).

    – Electrical equipment would not be effected (made from copper alloys). The important job is to dry everything out and remove junk.

    – Some of the subways were not effected or are in areas where water has receded. Service in these areas should be resumed rapidly, maybe as soon as Wednesday.

    – New Yorkers will improvise. Americans elsewhere will cry because they cannot use the car. New Yorkers will walk to work then camp out in the workplaces until they can use the trains again.

    1. Matt

      I don’t think it’s quite so easy. Got a salt bridge under a tie? Your circuit isn’t dropping and you’ve got false clears. That all has to be tested.

      If anyone wants a comparison, how about the MBTA Green Line flood of 1996? The signal system had to be completely scrapped and parts of the line were out of service for two months. That was a freshwater flood and of a much smaller scale.

  16. skippy

    Would like to hear on the condition of those Jersey HFT server nodes. I would bet they received more attention than the Nuke Plant[s for fear of inundation / power loss.

    Skippy… critical infrastructure – is – a priority… eh.

    PS. Crazzy hope your steed pulls through. FYI major concern would be fuel contamination if electrics dry out OK, drain and flush before extended operation. Last time it happened to me, it was 22K in repairs, complete new diesel fuel system from tank to injectors… ouch…

    1. skippy

      The NYSE’s reputation will suffer because of the shutdown, said former SEC Chairman Levitt.

      “People look to the New York Stock Exchange as being the symbol of American capitalism, and to see the exchange go down for two days without an adequate backup plan is very, very unfortunate,” Levitt said on a Bloomberg Radio interview today. “To see the New York Stock Exchange crippled is a body blow that will really shake the image of that institution for a long time to come.”

      ‘Irresponsibly Wrong’

      The view is “disappointing,” the NYSE’s Niederauer said.

      “Obviously Arthur has been involved in the industry for a long time but is maybe a little out of date with the facts,” he said. “We had a contingency plan. It was approved by the SEC in ’09. It was communicated to everyone in ’10 and tested earlier this year, and the industry simply preferred that we not implement that plan on Monday and Tuesday.”

      http://washpost.bloomberg.com/Story?docId=1376-MCPMJR0D9L3501-2C5MV04SJD358BKONS5UNIV0RJ

      NYSE Euronext data center the 400,000 square foot facility in New Jersey…. Will Live!!!.

      Skippy… Will the USA ever live it down, 2 days without Trading, the worlds shinning beacon of Capitalism, disrupted by, obviously some commie – socialist – weather event. Kill[!!!!]… the Climate before it kills Capitalism! Reputations depend on it, that which is – most – important too the .001%, creditably! (sticks sharps in eyes)

  17. Ms G

    A phenomenon that unfortunately is not caused by Sandy but simply thriving on disaster: news outlets reporting unconfirmed rumors about everything from announcements about when subway/bus service or electrical power will be restored to NYSE being “under 3 ft of water”, to fake photos and videos.

    Courtesy of the Guardian, UK, which is actually attempting to confirm information (!) before reporting it. An eye-opening list of botched reports on key issues provided here — http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-news-blog/2012/oct/30/hurricane-sandy-storm-new-york

    1. Synopticist

      “Misinformation over storm spread quickly online, abetted by journalists no longer taught importance of verifying every source”

      My goodness, that sub-headlines’s appearing in a BRITISH newspaper?
      What a joke.

      1. different clue

        If the particular British newspaper in question makes its journalists verify all their sources/facts/etc. before submitting their stories, then it is not a joke in this case. Is the Guardian known for doing that?

      2. Ms G

        Except funnily enough, and despite its reputation otherwise, Guardian appears to be effectively parsing myth and fiction in the US media (and social media) reporting frenzy on Sandy — photos and stories.

  18. Psychoanalystus

    NEWS FLASH

    In response to today’s unprovoked attack on New York City by the Ayrab terrorist named Sandy, the President of the United States of America, speaking from a boarded up White House, has issued the following message:

    “My fellow Americans. Today, our beloved lower Manhattan financial district has been subjected to an unprovoked attack from an Ayrab terrorist that goes by the name of Sandy. I want you to know that as Comanda in Chief I have swiftly responded to this act of terror, mobilizing all the strength and might of the United States armed forces. Therefore, as of 10 AM this morning, I have deployed 5 aircraft carriers and a fleet of ten thousand drones armed with bunker-busting bombs to the lawless region where Ayrab Sandy reportedly received his terrorist training: The Gulf of Mexico. Our brave troops and drones are making the waves bounce as I speak. In closing, I want to draw a red line and send a clear message to anybody else who may be thinking of disrupting our way of financial life: No terrorist, no hurricane, no tropical storm, no Ayrab, no Muslim, no Occupy Wall Streeter, no homeless, no unemployed will be allowed to ever again interfere with my friends and campaign contributors on Wall Street. Is that clear?!”

  19. anonymouse

    Um, why is nobody asking the obvious question – why the hell is there a single point of failure for delivering power to lower Manhattan? One transformer blow up is all it takes to knock all of lower Manhattan off the grid?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, as mentioned in passing, but probably not explained adequately, Con Ed CHOSE to take some of Lower Manhattan down because a substation was clearly going to be flooded, I assume one in the Wall Street area. If you’ve ever gotten a computer wet, you probably know the damage to it is less if you can turn the power off before stuff starts to short out.

      The 14th Street blowout was on top of that, and I have no idea what sections of the blackout area were due to that (which might have been caused by lightening) versus the deliberate outage.

      1. gomer blastoma

        Speaking as a denizen of the still-blacked-out portion of Lower Manhattan, the subsystems that Con Ed took offline preemptively before the hurricane hit are back up and running; the 14th Street subsystem that blew up is still down at this writing, and I’m still in the blink. Last I heard, the 14th St. transformer explosion was due to the underground shaft getting flooded, although I’m newly back on the web and haven’t been able to surf around and confirm that.

  20. Jerry

    I see much of the 1% live in New York…..hum….have they had any compassion on the other 99%….I don’t think so….give me some time as I don’t have much compassion for them…

  21. charles 2

    “What is going to happen to these people for the week or more while the subway is put back into service? The five boroughs has income disparity as high as China.”

    Do as the Chinese then : use bicycles, with electric assistance if needs be. I switched to cycling during a mass strike of my local public transportation system. Never looked back…

  22. OMF

    New York is as beautiful and diverse and glorious as an old-growth forest. It’s as grand, in its unplanned tumble, as anything ever devised by man or nature. And now, I fear its roots are being severed.

    I don’t think this guy knows the first thing about New York.

    It will be difficult to get in and out of Manhatten for the next 6-24 months as the Subway is brought on and offline. Traffic restrictions will almost certainly be in effect for the next two years. Certain telecoms service will begin to fail over the next 48 hours, but will recover before long.

    There will be a flurry of activity in the coming weeks and particularly in the New years as hundreds of water, drainage, electrical, gas, telecom, and pneumatic system are replaced (less so repaired). Minor building and shopfront repair works will begin before Christmas and again will accelerate in the new year.

    A major buildings inspection programme will soon be required in order to assess which building are to be condemned. These buildings will be replaced with new construction works, the development process of which probably began before the storm actually hit.

    It is possible that a major insurer or bank will go under as a result of this storm. But I anticipate that New York City will survive.

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