What Hath Superstorm Sandy Wrought?

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy looks to be a soggy, protracted, costly affair. Over 8 million people are still without electricity. Over 35 have died as a result of the storm, 18 in New York City alone. Even though the storm surge looks to have been worse than predicted, Sandy picked up its pace, so damage resulting from persistent heavy rains appears not to be a major risk.

I wonder what sightings readers have, both directly and from people in affected areas. In Manhattan, you could pretend things were normal if you were in an area that had power and didn’t look very hard (well, take even that back, on one side street, I saw a fallen tree and a second one seriously damaged). People were out on the street, store windows were lit, and busses were running. But (creepy if you are a native) the cars weren’t parked tightly and there were even empty spaces on major avenues. Many of the stores that were cheerily lit up were closed; many had gratings up. Grocery stores, chain drug stores, and the so-called “Koreans”, the small convenience stores, were the one type that seemed to be uniformly open. But the grocery stores I checked out hadn’t been restocked, so the fresh bread and veggies were pretty much gone, as was a lot of the fruit and most of the fresh meat and cheese (don’t worry, there is still tons of frozen food, we are not at risk of starving here).

Fuggeddabout frock shops, although I did see one nail salon that was operational. Specialty food stores, health food stores, tailors, shoe shops, newsstands, and most but not all chain restaurants were shuttered (no Starbucks, Burger Hut, or Subway, but Pizzeria Unos was in business). Local restaurants were mixed, although I was pleased to see the small restaurants around Lenox Hill Hospital open (I’d hate to see hospital staff not able to go to their usual haunts). Fedex Kinkos was dark. I’d assume most doctors offices are shut (I can’t imagine any of the commercial labs are up and running).

And we are in good shape up here. Power continues to be out below 34th Street (that’s an imprecise statement; I gather the boundary is more like 31st-32nd around 8th and 9th Avenue, for instance). Reader nathan in the dark zone (actually, he is in a limited equity complex in Chelsea which has its own generators) went up to 34th Street and said all the restaurants there are completely packed, as people who can walk out of the blackout area for a break and a prepared meal. He also said police were putting flares on the corners where the traffic lights were out.

This message, along with the photo, was forwarded early this afternoon by reader Scott:

XXX and I have taken refuge on the upper east side where there is power and hot coffee. When we explored outside our apartment this morning, the damage above-ground seemed pretty minimal, though. A few trees down in Battery Park and the tunnel to the FDR from the West Side Hwy is still flooded to its roof (see attached). And no power below 40th street on the west side. I talked to a ConEd guy outside my building who said they’d been pumping out the vaults under the sidewalk where the equipment is for our electricity supply. After two hours, the water level hadn’t moved, so I expect we’ll be out of power for days. The flood waters completely receded above sidewalk level, though.

As we’ve said, the city is very dependent on the subway and the PATH trains to bring workers in and out, and both are down now. Presumably, we’ll see some inching towards normalcy as bus service and the tunnels are back in service, but they can only compensate in a limited way for the subways and the PATH. One of the staff members in my building decided to crash with friends in Manhattan so he could help alleviate the load on his co-workers; I suspect there is even more of that happening with hospital staff and businesses like major hotels. But how long can operations like that go on with overloaded employees if the subways aren’t up and running soon? The MTA is pointedly refusing to give any kind of estimate when it might be able to resume even partial service. From Bloomberg Tuesday afternoon:

Damage on the MTA, the largest U.S. transit system providing 3.2 billion trips a year, was so widespread that officials today said they couldn’t say when they’ll be able to assess it….

“The first step is getting the water out,” Judy Glave, an MTA spokeswoman, said by telephone. “You can’t even start until the levels go down.”

Everything, including the electrified third rail, will have to be cleaned before power can be restored. Anything damaged will have to be replaced.

“Salt water is corrosive,” Glave said. “Every bit has to be cleaned off. It’s a massive job.”

The task will involve inspecting each of thousands of connections for the signal system that detects where trains are on its lines, Downey said. A similar system failed on Washington’s subway system in 2009, causing the deadliest crash in its history.

“It’s an enormous amount of wiring and an enormous amount of connections that go to what’s called relay rooms,” Downey said. “They’ve got to turn the system on and if it seems to be working. I think they’ve got to go to every component and check it and get rid of all the salt. What you don’t want is a short circuit that causes the system to fail.”

This picture, which is apparently of 86 Street in Brooklyn, gives an idea of how badly the system has been hit in many areas (note the validity of this photo was initially debated but later reports suggest it is real, or at least not unrepresentative of that part of the system):

There is a more cheery MTA video of the South Ferry/Whitehall Street Station that shows pretty much all of the water has drained out there.

And remember, the Wall Street Journal quoted a pre-Sandy study that said it could take as long as 29 days just to pump the water out in the case of a “full inundation”.

Con Ed has said that for users dependent on underground power (which includes Manhattanites) that they expect to have power fully restored in four days. That’s an eternity if you’ve already had no power for two days. They are estimating it could take up to ten days in area with downed trees. Some other utilities are not giving estimates yet.

How does it look in your area? What reports have you gotten? I hope you are all safe and doing as well as you can, if you are in one of the hard-hit areas.

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  1. Middle Seaman

    In the DC area, we were spared the damage that NYC is subject to. Some power outages that are repaired surprisingly fast, some structures damaged and only one fatality.

    The streets were empty and the city shut down for two days. On Monday, the atmosphere was similar to the day after 9/11. We even didn’t care about the two liars running for president and in particular Romney who believes that he has god given right to cheat and destroy.

    We the lucky ones, had time to think humbly about the destruction caused by the financial sector and our criminal political class.

  2. rjs

    rainfall totals in northeast ohio range from 4 to 7 inches and its still raining, so i imagine there are a lot of flooded basements (like mine)

    also saw a lot of trees down driving across the county yesterday…

    last i heard, most of jersey is still without power, & krugman has a power line & a tree down across his driveway so he aint going anywhere…

    radio reports overnight put snowfall totals in WVa in the foot to 3 foot range…

  3. dearieme

    The number of deaths reported seems quite modest: compare “307 people died in the UK in the North Sea Flood of 1953”.

    The problem seems comparable to London’s: “If the storm surge coincides with a spring tide, dangerously high water levels can occur in the Thames Estuary.”

    I don’t suppose that the solution would be identical to London’s, but spending some money on protecting your tunnels might be sensible.

    When I asked on a few American blogs, a few weeks ago, whether hurricanes ever hit NYC, nobody seemed at all interested. If the population doesn’t care I don’t suppose the politicians will.

    H/T quotations from WKPD

  4. JohnL

    My daughter in Astoria is fine, but unsure how she will get to work on the east side. Of the neighbors I’ve checked on in my old Monmouth County NJ hood, 3 of 4 had the house hit by trees, the 4th a near miss. Other friends nearer the shore lost the house and both cars. Others are waiting to find out if they still have a house on LBI.

  5. Max424

    We have 2,000 intrepid reporters from all major majors doing stand up in the rain.

    “It’s wet out here, Gene, and it’s windy. I can also report…whoooshh…wind gust!…whoa, that was a big one Gene! I can also report that it was wet and windy earlier, and it’s getter wetter and windier by the minute. But I am a fearless newsman Gene. I will remain out in my company issued wind and rain slicker until until the wind and the rain are no longer with us.”

    “What’s that? I can barely hear you Gene, it’s so windy, so rainy. The subways? Are the subways filling? Is that the question? Is there flooding below decks? We don’t know Gene. Nobody here on the surface is asking, nobody above ground is telling.”

    “What? The subways? Again with the subways? Undoubtedly those are unconfirmed reports, Gene. Internet hacks, quacks, scammers. It’s amateur bullsheee…Wow! Did you catch that cameraman? I think a man eater just swam by… Forget the photos Gene. Fake, no fake, who cares? Can’t you see? This is official. This is live, this is double trouble personified!

    “The authorities and the agencies are in agreement, conditions are adversarial, it’s wet, it’s windy, it will only get wetter and windier over the next danger filled time frame, and that is all we need to know.”

    I couldn’t agree more as an American citizen. Who gives a shit about any potential subsurface nastiness? Any and all nasty, actually. I like my news rosy, because what I really need to know is, day to day, are the lights on at my Wal-Mart? As I need pick up a few items.

    What do I need? I’m not sure. I’ll figure it out once I get there.

  6. Ep3

    Yves, I feel compelled to throw in some neoliberal propaganda. But I won’t. I just want ppl to think about all those “free market” statements that are made and then apply them to this situation.

    1. diptherio

      Yeah, nothing like a good ol’ natural disaster to really drive home the beauty of the free market mentality. Let’s hope that for their own sakes they’re not a bunch of nutty collectivists, helping each other out and whatnot. As we all know, the only rational thing to do, in this or any other situation, is to callously use others for one’s own benefit, it’s what makes the free market go round.

      Unfortunately, prolonged physical hardship has a tendency to soften the resolve of even the most hardened Randian, as the natural tendency is to pull together in times of trouble. But the Wall Streeters know, thank Mammon, that that way lies destruction! Let us only hope that they can keep the great truths of neo-classical economic doctrine forefront in their minds during this crisis.

  7. Eric Patton

    Don’t worry. I’m sure Bill McKibben will start pressuring the Obama administration to acknowledge the reality of global warming very soon.

    1. Carla

      “I’m sure Bill McKibben will start pressuring the Obama administration to acknowledge the reality of global warming very soon.”

      No disrespect intended toward McKibben, but Mario Cuomo and Michael Bloomberg are talkin’ climate change and they probably have more pull.

    2. different clue

      The Obamastration acknowledged the reality of global warming years ago. They just gave up on trying to address it.

  8. LAS

    Of course, this method of info collection is biased toward those of us LEAST affected. Our neighbors throughout the states and regions with harder realities and tasks of clean-up are unavailable to respond.

    My apartment bldg, located in upper Manhattan at about the East River, is up on a bluff, above the plane of the river, whereas our neighbors downtown are at river level. During the storm, our building creaked and windows bulged in a way they had not done before. Signs, screens, grates and scaffolding on the block were disattached by the winds, but it all held up very well for the most part. The city had thoughtfully chained down garbage cans and park benches.

    Up here trees have fallen across the road on just about every smaller cross street and along the river esplanade but the avenues were clear on Tuesday. Maybe one out of every 20 trees was uprooted, split or seriously damaged. It looks like the tram crossing over to Roosevelt Island may need some fixing; the cable hardware does not appear to be sitting quite right to me (disclosure: not an engineer).

    Honestly, this is when I truly appreciate the virtues of Mayor Bloomberg. He is really intelligent, involved, protective of the population at large and proactive and he sounds so tired when he updates us. He tries to repeat things in Spanish, although he is not much of a speaker at all. (We have big Asian communities in the city though, that could also use a translator.) Forcing the transit system down and for people to remain hunkered down, urging evacuation, etc. — there’s not a doubt that saved hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives.

    Today, I’m going to venture further downtown to check out our wee office and the computer server which has gone down/unresponsive there (and disengaged us from clients). Whether I have the saavy to restart it is another question. (Part of me wants to remain disengaged, but that’s the immature part.)

    In Princeton, NJ is a little cedar townhouse in a wooded area that I cannot see for some days. The trees that fell in Princeton after Irene were a big issue and Sandy, being more powerful, has probably done no less of that. This location has drainage issues, too, that we worked on over the summer to make better but have yet to see tested. The property is on relatively high, sloping ground but its problem is the tons of run-off from a reserve located just above that runs down the slope. Sometimes water from the reserve goes roaring through like a river.

    Whatever the case, I know I’m blessed compared to so many others.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      LAS: “This location has drainage issues”

      Well, the Sandy “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” ought to take care of that little problem — along with that little do-over of the “Middle Passage” underSeaLand to the New WTC–dontcha think?

  9. Brooklin Bridge

    In a once small once rural town just on the edge of eastern Massachusetts, we did not get hit at all as heavily as in New York city, but the rain and wind did considerable damage nevertheless. I saw huge pine trees come down from gusts of wind that didn’t seem that strong at all down on the ground. They pulled up these gigantic 8-12 foot root systems packed with earth and I swear they preferred falling when there were power lines nearby as if just possibly the lines would catch them. They didn’t, although a few times the wires did seem to have an effect as the tree just leaned across the road resting on another tree and pulling the live wires tight as piano strings.

    Small local power companies are the greatest. If it had been one of the behemoths, we would still be without power and I know because I have lived in communities unfortunate enough to be ripped off served by them.

  10. Robert Thau

    The Whitehall/South Ferry video doesn’t look so cheery to me. While the tracks for the R seem to be dry, the IRT side of the station is flooded up to the mezzanine. At about 1:50 into the video, you can see a stairway down to the 1 train, completely flooded — to reach that platform right now, you’d need Scuba gear.

    1. Christophe

      That is very, very unlikely. The ubiquitous smell of urine comes from maintaining far too few public toilets in such a densely packed city. Yesterday, the few that we do have were closed (in Central Park’s case, barricaded) while every tourist in town and many locals were out surveying the storm damage. Where did everyone go to pee? Not, as usual, into the park. I imagine any secluded stairwells and entrances near Central Park will be getting a bit ripe about now.

      When Nature called me away from the park’s crowded edge towards any cafe that might be open on Madison, I was surprised to find Brooks Brothers lit up. Though only manned by a skeleton crew, they were eager to lighten the wallets of any shopping-deprived wealthy tourists whose trips had been so inconsiderately marred by Sandy’s uninvited arrival. I was more eager to get to the sixth floor where the toilets are located… whew!

  11. StuckInBrooklyn

    The Manhattan store where my roomie works has asked staff to come in. Most of them live outside Manhattan, and are part-time minimum wagers. The store has asked them to make best efforts to get in, but has not offered to pay taxi fare or other reimbursement. The take-home from a half- or 3/4- shift will barely cover the commute cost. The alternative is bus, which at the moment looks like a 2-3 hour commute, each way. Looks exactly like Yves’ point in yesterday’s post about where the economic hardship falls after events like Sandy.

    1. Denise B

      Yes, I recall during the transit strike in 1980 how my employer ordered me to come to work while providing no assistance. I lived on W. 174th St and worked on E. 42nd. All they had to say was, get here or else. Right.

    2. Ms G

      Most of the guys and gals that work at the S’bux near me were at work today — they all had to take cabs. The “bus service” is apparently barely skeletal, with people waiting 1-2 hours to get on one of the rare buses that arrive full. White shoe law firm lawyers in the neighborhood were unable to get into the city because all bridges were parking lots — so cab, private car, bus did not overcome the public transit diaster.

      It will be interesting to watch Mr. Bloomberg’s pronouncements or actions vis a vis the NYC subway system, which he has ignored (while touting himself as the Green Mayor) whilst making life easier for people who travel by private helicopter or plane (like himself) and screeching about congestion pricing which, despite superficial appeal as a pollution-control measure, in fact would result in regressive taxes (again) on increasingly stretched middle class people who still have jobs and live in areas poorly served by public transportation.

      This should be the moment when the .01% all wake up and realize that Public Transport (especially the underground) is a massive project worth directing kazillion resources to — not only is it the lifeblood of urban centers but what a jobs program they could get out of it.

  12. Deloss

    The Upper West Side of Manhattan fared, I think, pretty well. No power loss, and my windows did not blow in, though they did two years ago. I live across the street from Central Park, and there is less damage apparent than last time. Fairway sent me an email saying they were open and fully stocked for business, and they are within bicycle distance.

    I’m not rejoicing. Our beautiful city has been savaged, destroyed as completely as if we had been attacked by vandals–which we have. We had this ghastly storm because we have been aware of global warming for decades and the Right has so muddied the waters on the issue, and then so mocked everybody who wanted to discuss it that mentioning it is impossible. Doing anything about it has been unthinkable–although that situation may change.

    So my emotion is not relief, but rage. Remember, please, that the Right LIKES destruction for its own sake. Mitt Romney made a joke of climate change at the Republican convention, and I have taken to adding a signature line to my outgoing email. He is at the link, jeering at Obama.

    “Romney wants you dead.”


    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Deloss, It’s profitable to some:

      “THE SHOCK DOCTRINE: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” by Naomi Klein. Did you imagine that the City of New York was to be spared?

  13. Susan

    I can’t help recalling the quote from the NYC hydraulics engineers (Schuber and Briffa) in Alan Weisman’s 2007 book, The World Without Us. He said, “Every day they must keep 13 million gallons of water from overpowering NY’s subway tunnels. And that’s just water that’s already underground.”

    “When it rains, the amount is…” Briffa shows his palms surrendering. “It’s incalculable.”

    Sure hope there’s enough power to handle all this clean up there. And food trucks – hope food deliveries are able to be made.

    1. Max424

      re: Alan Weisman’s, The World Without Us

      I’ve been thinking about rereading that book, now it’s a done deal.

      Thanks for the mention.

  14. gozounlimited

    People without power are missing the purpose of their misery …. GDP. Assessing Hurricane Sandy’s Impact on GDP Growth … see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7r4VS4yZ_h0

    MSNBCs Kudlow estimated a GDP increase of 2% in 2013 due to repair, rebuilding efforts. Mr. weather insider assured the rest of us that the East Coast, especially New Yorkers are resilient…not to worry about the hideous geoengineered death and destruction.

    But unfortunately Experts believe that a loss of product buying and services could subtract 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points from the gross domestic product for Q4 2012. http://www.inquisitr.com/380483/hurricane-sandy-to-cost-20-billion-will-put-a-dent-in-gdp/

    How does it feel to be treated like just another market commodity? Not fun ….I bet.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      g, THEY are perfecting the Rockefeller/Freidman/Kissinger SHOCK DOCTRINE in the Homeland. Will Michael Bloomberg profit from this disaster yielding more to spend on Bermuda and the Ile de France? Is Bloomberg *American* or *Global* in his loyalties? Does he have a Quadruple Passport while Acting as *Mayor* of the City of New York?

      Recall: “The Iron Heel” by Jack London: THEY will do anything for their sole profit.

  15. Valissa

    At our home in inner suburb of Boston we still do not have electricity, and we are the only ones in our neighborhood without power. On Monday I posted that a very large branch had fallen off our huge silver maple tree and nicked the edge of our roof (knocking down roof trim and gutters) and fallen between our 2 cars in the driveway messing up every wire/cable that comes into our house. NSTAR came very quickly that day to assess, but they had to disconnect our power in order to remove the dangerous hanging and tangled electrical wires. When they did that they said another crew would be back to finish up. But it turns out that it was an out-of-town crew that did the job and they didn’t know what they were talking about.

    Fortunately a town electrical inspector knocked on our door yesterday morning and told me all the steps I needed to take to deal with everything. btw, the electrical inspectors in our town are known to be tough and every electrician who has ever worked on our house has been extra careful because of that (they bitch about how tough the inspectors are – we love that!). This wonderful inspector even called a local electrical co. and they came within 30 minutes and then spent 2-3 hours doing repairs related to the point-of-attachment (where electricity comes into the house), then called the inspector back so he could OK the work. He gave his approval and called NSTAR to put us in the queue for reconnection (they need to run a new wire from the pole to our point-of-attachment).

    One of the tricky issues was that there were wires/cables from 3 different companies (cable TV, phone) entangled in the branch and normally one would have to call each company to deal with that. However the inspector told me the electrician could cut all the wires and wrap them safely on the pole so I could have the tree guys come and remove the tree, which is blocking my husband’s car. However the electrician was a bit hesitant to do this, so I told him the inspector had OK’d it and I offered to cut the wires for him so he wouldn’t be responsible for breaking the rules. But he took care of it and told me to tell Verizon and RCN that a town crew did it as a safety precaution.

    Through the kindness of a neighbor we have an extension cord from their house to ours, so we can run a few things (refrigerator, laptops, couple of lights, charge cell phones) in the mean time. Our neighbor is also letting us access her wi-fi. Getting to know our neighbors better has been a positive side effect! We have the only storm-damaged gawk-worthy property in the neighborhood so have talked to lots of people walking by. Am hoping that over the next 2 days I will get the tree branch removed, get electricity restored (then cable & phone), get a contractor here to assess damage and start on insurance claim process. My family in Monmouth County, NJ, have been dealing with power outages (some have power now, some still waiting) but fortunately no damages, and my husband’s family up in NH had some temporary power outages on Monday.

    1. craazyman

      well, that was a resonably complete debrief but rather overwhelmingly anthropocentric.

      What happened to the squirrels? for one. And the chipmunks, did they get hammered there in the shrubs when the branches came down. Or did they have some sanctuary that only the chipmunks know.

      My car was towed today and the garage says it is totalled. One a financial level, this is not worthy of a second thought. It was an old beater, a 96 Saturn, market value less than $1200 and also insured. So full recovery, minus $200 deductible. A wash.

      On a far more profound level, it is a brutal assault. This plain, pedestrian, unremarkable little car has taken me places, alone, in times of emotional crisis and artistic struggle, places where I saw the living God immanent in front of me, radiant in the shapes and flow of trees, sunlight on leaves, slopes of hills and meadows, the movement of invisble lines of order and containment across the near and far ground, the quiet of clouds and sky, where I transcended briefly into an eternity and healed and became whole. What is that worth? The things we do for money are worthless in the face of that eternity. I cannot remember one thing I have ever done for money that is worth remembering. But the things we do for love are eternal, every one, every one. That car was always there like a patient friend, parked on some back road when I walked across the field my mind full of light and redemption. It wasn’t perfect. It got sick. It even blew up on me once, in a parking garage, with black smoke billowing from the dashboard. But I tended to it and it healed. And when it came time to go to the backroads and the woods and the trees, and find the Living God, it never let me down. Never one time. But I let it down in the flood. I saw the water over the middle of the tires and went home and it bothered me, so at 10 pm in 70 mile per hour wind I went back out and walked 40 yards into the black water past the crowd hovering timidly at the waters edge amazed at what the river was doing, 40 yards into the black water up to my waist almost and opened the door with the water up to the seat and started it and it worked and I backed it out somehow finding the brake and accelerator with my feet underwater. I heard wild cheering and both doors were open like wings and the water rushed out both sides and when I stopped finally some dude comes over smiling like an athelete saying “man I just wanta shake your hand, I just wanta shake your hand” hahah. WTF am I but a blockhead? I guess nobody thought somebody would wade in that black water up to their waist, but it was an act of love. And now it’s gone. It woudn’t start today and they towed it and said it was dead. And you only know how much you love something when it’s gone — at least thats been my experience. There will be a time, not a day or an hour, after the big transcendence, the big ascension, and there will be a woodland and a field and I’ll be walking back to the road with my old camera and my mind alive like light itself and there it will be, more real than a dream, more real than life, silently parked there by the side of the road, perfect in its imperfections, ready to take me someplace else in heaven, again. I know it for sure. What is life worth without that? This is not rational, I admit. I could not care less. Nothing about love is rational. It is a wild irrationality, but without it life is death.

      And when they make models on rationality they make models of death, and when they make prices on rationality they are the cost of death and the numbers in their equations only count the magnitudes of the death the make. ecce homo economicus. LOL. RIP.

      1. donna brooks

        You are such a wonderful writer. In the years I used to be in publishing, I would have loved to see this cross my desk.

  16. Hugh

    I don’t know how feasible it is but in other parts of the country with levee systems, there are floodgates that can be put in place which complete the levee and prevent flooding behind it. New York’s tunnel, subway, and electrical/communication substructure may simply have too many inlets to be sealed off, but for the tunnels in particular I think this could be an option.

    1. Max424

      Could try something similar to this.


      It might not be feasible, beating back the inevitable rising tides, Manhattan is a low-lying island surrounded by ocean, after all. Probably just have to abandon the place in the future.

      Not that it matters, the neo-liberals, the deficit hawks, the austerians, the Republicans, the Democrats, Obama, Romney, Wall Street, the Media, the Military, every powerful element in Washington, et al, would never allow the United States to make any attempts to stave off the calamities that are coming our way.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Ohh….I also wonder what happens to the homeless people. I’ve seen some out again, but wonder how many got to shelters. So many hate the shelters, and with good reason. It’s certain the casualties among them would be high and also slow to be reported.

  17. Klassy!

    Well, that didn’t take long. Now they’re reporting on looting.
    I’m sure they will be all over the story of looting by the politically connected when federal funds are released.
    Our free press is a wonderful thing.

  18. gozounlimited

    When President Obama says the storm isn’t over, he isn’t kidding. A low pressure is forming off N/W Coast while the jet stream continues to rotate Sandy blocked by a chem dump under Greenland… see here: http://www.eldoradocountyweather.com/satellite/ssec/conus-us-composite/conus-color-composite.php

    Notice NOAA has the upper right hand corner blocked so you can’t see geoengineering activity under Greenland.

    When the Western low hits Sandy …. well …. get ready!

  19. Susan the other

    The Army Corps of Engineers has been dispatched with all its people and equipment to NJ and NYC. I’m never going to make another snarky remark about them. Glad to see everyone is headed your way.

    1. Max424

      The USACE takes a lot of heat, perhaps rightfully so.

      But in my opinion, if you consistently allocate two bits to fix billion dollar problems, the intelligence and dedication levels of your engineers becomes irrelevant.

      Note: Duct tape is arguably the greatest product ever devised, but it can only do so much.

  20. ScottS

    Hope everyone from NC is doing okay. Obviously nothing to report on the west coast, but it reminds me of about a year ago when we had a freak wind storm that knocked out power to some areas for a few days. Even with gas utilities, the water heater needs electricity (srsly?) to operate, so I boiled water on the (thankfully electric-free) gas stove to do dishes underneath a tent light and played acoustic guitar (badly) and actually talked with the neighbors (!). To shower with hot water, I had to go to the gym. Since my office still had power, things felt largely normal. After power was restored, I appreciated it a bit more, and also felt better that I wasn’t too reliant on it.

    The unfun part was the traffic lights that went dark and the many old trees that were knocked down. The Huntington Library sustained some damaged flora and some of the sidewalks in Pasadena were torn up for months afterwards from the uprooted trees.

    My thoughts go out to those affected. Use this crisis/opportunity to connect with your neighbors and form the only safety net that cannot be taken away by bipartisan consent.

  21. LeonovaBalletRusse

    The elephant in the room: The Military-Industrial Complex/NASA/et al. have brought “Global Warming” to us in a Whirlwind and We the People of the Globe must Reap This Whirlwind. Will Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges officially recognize that it is the *DOGS OF WAR*–who serve the Global Private Wealth Interests of the .01%–who are the Maniacal Monster Makers of the “Shock Doctrine of the Earth” and that they are the CURSE on We the People that Eisenhower and JFK warned us about?
    For the record, see “HOLES IN HEAVEN” at:

  22. Whenthelightsgodowninthecity

    When the lights go out…

    This seems a great place to mention one of the more prescient men of the last century.

    Dr. Joseph Tainter,

    “Tainter has written or edited many articles and monographs. His arguably best-known work, The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988), examines the collapse of Maya and Chacoan civilizations,[2] and of the Western Roman Empire, in terms of network theory, energy economics and complexity theory. Tainter argues that sustainability or collapse of societies follow from the success or failure of problem-solving institutions[3] and that societies collapse when their investments in social complexity and their “energy subsidies” reach a point of diminishing marginal returns. He recognizes collapse when a society rapidly sheds a significant portion of its complexity.”


    Any word on the thousands of hot fuel rods stored in pools that were overtopped by the Hudson upwind of the city at Indian Point?

    1. Max424

      re: possible meltdown at any one of a dozen nuclear plants (and subsequent abandonment of either portions, or the entirety, of the eastern seaboard)

      Good question. An important question, too I think, but the last of the American journalists, George over at Washington’s Blog, hasn’t reported yet, so we can’t possibly know. But he will (he’s busy in the Gulf right now). Tomorrow or the next day, is my prediction.


      Note: I put on my hair shirt the other night, and forced myself to endure six or seven hours of TV Storm Coverage. I watched multiple channels, saw and listened to hundreds of anchors, reporters, and “experts,” but not one single T-head uttered the words nuclear facility. In fact, no bold journalist had the temerity to even subtly intimate that they out there, and in the direct path of a oncoming monster.

      About half way through my ordeal, I decided to count the reporters out in the rain telling me it was raining. Before I fell asleep, I counted 32.

      And yes, it was like counting sheep.

  23. Matt

    By far the biggest problem for the subway is going to be the tunnels under the east river. I’d be happy to be wrong, but I don’t see how the signal system there isn’t totally wrecked.

    When the Green Line in Boston flooded in 1996, it was out for two months and the signals had be to be completely scrapped. And that was a feeshwater flood. That kind of outage between Manhattan and Brooklyn is a major headache.

    1. John Lenihan

      optmader says
      QUOTE This is either a state of denial or a state of ignorance. ALL the controls/control wiring is toast. I’ll conservatively say ALL of the power wiring short of bare solid conductor and perhaps some contemporary vinyl/neoporen insulated power wiring that can be verified to not have water intrusion… is toast.

      I suspect
      1.) this being such an antique subway system that there is ALOT of fabric insulated wiring…all toast.
      2.) it wil be revealed that there is not an updated set of drawings..

      Now is the time to replace all that stuff with fiber-optic wiring, since it will have to be replaced anyway. It won’t work without juice, but it sure is easier to fix and maintain, and well designed systems are mostly waterproof.

      1. Matt D

        Modern train control systems use a fiber backbone to communicate between signal locations, but the guts of the system is still electric track circuits that detect train presence and transmit speed instructions to the train. Old systems were all relay-based; modern systems are processor-based. Either way, if the thing gets swamped, you’re in trouble. The Green Line system that got flooded in the 90s was ancient (as I’d guess the NYC subway is) but computers don’t do so well in water either. Unfortunately, I don’t think you could make it any more water proof than you could make the wiring in your house.

  24. optimader

    ““Salt water is corrosive,” Glave said. “Every bit has to be cleaned off. It’s a massive job.”

    This is either a state of denial or a state of ignorance. ALL the controls/control wiring is toast. I’ll conservatively say ALL of the power wiring short of bare solid conductor and perhaps some contemporary vinyl/neoporen insulated power wiring that can be verified to not have water intrusion… is toast.

    I suspect
    1.) this being such an antique subway system that there is ALOT of fabric insulated wiring…all toast.
    2.) it wil be revealed that there is not an updated set of drawings..

    huge problems..

    1. Matt

      Yep. Long story short, you’re not gonna just open up those cabinets, hose everything off, and flip the switch…

  25. APC

    Wonder how you’d fare in the wake of Sandy if you were living in Cuba, Haiti or the Dominican Republic… Americans are such drama queens.

    1. juneau

      I guess so. I still feel bad for the people I know who have to deal with lost homes, lost jobs, lost cars, cold, dark, isolation and fear.

      We are lucky to be in the US.

      1. Tyrone

        For sure, the loss of lives is tragic and the situation devastating for many families.

        But I tend to agree, at least in so far as this will get a month of coverage and be remembered around the world for at least a while; whereas, for example, a storm called Nargis hit Burma / Mynamar (where I’m an expat) killing over 100,000 people (and probably over 200,000). This in 2008 with very little global coverage. Reparations are still ongoing.

        As a sideline to the drama queen part of the message; at least as far as electricity goes, we have power outages here as long as six days at a time, all the time :)

  26. Abe, NYC

    Here in Forest Hills it seems pretty normal. A fallen branch or a tree and there, most businesses are open (local 7/11 never closed), streets are full. This is the third extreme weather event in as many years, after the tornado in 2010 and Irene in 2011, and this time the damage is less than either: most of the weaker trees have already fallen. No issues with power or water.

    I drove on Sunrise Highway this evening, and the picture was different: long stretches without power. LIRR wasn’t running of course.

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