Good riddance, Sandy. Hello sea barriers?
Individuals and government have done much that is praiseworthy in the recovery effort following superstorm Sandy. But what should be done to prevent the next disaster?
People climbed to the upper floors of Manhattan high-rises to check on elderly shut-ins. Down on the streets food shops gave away fresh produce that they could no longer refrigerate. In the suburbs of Long Island and New Jersey homeowners strung power cords from their home generators onto their lawns so that neighbors could plug in and power up.Skip to next paragraph
These individual acts of kindness were far more than random; they were deliberate and selfless – but no less than Americans expect of each other as they rise to the challenge of a crisis.
These last few days have been a time when neighbors who barely knew each other have pooled their food and sat down to meals together. Those with chain saws helped those without clear trees from lawns and driveways. At least one child on Halloween asked for donations to the Red Cross rather than candy.
“I have power and hot water. If anyone needs a shower or to charge some gadgets or just wants to bask in the beauty of artificial light, hit me up,” one resident of the hard-hit New York borough of Staten Island wrote on Facebook.
Yes, there were testy motorists forced to wait in long lines at gas stations. And some people in dire need, despite all the good efforts generally, are still in need. “There’s a lot of anger out there,” acknowledged Newark (N.J.) Mayor Cory Booker, who opened his own home to those seeking a place to stay. But overall, he said, “I’m seeing extraordinary acts of kindness.”
Superstorm Sandy sent a historic 14-foot wave of water into New York Harbor and onto city streets, filling subway and utility tunnels with water and knocking out power to the lower part of Manhattan. Across the US East Coast, it left 8.5 million homes and businesses without electricity, a number that had dropped to 3.8 million by midday Friday. Sandy’s death toll in the United States alone rose to at least 92.
Though far from perfect, the efforts of government from the federal level down to the states and municipalities show that the lessons taught by earlier storms, from hurricane Katrina to last year’s hurricane Irene, have been learned, both in preparing the public beforehand and in helping them afterward.