This morning the country is wakes up to unprecedented damage along the East coast. Dubbed the “Frankenstorm” – the result of its colliding with a particularly nasty Nor’easter storm-front from the west – Hurricane Sandy proved to be every bit the monster people feared it would be as it mauled Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and beyond.
By now the storm surge has receded and people are beginning to assess, by light of day, the extent to which this super-storm has left her mark. The total price-tag for this storm could likely reach tens of billions of dollars. Over 7.5 million people were without power at some point, with ConEd estimating up to a full week before the lights go back on for thousands. The New York City subway system seems to be submerged under rivers of Garbage and the images spreading across the web are as striking as any Hollywood disaster movie: Flooded streets, buildings washed away, and an entire tanker ship tossed ashore. Godzilla would be envious.
Even as the country braces itself for the long and complicated process of rebuilding, the inevitable dance of politicizing-without-looking-like-you’re-politicizing has already begun. With only a week until voters head to the polls to choose a new Commander-in-Chief, both the Obama and Romney campaigns have had to recalibrate their entire strategy to account for this new, post-Sandy dynamic.
So, what can you expect over the next few days?
- Wild, unsubstantiated rumors: Already, the internet has birthed (and subsequently, killed off) rumors of a hospital fire in Coney Island, and the floor of the New York Stock Exchange being submerged under 4 feet of water. Check out Buzzfeed’s great break-down on how a lone schmuck on Twitter can start such massive panic.
- Delays – holy shit – Delays: It goes without saying that a storm like this is going to cause some travel delays. What remains to be seen is the extent to which these delays will become systemic problems lasting into the coming days. Some New York City subway tunnels are already underwater, which virtually guarantees the entire MTA subway system will be completely bugfucked (technical term) for the next few days. Air travel is also disrupted with nearly every major airport New England scrambling to adjust based on the ripple effect of massive and multiple flight cancelations. Even if you’re not flying to/from the East Coast, there’s a good chance your travel is going to be disrupted.
- Political Sniping: Already the knives are out among those looking to make political hay from this disaster. So far things seem to be contained to the state and local level, with mayors and governors arguing over the implementation (or not) of evacuation plans. But, with the presidential election only 7 days away, rest assured, both campaigns will be spinning wildly to ensure they’re able to maximize their political standing without looking like that’s what their doing, in the face of this disaster. Don’t expect the candidates themselves to start slinging mud, but keep an eye on each campaign’s surrogates over the next 72 hours.
- Memes Memes Memes: We’ve already seen parody twitter accounts for Sandy herself, and even that dangling crane in Manhattan, but when it comes to memes, we’re calling it right now – this guy wins:
What can you do to help?
First and foremost – If you are on the East Coast: Stay safe, and listen to the emergency professionals in your area. If they say don’t go outside, then don’t go outside. Don’t be a hero, putz.
That said, here are a few ways those directly affected by the storm, as well as everyone around the country, can help:
- The American Red Cross has traditionally been the primary go-to for disaster relief efforts. In this instance, this storm forced the Red Cross to cancel a large number of their blood drives, and their reserve supplies are running low. Visit www.redcross.org to learn how you can donate blood, volunteer your time, or simply help fund their relief efforts. For those of you inclined to take the path of least resistance, you can simply text REDCROSS to 90999 to automatically donate $10 to their general disaster relief funds.
- The New York Blood Center has put out similar warnings regarding its own reserve supply of blood. it estimates it needs 2,000 donations a day to maintain its current levels.
- If you are in Lower Manhattan, consider using The Lower East Side Recovers. Billing itself as “community powered disaster recovery” LESR allows users to identify communal needs, ways to give, and opportunities to volunteer.
- Nechama: Jewish Response to Disaster, has already begun to mobilize for the immediate post-Sandy efforts, and is accepting both financial donations, and volunteers for on-the-ground relief work. They recently tweeted that they expect their efforts to start in New Jersey.
- The Jewish Disaster Relief Corps, which focuses on long-term domestic disaster recovery, has a similarly stellar reputation for communal rebuilding efforts.
Feel free to post your Frankenstorm pictures, videos, and stories in the comments!