I’m writing this on Sunday, roughly six days after the Frankenstorm that was Sandy bore down on the Atlantic coast. Last count I saw was 110 deaths. The money hasn’t been totaled yet, but it will be in the tens of billions if you factor in all the folks who couldn’t get to work this week because subway service was effectively knocked out. And some lines will still be down when many NYers attempt to go to work on Monday. The only thing preventing massive car gridlock will be the fact that people can’t get gasoline. Right?
I think the subways will still be a mess on Monday, and if you can take a bike to work, do so. Reach out to people who are still without electricity and water–there are plenty of them in places like Coney Island and Staten Island. And consider giving some clothes (a package of tube socks, some sweats, etc) to any group that’s taking such items for those displaced by the storm. They could also use reading material as they wait for good news in one of the many shelters the displaced are waiting in.
That said, if we had a functional government, I’d think that Congressional hearings would be called for. As I’ve reported on earlier posts, New York had done studies on worst-case storms. Those studies had called for billions in infrastructure upgrades to make sure the city didn’t get beaten up the way it was last week. There was a certain lassitude to all these discussions prior to last week, and most citizens (especially the ones in shelters right now) are really angry when they find out that there were predictions of this event sitting in project folders in Albany. I’m sure there are similar folders in Trenton. Why weren’t the recommendations acted on? Why weren’t they common knowledge to people who live in this part of the country?
Alas, we probably won’t have Congressional hearings on why we didn’t prepare for Sandy. There’s no mileage for Democrats in this–they’ve controlled state houses in much of the Northeast, and it’s their sin of omission. And don’t expect a Republican Congress to pick this up either–the one inescapable conclusion Sandy leads us to is that we’re going to need to spend a bunch of money if we want to prevent these sorts of events, and that doesn’t line up with the imperatives of cutting taxes and spending. There’s also that whole global warming meme, and the GOP is not ever going to deal with that. When people like Todd Akin have seats on the House Science Committee, it’s pretty clear there will be no incentive to have a serious discussion about disasters that doesn’t involve God’s Wrath.
I’m warm and dry and my lights stayed on. It’s a shame that this is the best one can hope for after Sandy.