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Random Rumblings on Hurricane Sandy's Aftermath


The last couple of days here in the New York City area has been heartbreaking to say the least. It has been crushing in many ways, even if you turn off the television coverage. As New Yorkers try to return to normalcy, while trying to get those who are in still in need of recovery the help they need, it is hard not to be overwhelmed at the destruction, devastation, and in some ways, the chaos in this city. After my experience (Another Extreme Weekend: DP Notes From Living Through Sandy), in this post, I simply wanted to take a step back from it all and punch the keys on some of my experiences over the past few days, as well as the random thoughts as well. I apologize ahead of time for any disorganization,  rambling, or random comments...however, it might be fitting for the time we are currently in.
 
New York City Marathon

I have no idea why this issue came to the point of needing public backlash to cancel this year's race. As someone that has been in the event industry and has had a minor dealing with the NYC marathon in past years, the thought that our Mayor would try to push this event through was insane. No, check that. It was asinine. Or to be quite childish, just plain dumb (Yes, this does qualify Mayor Bloomberg for this year's 2012 DP Idiot of the Year). 

The essentials needed to pull of such an event are vital for the recovery of many people, especially hard hit neighborhoods like Breezy Point and Far Rockaway in Queens, and New Dorp and Tottenville in Staten Island. 

The stories of city officials setting up porta-johns in areas for the race and denying local residents the chance to use them was disgusting. And the pictures of large generators - large enough to run apartment buildings - being used to run concession stands is even worse. And let's not even talk about the big pre-race feast that the Mayor urged would continue as normal. 

Normal? What about these past few days were normal? 

He planned on having such an event when folks are without power, without food, without a place to use the restroom (some reports had SI residents using the woods. The woods!), and without any help of any kind. Nothing says recovery like residents in SI waiting on help watching marathon runners poor water over themselves and countless paper cups of the resource on the floor to run a race. 

And we won't even delve into his decision to call the race so unbelievably late, that it trapped all of the runners in the area compounding the relief effort in terms of hotels and places to stay.

State Leadership

How can you not be impressed with the leadership of both New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo? While I am not a New Jersey resident, I've always admired Christie for his no nonsense, down-to-earth approach. He has always come across as a guy that is for the people, which is something often heard in campaign slogans, and never truly carried out in office. 

As for Cuomo, I voted for the guy, simply because he pretty much ran unopposed. Since being in office I haven't been a big fan at all. That is until now, and to be honest he has really earned my respect in how he has not only taken leadership in the recovery efforts, but his proactive approach. Any politician that is willing to literally come to the disaster site and unload trucks of water for victims for hours has by utmost respect. Also, breaking the no oil barge rule, currently in place for New York City waterways to get oil and gas to this location, taking control of the MTA situation, and continuing to hound power companies to restore energy have been other ways he has helped. 

True Leadership

Once again, thoroughly impressed. 

Lack of Local Leadership

On the other hand, Mayor Bloomberg's role has been terrible. In his third term, a term he got when he changed the law regulating a term limit to two in his second term in office, Mayor Bloomberg has been awful. He's been worried about imposing soda taxes and has completely screwed up the education system he fought to gain control off. Now, his lack of leadership during this crisis has all but ensured that he will not be reelected next year. 

He's been insensitive since this hurricane has struck with the constant talk of "looking to maintain city revenue", attempting to push through the New York City marathon, and only getting to hurting locations as early as today. A visit he wish he never made as he was met with lots of words and anger towards him.

 And yes, let's not forget his classic line of telling those without heat, power, or food to "remain patient. it could be worse."

Good one, Mayor. 

Also, this might be nitpicking, but it bugged me.

I once took a Power of Communications class in my senior year of undergrad where my professor touched on the topic of the power of appearance. I remember her once explaining how appearance and image portrays mood and comprehension, which is one of the reason you never see elected officials dressing formally during natural disasters or times of crisis. The informal wear presents that they are with you, and willing to visit the site if need be.

I still remember her saying, "Those who are in crisis see their leader in fleeces and work boots, and it sends a message of their not just in their office." I'll never forget her saying that, and I carry it with me for every press conference and speech in entertainment and politics. 

Thanks for the hand Mayor Bloomberg

Guess who wore a custom suit for every press conference and even to the actual sites of the hardest hit areas? Yup, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

Transportation

Nothing like a shut down Subway system in New York City. It makes everything so tough. And you also realize the importance of Governor Cuomo's urgency and reasoning to get it up and running. Jobs. Transportation. Ability to transport more resources. All part of getting the city back up and running, and most of all, back to normal. 

For the first few days, because of flooding in the tunnels under the East River, and other areas, the subway system was running at half-capacity. Part of that meant there were no trains running from Brooklyn into Manhattan, and no trains running below 34th street in Manhattan at all. On Thursday and Friday in which this was imposed, shuttle buses from the new Barclays Center and two other locations shuttled people over the bridges and into Manhattan for work and back. 

As you can imagine, the commutes took 3-4 hours on the work days. A commute that usually takes less than an hour to complete each way. 

The wait in front of the Barclays Center for Manhattan Bound shuttle buses

Luckily for me, I had to go into work on a Saturday to help NYU students and local community members in their recovery. The commute wasn't nearly as bad at 6:30am on a Saturday morning, but it was annoying, and it was interesting. Most of all, it was inconvenient. 

Never been so happy to see the 6 train

Amazingly, on my commute back home, the subway lines between Manhattan and Brooklyn were back up and running. And tomorrow, more lines will be back in service.

Rebuilding slowly...but it's getting there. 

Looters

They should be tried to the fullest extent of the law and more. Heck, those caught looting in a time like this should be subject to public flogging. 

On that note, gotta love the story from the newscast of a home owner that took out a looter with a bow and arrow. "No power and pitch black also mean they don't know what's waiting for them in these piles of rubble either" the sudden master of archery stated. So true. 

Shortage of Gas

Highlighted are flooded or no power areas. Midwood is my current neighborhood

With many of the local neighborhoods still either dealing with loss of power or much more, many have flocked to the neighborhood in which I live for groceries and gas. And this is taking place all over the city in areas that are alright as folks are in dire need of gas, for transportation and/or for generators. 

That's not traffic, that's a sitting line four blocks away from gas station
And the line continues for many more blocks

What we have is a current and massive shortage of gasoline in which we now see New Yorkers waiting in long lines for gas, even going as far as to park and camp out, waiting on the next delivery. 

Hurting People

And finally, the obvious, hurting people. Going in to work on Saturday, I basically helped out as all of the University's athletic facilities were used as shelter for students, alums, commuters, and local residents. 

We had many who were looking for shelter, or surprisingly, just a place to shower, since many hadn't since Tuesday. As New Jersey deal with their issues, there were many students who are stuck on the island of Manhattan with no where to go. 

And that's not even counting the destruction I witnessed as I drove over to areas such as Old Mill Basin and Bergen Beach recently. 

It's been bad, and the constant thought that rings through my head is that yes, life is short, life can change at a whims notice, and that we need to enjoy life. 

How could this picture NOT break your heart?

With another storm scheduled to hit here on Wednesday night packing more rain and winds up to 50 mph, who knows what else is in store for this city?

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