Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy After-Action Report

It got nasty last night. That said, it could have been worse. Much worse.

This is not to minimize the damage, which is extensive and mortal. However, Sandy sped up so the bulk of the storm was on land by the time of highest tide. It's likely that Zone B would have needed to be evacuated, but where? How?

There could have been hundreds dead. We ducked a bullet.

As I understand it, there are extensive power outages, fifty homes are burning in the Rockaways, all the subway tunnels under the river are flooded, as well as two car tunnels. Power was taken down in lower Manhattan as a precaution, but additional power outages happened when the steam plant at 14th Street blew up, effectively, in an unexpected flood.

The water level peaked at 13 feet above flood stage, unprecedented in NYC.

And it's quiet. Usually by now, I can hear a stream of traffic outside my window as I prepare to go into work but nothing except a constant wind, lighter than the worst last night (the building I'm in shook a few times).

And no planes. Both JFK and LaGuardia flooded, which had never happened before. It's possible they're closed indefinitely. The electronics on the runways may have fritzed. They didn't shut down in time.

In some sections of the city, water mains are gone and storm drains/sewers are backed up into the streets. Water will be an issue and could potentially be the lethal part of all this (I think I read that only one or two people are confirmed dead in the city proper, with four more in the suburbs).

Both the Gowanus Canals and Newtown Creek overflowed their banks. Both are Superfund cleanup sites. In Moonachie, NJ, a levee gave way, and a wall of water has crashed into the town.

The sun is only just coming up bright enough to light the overcast skies. It will be a long day of sorting out trouble. It's a creepy feeling. There's another high tide still to come this morning, not as bad as last night, but water on top of water? Not good.

I think the worst is just to be uncovered.