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November 02, 2012

After Taking a Victory Lap Photo Op, Obama Leaves an Apocalpyse-Struck New York and New Jersey To Fend For Themselves

Via Hot Air, New York City -- and large swaths of New Jersey, too -- are currently wastelands without power, food, or drivable roads.

I just returned from Manhattan. I ran for 5 hours with stops, covering 12 miles in total, scoping the island from west to east. You will not hear these stories from the Mayor or Governor; these are my observations, informed by discussions with real people who live in lower Manhattan:

1) Virtually every retailer, restaurant and grocery store south of 38th street is CLOSED. This is in an area covering 8 square miles. I only observed a handful of bodegas in Soho and the East Village, along with Ben’s Pizza on W3rd and MacDougal serving customers. Whole Foods Union Square had a sign reading “because there is no electricity, we cannot open.” There is no food, other than what you have in your refrigerator.

2) To that point, there are close to 400,000 people living below 38th street without power. The mayor earlier said it could be 3 days without power; some Con Ed guys I spoke with in the East Village think it could be longer. Nobody knows.

3) No working traffic lights in this region (drivers are generally being cautious and appropriately yielding to pedestrians). Apartment stairwells are pitch black. High rises have no elevator access.


5) There is no running water or flushing toilets for people living in the Jacob Riis Houses and surrounding NYCHA buildings on the Lower East Side. In my estimate, this is roughly 20,000 people. One family I spoke with is packing their bags and moving to Brooklyn until services are restored. But it did not appear that all residents were evacuating, even as their toilets did not flush.

6) I did not witness a single Red Cross Truck or FEMA Vehicle or in lower Manhattan. Recall the assistance these agencies provided after 9/11 - this is NOT HAPPENING. There are bound to be hundreds of elderly people, rich and poor, who live on the upper floors of buildings with elevators that are now disabled. IF POWER IS NOT RESTORED, THIS WILL MOVE FROM BEING AN ECONOMIC DISASTER TO A HUMANITARIAN DISASTER.


9) The water from the storm surge was invariably contaminated - floating garbage, wood pieces from the dock, and possibly sewage. One Nuyorican woman who lived on Avenue C near 12th street noted the water level peaked above her waist. She was still visibly shaken this afternoon. She also recalled a huge noise at 8 pm when the substation failed. The sky, in her words, turned from black to green.

In New Jersey, entire sections of the shore were essentially wiped off the map by the storm. Flotsam and broken timbers are left behind. Beach towns are are now just beaches.

Staten Island -- part of New York City that rarely gets much media coverage, as reporters don't live there -- is devastated. At least 19 people are dead; they'll probably find more bodies.

Watch the video there. FEMA's not in Staten Island, by the way. I remember the media being very angry at George Bush for not directing FEMA to New Orleans in a manner they judged timely.

But the outrage is growing. Despite my snipe that reporters don't typically cover Staten Island, NBC covered it (!!!), and they did note the anger growing at the slowness of relief efforts.

And old people are still on high floors of buildings without working elevators, or food, or sufficient emergency response.

And where's Obama? Well, he put in his appearance, said a few Magic Words, and returned to the campaign trail, with laurels around his neck for doing... nothing.

And Michael Bloomberg? He's endorsing candidates, attending basketball games (can't miss the Brooklyn Nets' first game), hosting the marathon, and generally being a twat, as usual.

Walter Russell Mead makes a great point, excerpted at Hot Air.

Admittedly, getting public support and finding the money for flood protection would be hard, but it is exactly that kind of hard job that governments are supposed to do. Leadership is getting the important things done, not looking busy on secondary tasks while the real needs of the city go quietly unmet.

The problem with nanny state governance isn’t just that it’s intrusive. It isn’t just that it stifles business with over-regulation, and it isn’t just that it empowers busybodies and costs money. It’s that it distracts government from the really big jobs that it ought to be doing.

Mayor Bloomberg has done an admirable job under great pressure as the city reels from Sandy’s attack. But an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure. The city needed flood protection for its subways and electricity grid—and it didn’t get it. If the Mayor had spent less time and less of his political capital focusing on minutiae, this storm could have played out very differently.

Allah ads his wrath:

Whether global warming contributed to Sandy or not, an AGW true believer in a position of power should have had special concerns about flooding and protecting infrastructure. To preach it and not act is as silly as a guy running for reelection on his terrorist ass-kicking credentials refusing to consult his counterterror team during a terrorist attack. But then, this is the myth of Bloomberg the visionary manager. The days-long power outage in Queens that I endured six years ago also happened on his watch; he could have used that as a catalyst to make upgrading the city’s old power grid his cause celebre, but he’s much more of a guns-and-Big-Gulps sort of “visionary” than a guy concerned with keeping the lights on and the trains running.

There's an old observation that as long as you endorse Democrats, you can say all sorts of racially-edgy and misogynistic things and you're fine. You've got your ticket punched. You're up to date on your tithings to the church of Political Correctness.

Let's add an addendum to that: So long as you talk up Global Warming you are freed entirely from any responsibility to take sufficient precautions against storms, and all responsibility for managing their aftermath, too.

After all, you're against hurricanes. You're on record as being against hurricanes. If it were up to you, hurricanes wouldn't even exist.

So you can skip on flood protection or upgrading your power generation and transmission, and you can jet off to Vegas during a crisis (again) or meet with the swells gathered for the New York City marathon instead of seeing to relief efforts.

You believe in Global Warming, and you yap some words about it sporadically. You are therefore disburdened of actually having to take any actions before, during, or after storms.

You're against storms.

You said so on TV and everything.

It's not your problem.

Now put down that Big Gulp and come quietly.

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posted by Ace at 10:45 AM

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