I have been through quite a few hurricanes in my life and Sandy was just a glancing blow for us in North Carolina. My wife in Virginia Beach Virginia says that for once due to the storm sewers being cleaned out recently that our neighborhood is not flooded. However I have a lot of friends in the Northeast in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Maryland and DC who are being hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.
Lower Manhattan flooding (top) and Atlantic City NJ Boardwalk
Sandy came ashore this evening making a direct hit on the coast of New Jersey. The storm is setting records. It is the most powerful Hurricane to go this far north since the Long Island Express of 1938. The barometric pressure is quite low, 947 millibars as it came ashore, and lower than that this morning. In size it is immense nearly 1000 miles in diameter affecting most of the East Coast from the Carolinas north. Storm surge is setting records and many cities along the coast are flooding.
Hoboken NJ PATH station (top) and Randolph County West Virginia
The human and economic impacts will be enormous. Power has gone out for millions and it is expected that 10-20 million people could be without power for some time. Reports are that the subways of New York are beginning to flood. There is a danger that other infrastructure damage, including damage to banking and financial institutions could extend the suffering for a prolonged period of time and to people not in the path of the storm. The fact that Sandy has combined with a winter storm has made it much worse. The storm is causing blizzards in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. This is a major disaster in the making.
The Tomb of the Unkowns
First responders as always will take a good share of the initial hit from the storm, but it will be up to others at the State and Federal level as well as NGOs and individuals to respond. As of now National Guard Units and elements the Active Duty Forces under the the Command of USNORTHCOM and FEMA are preparing to move to assist. However, the effects of the storm damage will take the efforts of all of us to get through.
The Point Emerald Island North Carolina
For those who have never been a first responder or have been impacted by a massive natural disaster that overwhelms local and state agencies this may be a foreign concept. However having been a first responder who has also dealt with the theoretical aspects of disaster response in military and FEMA courses I know that within 24-36 hours most local first responders and agencies are spend rounds, they are as much victims as the people that they try to assist.
As Americans our lives and livelihoods are so closely intertwined with each other and what happens in different parts of the country and world it is impossible for a single State or region to bear the brunt of such disasters as Katrina or Sandy by themselves. The response must go beyond attempts to capitalize on the disaster for political purposes to actually being a nation again. The people being affected by Sandy are not strangers. They are friends, family and fellow Americans.
For the moment the Presidential campaigns have ceased campaigning, although pundits and political flacks on both sides of our political chasm are still acting as if Sandy is simply another political event. Personally I think that people like that have lost something of their humanity. This is not about a political agenda, it is about our friends, family and fellow Americans being slammed with a natural disaster that we have not seen the likes of in years.
I have friends in all the sates affected. They span the political and religious spectrum and all are in harms way tonight and in the next few days and all stand the chance of losing life, home or health as a result of this storm.
Please pray for these people, our families, friends, neighbors and fellow Americans during this time.