Open Thread: Surviving Sandy

What are your experiences? Lessons learned?


6 thoughts on “Open Thread: Surviving Sandy

  1. Nakajima Kikka

    The last several days have been interesting in NYC. Lessons learned? First, if you own any kind of motorized transport, even just a Vespa scooter, fill up the fuel tank before the storm hits. Gasoline and diesel fuel are the first things to become unavailable in the aftermath, as gas stations either run of fuel or can’t pump anything due to lack of power. In NJ and NYC, lines at gas stations are literally MILES long, both cars and people carrying gas cans (to get fuel for their generators; see below). People are driving around and around, stupidly burning up their remaining gasoline trying to find an open station or idling while waiting in line, often running out of gas in the process.

    Second, for the overwhelming majority of people, owning a gasoline/diesel-powered generator is a complete waste of money. See above for why. Living without electric power for a week (even more) is not the end of the world. Use battery-powered flashlights when you absolutely need high-intensity light at night, and candles otherwise (keep them in good candlesticks, in a safe, fixed location. DON’T WALK AROUND WITH THEM WHILE LIGHTED).
    For important news, have a portable, battery-powered or crank-operated transistor radio. To stay warm? Well, that’s what sweaters, long underwear and blankets are for. They really work.

    Third, buy non-perishable food that doesn’t require refrigeration before the storm. When the power goes out, anything requiring refrigeration will spoll quickly. This is actually a lot more important than whether or not you need to cook, er, heat it. Anyone with a gas stove doesn’t need electricity to fire it up (of course you do need to have some MATCHES handy).

    Fourth, buy lower-alcohol beer and wine before the storm. If you don’t have many containers, it’s ok to buy bottled water as well. Beer and wine will help prevent you from contracting an intestinal disease if the tap water stops or is no longer potable. If you have kids and want juice for them, buy it canned.

    Fifth, fill up your bathtub and sinks with water for flushing toilets before the storm. Fill up as many containers as you have with tap water as well.

    Sixth, if the local government issues an evacuation order for your area, evacuate. So many people are still trapped in flooded areas, some in NYC and LI, a lot more in NJ, because they were stupid, and a few are dead because of it.

  2. Nakajima Kikka

    NJ just imposed odd-even gas rationing, about three days too late. There’s basically no fuel to be had, anywhere within the greater NY/NJ Sandy “strike zone”. Power came back on in a few scattered areas late this afternoon, most notably in parts of Lower Manhattan (EV, LES). But very large numbers of people will be spending a fourth night in the dark and in the cold. Nightly temps were in the mid-40s before, but tonight are expected to go down to the mid-30s. On the whole, people are dealing with the stress fairly well, all things considered. There hasn’t been much looting, and despite what you may be hearing on the national news, lines at gas stations, ATM machines, and those stores that are still open have been mostly orderly. There’s many stories of real heroism, such as during the evacuations of New York Lagone and Bellvue hospitals, and MTA workers going into flooded subway tunnels to clear them. We’re not turning on each other.

    But the situation and living conditions in the coastal areas that now lie in complete ruins are deteriorating pretty fast. There, food is in increasingly short supply, running water is either non-existent or contaminated, the buildings and roads are smashed and in many cases still flooded, there’s no fuel, no power, no heat, and nighttime temperatures will be in the 30s for the next several days. More than a few are elderly; most of the people trapped there are not in good physical condition, were not psychologically prepared to cope with disaster, and did little or no pre-storm preparation. There’s a rising sense of panic inside Staten Island, and anxiety levels are very high in Hoboken, the Jersey Shore, and the southern coastlines of Brooklyn, Queens, and LI. Some of the people there could be in real trouble soon. Bloomberg removed a huge potential flashpoint when he reversed course tonight and cancelled the NY Marathon, scheduled for Sunday.

    I hear there’s a big wintery storm headed our way early next week, a real Nor’easter. Hmmm.

  3. Nakajima Kikka

    Well, everyone seems to have made it through another very cold night. Well, almost everyone. The first murder occurred in NYC since the storm. It happened in the Bronx.

    Within the city, progress at restoring power remains slow, particularly outside of Manhattan, where so many fallen trees have knocked down power lines. Incidents of looting are beginning to pick up, supermarkets and grocery stores being the prime targets. Fuel remains in extremely short supply; FEMA has placed fuel trucks at a small number of locations within the city for distribution, supposedly for everyone, but the police, firemen, and power crews have priority. Personally, I think FEMA is just trying to boost public morale. The MTA has partially restored bus and subway service, and service on two rail lines out of the city, the Harlem Line and the New Haven Line, has been restored. That’s done a lot more to help morale, I think. Also, Manhatten above 34th street is in pretty good shape, mostly because that part of Manhatten never lost power.

    The word is getting out about the big snowstorm coming our way next week, amping up the anxiety. Staten Island and the Rockaways are slipping into despair. Many are having a hard time comprehending what has happened to them. Some are saying absurd, non-sensical things, insisting that they’ve “always been good citizens, obeyed the law, flied the American flag. The city needs to drop whatever it’s doing and immediately send ALL your equipment to Staten Island”. They’re afraid to stay, but even more afraid to go, and the fact that so many of them are overweight and obese is part of the reason why, I think. You can really see how not being in good physical condition becomes a limitation in a disaster situation. All that fast food and high fructose corn syrup is coming home to roost.

    My neighborhood actually never lost power, so we’ve been pretty lucky so far. Basic pre-storm preparation has helped a lot, too, as did the fact that I don’t live in Zone A or B. But this ain’t over yet, and I’m hoarding my gasoline just in case.

  4. Eric Blair

    Here in Philadelphia it was basically a big windy rain storm. A few places are out power, due to trees coming down, but that’s it. My neighborhood didn’t lose power either. Everything is pretty much back to normal, after two days of mass transit being turned off.

    Kikka’s lessons learned are all good points, Assuming you’re not one of those people whose dwelling got flooded or washed away. However, it’s pretty obvious that the modern, high density metropolis is pretty much unlivable without electricity.

    The other big lesson, which no one will have learned, is don’t live in a storm surge zone. Both the Jersey shore and places like Staten Island were all over built in the first place, and were just disasters waiting to happen. But various people have been saying that for years–I think Senator Bill Bradley brought it up in a book he wrote in the 80’s or 90’s.

    It will be interesting to see what gets rebuilt.


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