The description of the Hurricane Sandy aftermath coming from friends and family seems altogether different than the depiction arriving on my television. I do not know what is wrong, but something in the Sandy coverage is amiss.
Hurricane Sandy is the second most damaging storm in American history, at least in terms of economic impact. Millions of people remain without power and thousands are homeless from New York City through New Jersey and along the coast. Yet this morning, Aerosmith performed three songs on the Today show from Rockefeller Plaza with no sense that anything of importance was happening in the city.
Elected officials from the President to mayors are back-slapping, talking about their success in addressing needs, cutting red tape, and providing aid. Yet from Staten Island come heated charges that FEMA and the Red Cross are conspicuously absent as photos of suburban residents picking through trash, looking for food, appear on the internet.
I am hearing from people who are in the dark, cold, tired, and dirty. I hear of fist-fights, hours long waits for fuel, and price gouging. Sporadic reports of looting are emerging. On the network news I see bands of police manning carpooling check-points, while others close roads for a Bette Midler Halloween party.
Fuel is the most desired commodity. Service stations report having ample supplies, but lack the electricity to operate the pumps. Yet, two massive generators are running, and a third is idle just in case one of the two fail, to power a media tent for New York City marathon coverage.
The conflicting images and reports from the New York City metro area are absolutely confusing and contradictory. As a result I do not feel like I have a good understanding of the Sandy aftermath in places I am intimately familiar with. One moment it seems that everything is fine. At other times it seems like NY-NJ are on the edge of chaos.
I can make no sense of things.
New York City Mayor Bloomberg joined the parade of billionaires endorsing Barack Obama for President just moments before the President pledged $100 million in aid to New York City. The new arena complex in Brooklyn is set to cost $4.9 billion. Bloomberg said he based his endorsement on agreement with Obama on climate change, yet the recent storm trends pale in comparison to the regularity of storms in the 1950s.
Volunteer utility workers are being turned away by union forces because the volunteers lack union cards – powerless residents be damned. It is eerily reminiscent of the New York City union plow operators who failed to clear the streets, thus denying access to emergency medical care, during last winter’s snow.
I do not know the full story behind what is happening in the places I know and love. The mixed messages coming from the area tell me something is rotten, though I know not what it is. Petty and partisan politics and ideologically driven news and news-making are the usual, and most likely, suspects. I hope the areas can be restored as quickly as possible, and that the full story will emerge shortly thereafter.
I want your take on this. Please comment.