Sandy’s impact on people’s life in the US
The slap is on the face of arrogant American officials. We mean no ill will towards the American people that are as much the victims of the vicious American system as are the hapless people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen or Iraq.
October 31, 2012, 08:00 EST
At least one US official showed some contrition in the face of Hurricane Sandy. New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg admitted, “Nature is an awful lot more powerful than we are.” We do not know whether the mayor is religious or not; the fact is a country mired in its self-importance and hubris, appears helpless before God’s fury.
Our blog on Hurricane Sandy (October 30) aroused the ire of rightwing fascists in the Canadian media. Perhaps it was the headline that irked them the most. We called the hurricane a “divine slap” in the face of US arrogance. We stand by it.
But for the benefit of our readers, we would like to clarify. The slap is on the face of arrogant American officials. We mean no ill will towards the American people that are as much the victims of the vicious American system as are the hapless people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen or Iraq.
Hurricane Sandy that has now been downgraded to “superstorm” has caused great devastation across the eastern United States. At least 50 deaths have been reported and 8 million households are without power in 17 states stretching all the way to Michigan. Nearly two million of those are in New York, where large swaths of lower Manhattan lost electricity and entire streets ended up under water.
New York City and New Jersey have been the hardest hit. Seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn are submerged in water. While the New York Stock Exchange announced it would open today, at least 5 million commuters will not be able to use the subway or transit system. The Wall Street sharks will be out trying to feast on their prey but for ordinary New Yorkers and residents of New Jersey, it will take a lot longer to resume normal life.
Mayor Bloomberg admitted, “Restoring power and mass transit remain the two biggest challenges in the days ahead. That recovery is a mammoth job.” It certainly is. It will take several days to pump water out of the subway tunnels and transit authority representatives are already saying it will be at least a week before train service between New Jersey and New York is restored.
Insurance companies are already talking about losses ranging from $5 billion to $10 billion. This is only for insured businesses. Many ordinary people will not be able to recover anything from insurance companies because of the manner in which these companies word their policies. Often, such storms, considered natural disasters, are not covered.
Other insurance companies impose ludicrous conditions, like changing an entire roof that most people are unable to afford and therefore, are forced to go without insurance. Some estimates put the losses at $40 billion to $50 billion if all the damage that has yet to be assessed is taken into account.
Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicted the storm would end up causing about $20 billion in damages and $10 billion to $30 billion in lost business. Another firm, AIR Worldwide, estimated losses up to $15 billion.
The power outages will impact voting in November 6 presidential elections as well. It will naturally cause major disruption if power is not restored in all areas. Also, roads may be difficult or transportation may not be available.
President Barack Obama is trying to look presidential by appearing on television frequently to make announcements about disaster relief while his Republican challenger has been campaigning using the excuse that he is organizing “storm relief events.”
What is certain is that the storm has disrupted life in large parts of the United States. It will take years to rebuild. Many people affected by the 2005 Katrina disaster have still not been able to resume normal life.
If the storm should force some humility in the otherwise arrogant American officials, then there may be some positive outcome to this tragic disaster whose principal victims are ordinary Americans.