The impact of Hurricane Sandy on New York Metro area residents and businesses has been overwhelming for all of us who live or work here, and operate businesses here. While midtown and uptown New York escaped with little damage, downtown New York City from 39 Street to Wall Street was plunged into darkness for five and half days. Residents with small children were trapped thirty to forty flights up in high rises with no lights or elevators. The elderly were at risk. Downtown New York City basically came to a halt. Subways, busses, and all public transit stopped running. Bridges and tunnels were restricted to carpooling commuters and emergency vehicles. The New York Stock Exchange closed for an historic two days and heroically reopened to calm the waiting world.
In Breezy Point, Brooklyn, an old summer beach community, one hundred homes were lost. In Belle Harbor and Rockaway, Queens power loss, flooding, extreme damage to homes rocked the area residents and businesses. It will take weeks to resume some normal life there. Neighborhoods in Staten Island experienced conditions not unlike the Lower Ward in 2005 Hurricane Katrina.
Many Long Island towns lost power completely and remain in darkness and cold. Even worse are the towns that were ripped apart like Long Beach, Lindenhurst, Islip, Merrick, and other coastal towns. Residents in Long Beach, a beautiful coastal town, suffered enormous destruction to homes and the community. Many homes were destroyed and the well-built boardwalk was ripped away. Governor Cuomo has been proactive in getting federal help and gasoline to New York residents.
Two and half million people in New Jersey lost power. Seven days later, over a million people are still without heat, hot water, lights, cooking, Internet, cell and phone service. Many people don’t have running water since rural residents rely on well water. Those lucky enough to have generators for basic utilities had heat and electricity until their generators conked out from exhaustion The storm center calls Hurricane Sandy, “New Jersey’s Katrina,” but it is also New York City and Long Island’s Katrina as well.
So how are we doing in the New York Metro area?
Emergency services and government assistance have been spotty and mediocre at best. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg’s response has been for many of us reassuring and helpful. The mayor has scheduled frequent press conferences to keep the public informed and calm. Food, shelter, and clothing have been readily available in most of lower Manhattan, However, in outer boroughs like coastal Staten Island, Breezy Point in Brooklyn, and Rockaway, Queens, residents are outraged at being abandoned by authorities and left to fend for themselves.
In New Jersey, Governor Christie adopted the right tone of compassion and concern for residents from the start. He called in federal aid and seemed to be guaranteed military help in the rebuild and recovery. Yet residents of New Jersey have yet to see one FEMA truck and tens of thousands of residents remain without heat or electric. Unlike New York City, New Jersey residents are not being kept informed at the same level as New Yorkers.
Residents in hard hit areas are relying on each other as the police are busy keeping the peace in gas lines and FEMA, Red Cross, and community and county emergency services are far and few in between. The state, counties and local communities do not any public information posted. Local officials are using land line phone service to inform residents of emergency services such as warming and charging stations and free ice and water supplies. Yet, most of the area’s telephone service has been knocked out, so these calls are to no avail.
New York and New Jersey area businesses have been devastated. Many people have not been able to get to work for a week. Businesses have been forced to close and cannot reopen without power. At Good Business New York, we are going through this challenging time with our Good-b community. Our offices went dark on Monday, October 29. We did not regain power until Saturday night in our Flatiron offices. Our building’s management company, Kew Management, has been extraordinarily helpful, keeping us closely informed on the status of the building’s power and offering alternative workspaces.
The Good-b team has also been without power, heat, Internet, cell service, or lights in our homes, making it hard for us to report back to you and keep our readers informed. A few of us remain without power in New Jersey and Long Island. We have been essentially closed for the past week and unable to operate normally like many other New Yorkers.
We are slowly getting back to normal and will be keeping you informed on Hurricane recovery services that might be helpful for you. Please keep us updated on your progress in the aftermath of Sandy at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
(As of November 5, FEMA crews have opened disaster relief stations in Staten Island.)