One year ago today, 8.5 million people in the New York City area were without heat or power as Hurricane Sandy blasted the soft middle of our lives — thrusting us backward a hundred years behind a wall of water into at least three days of cold and darkness:
Monday night, at 11:00 pm sharp in Jersey City, New Jersey, the lights went out and stayed off until last night at 7:43pm. That’s three days without power or heat. Hurricane Sandy was a massively nasty beast, and we’re just now starting the recovery process. We are hungry and scavenging for food. Supermarkets are closed. Few places have power.
For many of those directly touched by the floodwater a year ago, life has yet to return to normal, and many will never recover the good lives they once had before the storm; and that is a clear failure of the government safety net and the lack of any sort of real social fabric that meshes us together. The King has no clothes, and we don’t, either!
When it is better, and more profitable, to cut and run and abandon than it is to stay and rebuild and recover — we all have a problem.
The NYTimes puts the knife to one particularly painful bone: The future health of the subway system.
The consequences, officials acknowledge, will be felt for years, most acutely in the form of persistent service disruptions that will dog riders across the system — in areas directly touched by the floods and in others where storm-related triage could delay scheduled work intended to keep the subways in a state of good repair. It can feel like far more than a year ago that the authority was cast as a hero of the storm, restoring much of its system more quickly than expected while other transit agencies flailed.
As a resident of Jersey City — and as a New York City dweller who spends more time in Manhattan than I do in my home — I find it stupefying how slowly things move in the midst of any tragedy to return people back to a new normal.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by the lack of concentration and caring when it comes to rebuilding homes and lives and seasides — there’s no money for education or food for children or proper care for the elderly — so why should we expect anyone but ourselves to help us out of a watery pit of moldy doom?
Sure, there are some small efforts that temporarily provide support and love and money — but it’s never enough and it never lasts long after the TV cameras fade and newspaper ink dries.
I still cannot believe how long it has taken us to “recover” from the World Trade Center demolition.
Just five days ago, the Port Authority posted an odd Tweet that, FINALLY, the West Concourse was open to pedestrian traffic at the Word Trade Center — and they even provided a “photo” to prove their point — but it is real or just a rendering?
We live in a faux world of false promises. We pay taxes and expect services in return for the tithing — but the mew and caw from those collecting our money is that there’s nothing left to give back.
We’re in debt as a nation, we owe as a city, and our hopes have grown fallow of mind — and so we all sit, waiting for our inevitable end, while thinking back on how great the world was before the flood, before the fire, before the nature of humankind began to scorch the earth beneath us…