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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Looting After Superstorm Sandy

*Rethinking Disaster Preparedness*
If the lawless aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is any indication, and if electric, internet and other important utilities are not swiftly restored to New York, Long Island and New Jersey, then the "major disasters" declared in those heavily populated areas, caused by Hurricane Sandy's unprecedented destruction, will be exponentially compounded soon.
Perhaps as early as this evening, when darkness descends and people begin to forage for food and water, or for other desirable commodities that may be temptingly unguarded and therefore ripe for the taking.
Although the death toll from this montrous superstorm so far is surprisingly marginal, millions of people still remain in these devastated districts, without utilities nor the means to leave if they want to or must. Below the flooded streets of Manhattan the subways are flowing with a toxic effluence formed by the fifthy waters of the East River and a sudden salty deluge from the Atlantic Ocean. And along the Atlantic's ravaged coastline southward the waters are only gradually beginning to recede, revealing a similarly bleak scenario.
Gone, but hardly forgotten, the damaging waves responsible for such mayhem may yet return at high tide, for days to come.
The famed NY metropolitan area with its internationally vital financial district is all but at a standstill at the moment, authorities and emergency crews barely able to crawl about in order to properly assess the damages and the scope of their citizens' needs, let alone to address them.
This is the real disaster unfolding--residents in afflicted zones having to resort to their own devices to survive while their leaders scramble to get a grip on the situation. All because city planners and heads of government had hid their heads in the sand for years and, as a result of this collective denial, were not prepared for the type and scale of disasters that accompany global warming.
Though surely, whether they wished to see or not, they had fair warning of what the future held in store well before Sandy struck such a deadly blow. What with Hurricane Irene grimly foreshadowing such events only 14 months prior.
In the wake of Sandy's widespread and costly destruction, the governor of New York state has just issued a statement calling, belatedly, for natural disaster preparedness to be seriously rethought now, emphasizing that the dramatic shifts in climate must finally be acknowledged and fully planned for.
Great idea, Mr. Cuomo. But in the meantime, the hours pass without relief, and soon night on a crippled region will fall.

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