COLUMN: Dave Leaderhouse — Oct. 31, 2012

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Dave Leaderhouse
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Superstorm Sandy certainly lived up to its billing as widespread damage was inflicted on the eastern coast of the United States on Monday night and will likely continue to wreak havoc for a bit longer.

One has to wonder how much more the city of New York can endure as it is still recovering from the effects of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre. Now this massive storm hits and while the events from more than a decade ago cost many more lives, the number of people the storm will affect is staggering.

It is said that more than five million people use the subways every day and damage to this transportation system is reported to be crippling.

When I was watching some of the coverage on television I was amazed at how much water was entering the city. I’ve been to New York a couple of times and a person always forgets that Manhattan is an island and the wave surges that came off the Atlantic Ocean made their way up both the Hudson and East Rivers forcing an incredible amount of salt water into the subway system.

The electrical systems for the subways are undoubtedly damaged, which means that commuters into the city will be without that form of transportation and driving in the city is hazardous at the best of times so if more people have to bring personal vehicles to work, then I am glad I am not there right now.

Something else that struck me while watching the storm coverage was the homeless people. It is well documented that the catacombs in the subway system house thousands of people. Were these people evacuated and how, if at all possible, would authorities know if everyone was removed from the danger zone?

Reports on TV say that 16 people have died from the storm, but is that number accurate and will the true number ever be known? One of the known dead is the captain of a schooner ship that was moving to Florida from Connecticut. All other passengers were recovered from the wild Atlantic waters, but the captain apparently went down with his ship. Amazing!

The loss of life and trauma caused by the storm is one thing, but the economic recovery is another. The United States right now is not on solid ground financially and this storm could push them to a dangerous area where they will be requesting assistance from the G20 countries as opposed to being one of the leaders in supplying aid during a crisis. It really is that bad.

When the presidential debates were held a couple of weeks ago, I listened in to one of them and the numbers the candidates were throwing around for military expenses was mind numbing. They were saying the words trillions of dollars would be added to the defense budget. I’m thinking they might have to use that money to rebuild their own country first.

What makes Sandy so much more incredible is that New York wasn’t the only place to be hit. The entire coastline of New Jersey was rocked and when I saw the old wooden pier at Ocean City fall into the ocean I almost shed a tear as my wife and I were there about seven years ago and walked the boardwalk that led to that majestic structure.

Now it is Canada’s turn to brace for the remnants of the storm with heavy rain and high winds to hit most of Eastern Canada last night and all day today. Again, how much more can the Maritimes take as that area constantly gets the aftereffects of Atlantic storms?

Living in Saskatchewan we can thank our lucky stars. We do get some severe weather, but nothing like what the east coast gets every year from Sept. 1 right through to Christmas. Now the west coast is vulnerable as well as the earthquake that hit just off the British Columbia coast on the weekend was a little too close to home. What makes that situation even scarier is there are reports that more are to come.

I sure hope that Sandy is the last major blow to the United States for a while. Although there are a number of characteristics of that country that I am not fond of, they are our neighbours and we need them for so many reasons.

 

Dave Leaderhouse is a reporter with the Prince Albert Daily Herald.

Organizations: World Trade Centre, Prince Albert Daily Herald

Geographic location: United States, New York, Manhattan Atlantic Ocean Eastern Canada Florida Connecticut New Jersey Saskatchewan British Columbia

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