In the wake of Hurricane Sandy New York’s Long Island has retrograded into a
gasoline starved, powerless wasteland that is quickly passing beyond Thunderdome. Mostly it’s the fault of the highly incompetent Long Island Power Authority, aka LIPA.
People are standing on line for hours upon hours for gas like Latino’s trying to vote in Arizona. On Long Island the level of deprivation from the luxuries of the 21st Century is more like Gilligan’s Island.
Infrastructure is still recovering, there’s not a well rested cop anywhere in town and government services like routine policing and fire fighting are at best questionable. Headlining the tragedy is the town of Breezy Point, Queens, where a fire devastated over one hundred houses. Ironically, this may actually save some peoples asses, because the subsequent flood destroyed most of what was left of the town. Flood insurance is impossible to get, or if you can it’s an absolute fortune. Fire insurance is much more affordable. Not that anyone wants to see their
neighbors burned out of their homes, but at least the Insurance Companies will be unable to weasel out of paying. In our complex, overly litigious world it’s entirely possible that some aggressive lawyering by the Insurance Companies could STILL get out of paying if they can prove the town was destroyed by the flood BEFORE the fire. This part of the story will likely take months to unfold.
They have all failed to provide reliable power for the bedroom community of the World’s Financial Capitol. Forget the guy with the Moves Like Romney, he can drain the champagne out of the pool and move back to his place in the city (as long as it’s not Staten Island). Right now there are cops, firemen, teachers and doctors stuck, for lack of gasoline (that crazy Jimmy carter and his wild warnings about not trusting Arabs who he painted as greedy oil barons who hated us).
Personally I feel really bad for the people who are inconvenienced, but even worse is that this lesson in what happens when there is no Federal Government to speak of will likely be lost on the most Republican (and therefore most delusional and self-hating) parts of New York State.
Things won’t get better anytime soon and here’s why
LIPA– aside from rumors that out of state crews were turned away there is the very real fact that LIPA assured Long Island at least 10 days of power interruption BEFORE Hurricane Sandy even made landfall. Like 5 days before it hit New Jersey, where among other horrible events, it failed to kill Snooki, they KNEW we would have a 10 day outage. Doesn’t this mean that they could have cut as much as 5 days off the repair time? Or worse yet, does this mean they would have needed 15 days if they had no warning?
Long Island Politics– You do the right thing, you get rewarded. I was never able to establish myself politically, but many of my friends are at the middle rungs of both our local political parties. This is what I am usually told- LIPA is where people who ‘did the right thing’ end up working. No one will fire these people. Nassau County is so dysfunctional that they spent decades slowly killing the Golden Goose and point of pride that was the future Brooklyn Islanders. Endless voting and re-voting, filibusters motivated by sheer greed and basically shaking down Charles Wang for every dime he’s got. Is it any wonder he will be moving his team to Brooklyn?
It’s a terminal moraine– That’s right this place is no island at all. It’s merely a huge deposit of Canadian soil left behind when glaciers receded after our last ice age (an isolated event if Republican ‘scientists’ are to be believed). Like a sandcastle at the edge of high tide, there’s only one way it can end. Fortunately for us geologic time has a rather leisurely pace. Rest assured, this large deposit of soil that really shouldn’t be here will eventually disappear into the ocean. The sun will also go out one day too, but unlike our star, Long Island is moving towards its end much faster. Frayed at the edges, the barrier islands have inconceivably been developed for housing. Now let’s remember- these are areas where nature WANTS to flood. It’s only a couple of feet above sea level and if proper urban planning would be done it would just be parkland. Greedy and irresponsible builders developed these areas to be cabana communities. Somehow, over time many became “winterized” and people lived in them year round. Now the Long Beach, NY area is a pretty big population center and the only city on Long Island. This entire area is probably unprotectable from floods and hurricanes. It’s heartbreaking, but the
sheer inevitability of it numbs the mind.
I can’t blame people for wanting to live there. It’s beautiful. It’s also an outlying barrier, once much larger, being slowly swallowed by the sea.
It’s Climate Change, Stupid– Let’s face it, 100 year storms happen every year now. I can’t fault Con Edison for only having a 12 foot seawall around their downtown substation. It should have been enough. Its epic, it’s Biblical, it’s Road Warrior.
For 10 days the biggest city in the world has had little gas, therefore little traffic. Speeding is now impossible because there are not cars to weave in and out of to avoid cops. Even worse- its human capital is stuck behind the bottlenecks that bridge the excellent natural harbor that bought Europeans here in the first place. Nature has a cruel sense of humor. How a tiny island only feet above sea level could ever be allowed to become so important despite being rife with natural hazards just shows how little we know of the behavior of our planet.
Sandy was little more than a tropical storm, a Category One Hurricane. With weather more wild and unpredictable than ever, how far off can be a hit by something more substantial be? Can LIPA be allowed to continue as a political patronage pasture with no ability to respond to storms, even the smaller ones, any longer? Doesn’t cutting Long Island off from New York City have a worldwide ripple effect? By sheer weight of numbers you’re talking about a huge chunk of the people who make Wall Street, and the economy, work. We can only guess. What I can guarantee is that there will be every effort made by the county to keep the power lines above ground and vulnerable, maintain nothing and not spend a dime on preparedness.
It’s time for the monster that is/was LILCO/KEYSPAN/LIPA to be bought under control and invest in future preparedness. Sadly, Nassau County in particular just doesn’t want this. It’s a county with taxes so ridiculously high soon only their very well compensated local police will be able to afford to live there.
While it produced some fantastic musical performances the 12-12-12 Concert will likely be remembered more for its awesome contribution to Rock & Roll then how much good it did. While i trust the proceeds will be distributed equitably theres far too much damage to expect much impact even if it raises a half billion dollars. My trip to manhattan yesterday shows it still being held together with bubblegum and duct tape. The scale of destruction I have now seen personally is too pervasive for anything to change soon.
Now the surest sign that this disaster will continue to unfold in slow motion for years to come has arrived, FEMA trailers. This is far from over….