Though New York and New Jersey bore the brunt of the destruction, at its peak, the storm reached 1,000 miles across, killed more than 100 people in 10 states, knocked out power to 8.5 million and canceled nearly 20,000 flights. More than 12 inches of rain fell in Easton, Md., and 34 inches of snow fell in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Property losses were estimated at at least $20 billion, putting the storm among the most expensive disasters in the U.S.
The 34 inches of snow in Tennessee struck me. So did the "1,000 miles across." As I said in my last journal entry, though Hurricane Sandy is being described as a "superstorm," and it was big and bad, it was not nearly of the magnitude described for the superstorm in The Coming Global Superstorm or The Day After Tommorrow where it is described as covering most of the northern hemisphere.
Still, it may be that we've found a new term for the popular lexicon that refers to a kind of storm that is simply greater in magnitude in intensity, geographical extent, and effects (e.g., rain, snow, flood, fire, all from the same storm). By this definition, Sandy certainly was a superstorm. I expect we'll hear the term applied more often now, especially over the winter.
Another after-effect of the storm, that should be taken careful note of, is the gasoline shortage. The Weather Channel says:
Among the biggest lingering challenges Saturday was the gas shortage. Bloomberg said that resolving it could take days. Lines curled around gas stations for many blocks all over the stricken region, including northern New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie imposed rationing that recalled the worst days of fuel shortages of the 1970s. Queues of honking cars, frustrated drivers and people on foot carrying containers were just the latest testament to the misery unleashed by Sandy.
I experienced this kind of misery firsthand after Hurricane Katrina passed through my hometown. Gasoline was in short supply for the following week. There was an "underground" communications channel that alerted its members to arrivals of gasoline at the local stations at any time of the day or night. I remember my wife getting a phone call at about 2:00am from a friend who told her there would be gasoline at a particular convenience store within the hour. We hurriedly dressed and drove our vehicles, each with less than a quarter of fuel in the tanks, to the store and joined the line that reached around the block. The gas arrived and we got our share.
This just emphasizes our civilization's dependence on fossil fuels that we take for granted until we can't get it--especially in areas where public transportation is negligible. Even then, there is a disconnect between recognizing this dependency and our lack of backup, and coping in those times when the energy infrastructure breaks down. Our ruling elites can be nonsensical, even cruel, in such times. I was also struck with an article on the Socialist Worker website that reported:
Mayor Bloomberg ordered all city workers--including non-essential personnel--to come to work on Monday and Tuesday, even though the public transit system and the majority of bridges and tunnels were shut down. And if you didn't show up, Bloomberg threatened to dock your pay.
During the Katrina-induced gasoline shortage in my town, the workers at my job also had to show up and were simply told to carpool. Whether or not we were actually needed, that attitude shows an amazing denial of the tightrope our high-tech civilization walks. It also shows that for widespread fossil-fuel-based energy shortages and outages, there is no Plan B.
Our friends Rocko and Stephanie live northeast of New York in Rhode Island. They say they never lost their electricity and fared well. I don't know how the gasoline shortages are affecting them, but they are grateful to have (literally) weathered the storm.
Donna and I have had our storms to weather as well this week. We're in the process of buying a house (a foreclosure we are repairing) and have had to deal with all kinds of corporate difficulties and technocalities. Of course, every time I've bought or sold a house, I've nearly given up in despair over the process. I may expound on this in a future journal entry.
On a more positive note, I've pretty much pulled together the first issue of the newsletter I will put out in the next couple of weeks. It will be called The Dentville Stories Newsletter and will provide background on the characters, settings, and situations for my novel-in-the-works (Dentville: The Ancients' Legacy; see the Dentville tab for the webpage). Please watch for the newsletter's debut and I hope you'll subscribe to it. It's free.