Archives For: Hurricane Sandy

Growing Safer Trees

Nov 3 2012 @ 10:29am


Dominique Browning provides tips:

As a rule, in this day and age, large trees shouldn’t be hanging over a house, unless you don’t mind living dangerously. Trees near a house are okay, so long as they have lots of space for their roots. But all too often we’re squeezing trees into lousy spaces, especially trees on the strips next to sidewalks in cities and towns alike, or the trees growing out of rocky outcroppings, whose roots are compromised.

What usually makes these trees vulnerable is poor drainage. The ground gets very wet, water doesn’t drain properly because there’s nowhere for it to go, and then the trees lose their footing, so to speak. Up and over they go. Tree roots are surprisingly shallow. If you go look closely at an overturned tree, you’ll be amazed at how little root system there is for such a big creature. Especially if the roots have been constricted by substructure concrete for roadbeds. Trees need to spread their roots to be more stable.

(A car crushed by a tree following Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in the Financial District of New York, United States. By Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Inundated Art

Nov 3 2012 @ 8:32am

Jerry Saltz walks through Chelsea and reports that "a huge part of the New York art world has suffered a colossal blow":

Widespread devastation was in painful evidence in scores and scores of ground floor galleries between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. Almost every ground floor gallery had been inundated with four or more feet of water. All of the many basement storage facilities were flooded. Computers and desk equipment were wiped out. Reams and reams of irretrievable historical material stored in notebooks and gallery files were washed away, destroyed. Sculptures, crates, furniture, and paintings floated inside water-filled galleries, ramming walls and other works of art. Whole shows were destroyed.

Many of the businesses may not recover:

I asked dealers if they had insurance. Most have it for the work. Some have it for flood damage. Most don't have any insurance other than on the art. This could spell the end of many galleries small and large.

Continue Reading...

The Marathon Must Go On? Ctd

Nov 3 2012 @ 7:28am

A reader writes:

I seem to be in a very small minority here but I think canceling the NYC marathon was a stupid idea. Or, more accurately, people wanting to cancel the marathon (you included) are misinformed and mal-intentioned. It's hard to blame Bloomberg and the people who put the marathon on since the growing protests more or less forced their hands.

The marathon brings a $340 million dollar economic boost to the area. Considering that this storm is estimated to cost us $50 billion $, I think it's quite shortsighted to turn that down. Some of the biggest beneficiaries from this marathon windfall are restaurants, which are some of the hardest hit businesses from the storm. The marathon pays the city $1.6 million to put on the marathon. Will this telethon that is on right now even raise that much?

Logistically, the marathon is doable. We have 35,000 police officers. Having 500-1000 of them spend six hours directing traffic to reap a nice economic boom for the area is not a misapplication of resources. Furthermore, these resources (water, generators, volunteers, hotel rooms) are not zero-sum.  Cancelling the marathon is not going to make them magically help with the recovery. Those generators that were to power the finish line area weren't pulled away from powering homes in Staten Island.

Continue Reading...

Face Of The Day

Nov 2 2012 @ 6:56pm


A local resident collects sandwiches from a streetside aid distribution center set up by the Christian International Center in the Staten Island borough of New York City on November 2, 2012. Hundreds of thousands of people in Staten Island remain without electricity in areas affected by superstorm Sandy. By John Moore/Getty Images.

Insuring Against Disaster

Nov 2 2012 @ 5:58pm


It's becoming increasingly expensive:

On Oct. 17 the giant German reinsurance company Munich Re issued a prescient report titled Severe Weather in North America. Globally, the rate of extreme weather events is rising, and “nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America.”

From 1980 through 2011, weather disasters caused losses totaling $1.06 trillion. Munich Re found “a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades.” By contrast, there was “an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe, and 1.5 in South America.” Human-caused climate change “is believed to contribute to this trend,” the report said, “though it influences various perils in different ways.”

Sarah Kliff digs in on actuarial forecasting:

Continue Reading...

The Marathon Must Go On? Ctd

Nov 2 2012 @ 4:42pm


Daniel Gross considers the logistics:

The marathon can?’t work without a fully functioning transit system. On no day in New York is the underground transportation system more vital. Several bridges are essentially closed for the day—the Verrazano-Narrows, the 59th Street Bridge, the Willis Avenue Bridge, and the Madison Avenue Bridge. In many areas of the city, it is impossible to get across certain streets above ground. And the street closures and huge concentrations of people in Manhattan have huge ripple effects. With the region?’s train and subway systems not yet completely operational, getting around will be very difficult for everybody, from? marathon runners and spectators to New Yorkers who have no interest in the race.

A reader writes:

I was happy to see you finally feature Staten Island on your blog. I have a good friend who lives out there and she says the devastation is unbelievable.  She just about started crying when she found out that policemen were getting sent to supervise the marathon, while her own neighborhood is experiencing looting and with no one out patrolling the streets and with people from the area still missing. 

Continue Reading...

James Kwak makes the case for it from a cost perspective:

There’s a strong case to be made that hurricane research is one area where a small amount of taxpayer spending has had huge public benefits. That argument is made by Jeff Masters of Weather Underground … [A]s I discussed in a previous post, it is highly likely that more accurate forecasts have saved tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary evacuations for each large hurricane. 

At least one environmental organization is trying to make sure Sandy has an effect on the race – here is the new ad that is running in Ohio and Virginia:

Ari Berman reports on another way Sandy could affect people's votes :

[While the states hit by Sandy should have their power mostly restored by Tuesday, many] will still experience the potential for serious problems, either on Election Day or the days proceeding (early voting has already begun in a number of states affected by the storm). Problems could include: electronic voting machines without power and a shortage of backup paper ballots; polling places without power, damaged or moved; voters unable to reach their polling place or unable to mail in an absentee ballot by the deadline; election administration unprepared to deal with a multitude of new, unforeseen complications.

Check the Google Crisis Map to see which states still have power outages. Previous coverage on whether Sandy should affect people's votes here, and how the storm might split the electoral college and popular votes here.


Turns out that iconic photo from Hurricane Sandy was also a View From Your Window. A reader writes:

I took the photo of Jane's Carousel you wrote about. (My girlfriend posted it to Instagram.) I've read the Dish from the early days and actually sent you a couple photos for View From Your Window. This was the view from my window that night. Here's what I wrote about the photo. I've attached the original in case you want to run it. I have some others from that night too.

One of them is seen above. Our reader Brian Morrissey, whose name we got permission to run, writes in his piece:

I took the photo at 8:30, near the height of the storm.

Continue Reading...

The Marathon Must Go On?

Nov 2 2012 @ 11:27am


Eliza Shapiro reports on the backlash to the NYC marathon. The NY Post thinks it should have been cancelled:

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers huddle in the dark each night after the most devastating storm in city history — while two massive generators chug away in Central Park and a third sits idle waiting to power a media center during Sunday’s NYC Marathon. Like hell. Those generators could power 400 homes on Staten Island or the Rockaways or any storm-wracked neighborhood in the city certain to be suffering the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy on Sunday morning. Shouldn’t they come first?

Joyner weighs in:

[A]t a time when it takes heroic measures for people in the outer boroughs to get into the city to work, why would you allow tens of thousands of outsiders to come in to run a race? At a time when huge numbers of locals are displaced from their homes and forced to live in hotels, why would you turn them away to accommodate out-of-towners engaging in recreation?

Running On Empty

Nov 2 2012 @ 10:50am


Caitlin Dickson reports on the gasoline shortages in NYC and surrounding areas:

[Gas station manager Anan] noted that his company’s other stations in places like Staten Island are suffering from a different problem: they have gas but no power. The blackout across New York City and New Jersey is partially to blame for the gas shortage. The executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association explained that a lack of power is keeping much of the gasoline stored along the New Jersey Turnpike from being distributed to stations. “They can’t get that gasoline into the delivery trucks without power,” he told CNBC.

(Photo: A man fills up jerry cans with gasoline as others wait in line on November 1, 2012 in Hazlet township, New Jersey. United States. By Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Instant Ruin Porn, Ctd

Nov 2 2012 @ 9:55am

Mary Elizabeth Williams can relate to the risks taken by amateur disaster-photogs:

In the midst of a crisis, there’s a deep human need to share our stories. We want to see, we want to show. I’ve gasped at the already iconic images from the storm, and been amazed and saddened and relieved by the pictures my friends have posted on their Facebook pages of the scenes from their home fronts. I participated in it too.

I believe – and I still do – in the power of documenting experience. And yes, that includes the ubiquitous jazzed-up Instagram of a flower or a dog or some clouds. I also believe in not being an idiot, and know that possessing an app does not give one invincibility. We have become a world full of self-styled photojournalists and storm chasers and the truth is that most of us are woefully underqualified as both.

She adds, "As a police officer standing outside the park ruefully told me this morning, "Common sense isn’t so common." At least one of the New Yorkers killed by Sandy was in the process of taking photos.

New York’s Poor Weather Friend

Nov 2 2012 @ 8:58am

There was a line to use the pay phone on St. Marks yesterday, and a homeless guy was charging $2 for $1 in change. #Entrepreneur #Sandy In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Ben Cohen notes the sudden importance of pay phones: On most days, New Yorkers breeze past corner pay phones with nary a glance. The devices are so foreign to many that the city’s official website has a question-and-answer section about pay phones in New York: Does anyone actually use them? “Even though the usage has gone way down,” it says, “the public pay telephones are still used for regular calls and long distance calls.” The last time Leslie Koch picked up a pay-phone receiver was during the 2003 blackout. Since then, she says, “I didn’t even know they were working.” But on Tuesday, old was new again, as her BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad and two laptops were idled. After calling her mother on Long Island from a pay phone, she commemorated the occasion by tweeting a photo of herself from Instagram [seen above]. But it’s not a perfect reunion: With no electronic contacts at hand, [Oscar] Guzman, 34, had written down the phone numbers he needed on index cards. “It’s a nightmare,” he said. “The audio is awful.” Jason Gilbert adds: This is just months after New York announced a pilot program to convert several pay phones around in the city into free WiFi hotspots.

Continue Reading...

The Little Carousel That Could

Nov 1 2012 @ 7:45pm


John Seabrook explains the significance of the above image:

Few pictures of Hurricane Sandy captured both the enormity of the disaster and the unquenchable spirit buried deep in the city’s core better than the image of Jane’s Carousel, the glass-enclosed merry-go-round on the waterfront near the Brooklyn Bridge, taken at the height of the storm. The photo shows the dark water lapping at the horses’ hooves, with the eerie blacked-out lower-Manhattan skyline in the background, and the festive riderless ponies twinkling merrily in the bright yellow light. Originally posted on Instagram and picked up by CNN, the picture was seen all around the world; at one point that night it was at the top of Twitter’s trends. 

See a wider shot here. Matthew DeLuca dives into the carousel's history:

Continue Reading...

Jonathan Bernstein praises the way Bloomberg used his Obama endorsement:

By linking his endorsement to a specific issue — climate — he does two things. First, he gives a pretty effective issue advertisement on the subject; Bloomberg would likely be able to get the cameras on him at any rate right now, but doing it in the context of a presidential endorsement is more effective than simply repeating what he's said in the past on the issue. Second, he's essentially lobbying the president on this issue.

Continue Reading...