Thursday, 1 November 2012

Hurricane Sandy: News from the Hudson

I have been following the situation with a friend from my UN New York days.  Their village (on the Eastern side of the Hudson) is largely without power but she is sort-of-happy that no-one was killed or injured.  She also sent on a message to residents from their Mayor.  I think it is an excellent bit of communication as well as providing a summary of their situation so reproduce it below (slightly edited for privacy).

Fellow Residents -
The morning is upon us, and the parameters of the storm aftermath are clearer now.  Con Edison reports this as their biggest outage in history, with more than 600,000 residences out. At least 7 million people are without power in the metro and NJ region. The devastation is broad and significant.
In our village, the following is known:
*  No one was injured or killed, though several have had to be evacuated from damaged homes.
*  It is still dangerous out. ALL DOWNED LINES SHOULD BE ASSUMED POWERED AND IMMEDIATELY LETHAL IF TOUCHED. And you don't need to touch a line to be killed: puddles, car bodies, fences and anything else that conducts electricity will do you in.  If you MUST be out with children or pets, respect the yellow tape and steer clear of anything hanging. Trees can still come down in the remaining gusts, and as the ground gets wetter, are LIKELY to.  It is not yet time to let the kids go wandering.
*  Two-thirds of the Village is without power.  Two Con Edison crews are already here - which is excellent news - but do not expect repowering any time soon. Think "days". There are countless downed lines and areas have to be depowered so that trees can be removed.
*  Fifteen homes suffered strikes by falling trees or limbs, including four that suffered major structural damage.
*  At least fourteen streets are closed due to downed limbs.  The hill area was exceptionally hit.
*  Water is safe to drink - no health advisory.
*  Please DO NOT call the police with an expectation for updates on power, etc. They don't know and they have plenty of other things to worry about.
ONLY call with true emergencies.
*  A&P is closed and without power. Stores on Warburton are open and with power.
*  If you want to charge your phone, please feel free to drop them at the Municipal Building and we will accommodate as best we can.
*  We'll draw a judgement about Halloween later tonight - lets see what the state of the power lines are tonight.  Please set expectations accordingly and blame it on me.  Needless to say, if your teenaged charmers are considering misbehaving tomorrow night, our police force is run ragged and not in the best of humor for that sort of behavior. The holding cells are, in fact, powered AND empty.
We will attempt to ensure these emails are posted within an hour of issuance at the Community Center on the window facing out, on the bulletin board on the wall at the Municipal Building, and on the door of the library. I hope to issue one at noon and at 9PM for the next two days and then daily afterwards.  Please print these out and circulate with those who are entirely out of communications.
And this is the first of a series of deep thanks to our first responders. Your volunteer Fire Department was up and out all night at significant risk to themselves, as was many of the police and DPW.  We are fortunate to have the benefits of their excellent service and good will.
Remember: patience, a sense of humor and resiliency, and generosity.
We're through the worst and now, we dig out.
Sincerely,...Mayor
Another friend lives in Hoboken New Jersey on the Western shore of the Hudson.   They are also OK, but with no power and a flooded garage.  Here is what the NY Times has to say about the situation in that city:

In Hoboken, N.J., a city of 50,000 people across the Hudson River from Manhattan, local officials issued dire warnings about thousands of people stranded by flooding, and the National Guard began moving in on Wednesday morning to try to rescue them.
“Keep an eye out, go down to the lowest possible floor, but do not go outside,” the city said on its Facebook page. “Signal to get their attention.”
When the storm surge hit, the Hudson River breached its banks on the north as well as the south of the city. Water poured into the low ground on the west side. As of Wednesday morning, many streets in Hoboken were still under water.
 Observer Highway, the exit from the south end of town, was still impassable for most vehicles.
The ShopRite parking lot on Clinton Street was under water, as were many of the lower floors of recently developed luxury rental buildings.
Parking lots on the north end, where bus and taxi companies store their vehicles, had two or more feet of water, and some vehicles were bobbing. On several residential streets, parked cars were akimbo after being washed up on sidewalks during the storm.
Incidentally it behooves me to commend the NY Times for making all their storm coverage available outside the paywall.

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