I'm finding the post-Superstorm-Sandy angst more and more irritating. Here are some samples of news reports from just one source (click each headline for more information).
Feeling Forgotten After The Storm
In Staten Island, Yonkers and Bridgeport, Conn. officials lashed out at power companies for responses they called slow and inadequate. And in Coney Island, residents roamed the streets, looking for help and wondering if they had been forgotten.
As millions remained without power for the fourth straight day, tempers began to fray. A growing number of neighborhoods expressed fears that somehow in the massive recovery effort, they had been left behind—even as their supplies dwindled and temperatures dropped.
I'm sorry, but this is ridiculous! With over 60 million people affected by this storm, which subsided less than four days ago, how the hell do officials expect power companies to respond any faster? The USAF is flying in power trucks and personnel from as far away as California to help out. It's not that they're not doing enough - it's that they can't possibly do more! The same goes for other forms of assistance. The government doesn't exist to look after you at all times. If you want more of that, try joining the military, or going to jail. You get three hots and a cot, most of the time - but not always, and only in exchange for a significant loss of personal liberty. The latter is the price you pay for the former.
It's going to take weeks, possibly months, to deal with all the damage left by the storm. Come on, New Yorkers - suck it up, live with it, and get on with what you can do right now to help yourselves. As President Theodore Roosevelt (himself a New Yorker) famously urged, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are". I don't think he'd be impressed if he could see you now.
A Grim Fear Engulfs Areas Lacking Light
With floodlights, police patrols and power outlets, authorities in and around New York sought to deter looters and calm nerves in swaths of the region where the lights remained off.
In many places, they succeeded, catching would-be looters and reassuring residents. In others, they failed.
At least 41 people have been arrested in Brooklyn and Queens on looting charges, police said. Some were caught taking food, while others are accused of stealing items such as alcohol and electronics.
. . .
Still, fear and rumors swirled in darkened neighborhoods, including lower Manhattan. Residents worried about thieves posing as officials to get into apartments complexes. Lawmakers voiced concern about those preying on vulnerable, disaster-stricken homeowners.
Too bad, New Yorkers. You've permitted your city government to restrict your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for decades - in fact, for over a century. This is the result. Your criminals have guns, because they don't care about obeying the law in the first place! If they're prepared to break laws against theft, assault, drug-dealing, murder, etc., what makes you think they'll obey those prohibiting them from possessing firearms? All you've done by accepting such laws is to disarm yourselves, the law-abiding citizens of the city - and that makes you prey for the (armed) predators among you.
Even owning (let alone carrying) a handgun in New York City involves jumping through so many bureaucratic hoops that it's effectively impossible unless you know (and/or bribe) 'the right people'. For those who conquer the somewhat lesser bureaucratic obstacles to owning a long gun (i.e. a rifle or shotgun), they at least have available an effective means of home defense (although they're not allowed to carry it with them outside their homes, or in their vehicles). However, if they use it, even in legitimate self-defense, they're very likely to be arrested and charged with a crime, because the New York City prosecutorial system is set up to presume that a shooter is, by default, a criminal. Only those in NYPD uniform are given the benefit of the doubt.
I wouldn't live under a system like that if you paid me . . . but if you've chosen to do so, the consequences are on your own head. This outbreak of crime is one of them.
Scramble for Cash In Sandy's Wake
Banks hustled to make cash available as persistent power outages in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania from superstorm Sandy kept hundreds of ATMs offline just as the same woes left many businesses demanding cash payments.
. . .
In some areas, it was hard for banks to keep up, as people seemed to be withdrawing more cash than usual.
A Chase ATM housed in a Duane Reade pharmacy in Brooklyn, N.Y., ran out of cash at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to store manager Elizabeth Almonte, who described the lines for the machine since the storm as "insane."
On a typical day, she said, there are generally about four people waiting in line for the ATM. Sunday, she said, lines snaked across the pharmacy and out the doors. She said Chase had said it would put more money in the ATM on Monday but by midday Thursday she hadn't heard from the bank. Customers "understood but were annoyed," she said.
. . .
The demands for cash post-Sandy have come from customers who have fewer withdrawal options thanks to power outages and storm damage, and businesses that are accepting cash only due to communications woes that leave them unable to accept credit and debit cards.
We experienced the same thing after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. I warned then (and ever since), and many others have warned, of the need to keep a 'nest egg' of cash on hand, available for emergencies like this . . . but too many people either didn't or wouldn't listen. The result is financial gridlock as everyone discovers at the same time that their bank and credit cards won't work without power, and that banks are unwilling to cash checks if they can't electronically verify that the balance in your account is sufficient to cover the sum you want.
The same goes for keeping basic emergency supplies at home. Those who've been following my series of articles on emergency preparation (see the list in the sidebar) know that I'm not a manic doomsday prepper. I've written all of them as encouragement to keep on hand a basic, thirty-day stock of essential supplies, including cash for emergencies, food, a means to prepare it, fuel for cooking and your car(s) (and a generator if you have one), medication, etc. If you've achieved that level of preparedness, or close to it, you'd most likely be sitting pretty right now in almost any of the areas affected by Sandy. Unless your home had been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable (which has happened to less than one per cent of the buildings affected), you'd have food, light, and all the essentials you need. It's pretty clear that by the time your supplies ran out, most of the essential services would have been restored.
I suppose the most frustrating thing for me is to read all the appeals for 'the government' - be it federal, state or local - to 'do something'. They are doing something - they're doing everything possible - but that's simply not enough to cover all sixty-million-odd victims affected by the storm. If our various governments and their agencies had stockpiled sufficient supplies, and hired and trained enough workers, to cater for every need in a situation like this, they'd have absorbed most of our economy, leaving nothing over to live on! As President Gerald Ford put it, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have". I will not live under such a government. Neither, I trust, will anyone who has any love for liberty, personal responsibility and human and constitutional rights.
If people have been so deaf to entreaty and blind to reality that they've ignored suggestions about emergency preparation from government agencies (federal, state and local), and from people like me who've been through disasters of one sort or another, they're just going to have to suck it up and live with it. I'm not going to waste any sympathy on them unless they were too poor to afford any preparations at all - and there are vanishingly few such people in the USA today. Even most of the homeless are better prepared than that! Just visit one of their camps, and you'll see what I mean.
Finally, more details are beginning to emerge of just how big a job it's going to be to reopen New York's subway trains and road tunnels. Much will have to wait for the restoration of power and the availability of rail cars to replace those damaged by Sandy. The armed forces are actively involved in pumping out the tunnels - Wired has a good article illustrating what's involved. Reading the details in both articles, I doubt whether full service will be restored before next month - possibly some individual tunnels and stations will be out of action for much longer than that.
If you're one of those still suffering from Sandy's after-effects, I hope you're better prepared, and coping better, than most of those reported in the news articles cited above. Please let us know in Comments how you're doing, and share with us any important lessons you may have learned from this experience.