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Surviving Sandy

Survivor stories and lessons in the path of Sandy. We’ll listen.

People, some waving to those on dry ground, are rescued by boat in Little Ferry, N.J. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP)

People, some waving to those on dry ground, are rescued by boat in Little Ferry, N.J. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP)

One week ago, it was a big patch of red on the TV weather maps, way down in the Caribbean.  A hurricane called Sandy.  That got bigger and bigger and bigger.  And slammed the East coast with historic scale.

Mile after mile of storied ocean front, a tangled wreck.  Subways, tunnels, drowned in Manhattan.  Wall Street, washed out.  New Yorkers stranded in dark sky scrapers.  Epic gas lines.  Epic bus lines.  Climate questions and a terrible sense of fragility.  That we can’t handle this too often.

This hour, On Point: survivor stories and lessons learned from Sandy.

-Tom Ashbrook


Ellis Henican, columnist for Newsday.

Jim Axelrod, national correspondent for CBS News.

Amy Nutt, staff writer for the New Jersey Star Ledger.

Kate Zernike, reporter for the New York Times.

From Tom’s Reading List

CBS News “In New York City, a college student went out to take pictures in the borough of Queens and was electrocuted by a downed power line, while across town on Staten Island, an off-duty policeman drowned after moving his family to safety.”

Star Ledger “Across the state, long lines of frustrated motorists snaked for blocks leading to the few gas stations open for business, while tempers flared. Millions more found themselves without power — or heat in their homes — for yet another day, with no expectations of getting it back anytime soon.”

New York Post “The family has been forced to rely on the kindness of friends, squeezing into the house of Declan and Maria Walsh, their kids Betty, 17, and Seamus, 15, and a snobby Weimaraner named Casper. Along with another roommate, a 15-year-old boy evacuated from Manhattan, the human population of the crowded Walsh residence has climbed to nine. There are even more bodies”

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  • Gregg Smith

     “We leave nobody behind,” Obama says to the gathered volunteers. “We make sure that we respond as a nation, and remind ourselves that whenever an American is in need, all of us stand together to make sure that we’re providing the help that’s necessary.”
    Yea, right.

    • larsrisd

      Please Gregg. Storms (“Acts of God”) are wildcards. All we can do is prepare and recover. No one can respond perfectly do a situation that is entirely beyond our control. 
      If people uniformly prepared, filled their cars and gas cans with fuel prior to the storm, followed evacuation recommendations, and we knew exactly how strong the storm was going to be, things might have been better. 
      If you want to turn this partisan, let’s talk about Bush and Katrina

      …or maybe let’s not and assume that the majority of people are doing the best they can to get this situation dealt with.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF
        • http://twitter.com/odin_mary mary

          i have lived in new orleans for over 30 yr.  we lost eveything.  just cemment step left plus 5′ of mud and about the same in marsh grass.  it took us 4yrs to rebuild primarily because of grant money given to the state and not banks.  home owner’s covered nothing we did get money from FEMA. we had no electricity gor six months and our generator ran on gas. i know what the individual is experience in the nyc area but i bet they will recover before n.o. because we still have signs of Katrina all around us that the gov’t has chosen to ignore

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    Don’t worry.  The bankrupt National Flood Insurance Program will come to the rescue to rebuild multi-million dollar homes built too close to the ocean (“the view is wonderful!”).  What private insurance realizes is too risky to take on as a business opportunity, the fiscally irresponsible and out of touch federal government welcomes.  Just one more example of an out of control government program run amok.  

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Uh, that’s been changed.

      And I await your thundering about how a law limits the liability of a nuke plant (like, say, in coastal CT) to make that “feasible” for “private industry” to “insure”.

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        I have a hard time believing that financials of the flood insurance program have changed.  It sounds like the person who responded to my comment a few months ago who asserted that the postal system isn’t bankrupt (yea, right).

        I don’t support limiting the liability of a nuclear plant.  The prospective owner/operator should bear all risk associated with the plant.  And if the risk is too great such that the company doesn’t want to take on the risk, then the nuclear plant shouldn’t be built.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          I’d put up references, but like Canute and the tide, I know when to not waste my breath.

          The postal system, unlike every other entity in this country, has been legally mandated to fund its retirees’  HC obligations for some seventy years out.

          That is by design, to make suckers like you think it’s “bankrupt”.

          At some point we’re gonna have to stop taking your word on what you “believe”.

          And any day you have the solution to stopping limiting the liability of a nuke plant, come back and enlighten us. And explain what’s equitable to other energy sectors after decades and billions of dollars have been poured into subsidizing nuke plants and the extractive energy sector.

  • SomMom

    My thoughts go out to everyone hard hit by Sandy. We were lucky to have our family, strewn along the East Coast, be spared this time.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      We’re inland and up a bit. Most all the trees that Sandy would have ruined in our town were taken out by Irene and Alfred last year. Phew.

  • OnpointListener

    FEMA, the Red Cross, and other agencies suggest that all inhabitants of the US maintain a good supply of bottled water, non-perishable foods, necessary prescription drugs, radios, batteries, blankets, etc.

    If everyone with the ability to do so had followed this advice, there would be far fewer people in distress and the first responders would be more free to rescue those most vulnerable.

    • JGC

      And don’t forget about your pets.

  • AC

    i’m very concerned about the people and their properties in areas where the water is not receding; next week is supposed to bring freezing temperatures. everyone knows water expands when it freezes; all those home are in serious structural danger…..
    did Chris Christie support any dam bills in his state? how was he about infrastructure? NE DOTs have been meeting for the past year, knowing how damaging and expensive storm water is about to become in the next few years…

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Is it a hard freeze?

      I think they may get off easy, being coastal, where the freezing is less even than it is 30 miles inland. Almost that if there’s enough water to do freezing damage by next week, the surge and resulting standing water, over the course of several days, may enough to do serious damage to these structures beforehand.

      (Just idly thinking. Any civil engineers to geek us out are welcome.)

      • AC

        from what i understood, some of it is from a dam fail, and much of it is a briny mix – may take a while, but we’re fast approaching a cold winter and sea water can and does freeze where current is weak…still, all those wooden porches, they’re going to buckle…i wonder what will happen to the cars?!! i had my first revetment wall design coming up, but i’m told the project has washed away…..dont know when the town will want it back on line, but it seems the project is going to increse in scale now, esp. when FEMA puts in more money, the original project was already being funded by them because the area also took a beating during last year’s hurrican. So, tho i’ll be slower than i expected for the next couple months, i think i’m going to be too busy to enjoy the show after that!

  • Thinkin5

    Staten Island should have been forced to evacuate. Every storm there are people who just won’t leave the areas predicted to be hit hardest. In the future a place for them to evacuate to and a way out should be mandatory. I lost power here in MA for about 14 hrs. I was prepared for it. I saw the workmen out in that terrible weather risking their lives and injury to get my power back on. The winds were much too high to put a man in a bucket crane up to repair the wires. Later in the wee hours of the morning they did fix it.

  • LMosrie

    For the life of me I can’t understand why people did not evacuate as they were told. My heart bleeds for everyone on Staten Island….but I think “island” is the operative word. If you choose to live on a island, you have to have some kind of plan for big storms.

  • IanRRRR


  • IanRRRR


  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QMDZ3LH5U2B4GAT7J2HS4TCP6E Jim

    two words for conservative naysayers and deniers:

    wake up.

    • harverdphd

       Not till the Chinese and Indians do…conversation over

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    On taped call with person trying to call 911 because they don’t know what to do – when the disaster is happening, it’s too late to figure out what to do. They need to push citizens harder to plan ahead for the possible emergencies that might occur in their area.

    Lots of people complain about people dependent on government and entitlements – but they turn right and think it’s not their responsibility to take care of themselves during an emergency, it’s the government’s.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Tangent about “It’s a little to late to do the right thing now”:

      This is a conversation I heard related by a governor, with a septugenarian, after the worst was over (paraphrased).

      RESIDENT: Your warnings and instructions were very no-nonsense and clear, Governor. Thank you.
      GOV: So why didn’t you evacuate (from your coastal town, under orders)?
      RESIDENT: I’ve been living in this house for fifty years and nothing’s got to me yet!

      • Thinkin5

         And now it’s “yet”! Time for a new plan.

  • Burrone

    Is it too much to ask that we citizens provide for disasters in advance. The Mormans keep 2 years of food and water. Now, this is excepting the old and the infirm-they may be unable to do this and need help from others.
    In advance fill up your car’s gas tank, always have stored water water, keep dry foods that have shelf life of years. This is not hard. Do not expect the government to save your life.

  • larsrisd

    We need to find a way to get these people out of these areas that are going to get hit more and more by megastorms. It’s an ugly decision, but realistically people need to stop building in the coastal bullseye, and the government needs to stop subsidizing insurance in these areas…at taxpayer expense. We hear people talking about rebuilding, but maybe it’s time to take your insurance check, take advantage of low rates and homes on the market and buy on high ground.

  • Ray in VT

    Because Vermont got off so relatively lightly, Governor Shumlin was anticipating Vermont utility companies being able to release many crews here in the state in order to help others.

  • ttajtt

    if the volcano in yellow stone went?   creator lake then…  where will  we all move to? jobs, desk top, right time to build a brick wall, but i would be out of the food needed. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      The population density in that area is comparatively nil. Infrastructure, industry, etc. are sparse, and tied heavily to National Park anyway.

      (Just one more reason for the Bobby Jindals of the world to slag on the govt for their seismic montoring stations, amirite?)

      I’ve been in West Yellowstone, which is on a highway and people can flee up to Bozeman. But in all I don’t see much of a comparison.

    • larsrisd

      Well…The last eruption in yellowstone was over 600,000 years ago. I’d imagine the next devastating storm to hit the area that Sandy hit will hit well within that time frame. No area’s 100% safe from one disaster or another, but there are areas where you’re much more exposed to risk on a regular basis. Low-lying coastal areas are clearly getting pretty high on that list.

      I don’t mean to sound insensitive to the people who live in those areas. I live right where Irene hit last year, and we lost power for 30 hours during Sandy. We cope as best we can, and try to prepare for extended loss of power, but the reality is that if a category 3-5 hurricane hit us directly, we’d probably be in trouble we’re not able to handle. You can only build so well in the face of a clearly pretty irritated climate. At some point you have to think that the location you’ve chosen to put your house may no longer be as safe as it was twenty years ago.

      You can check your location at http://flood.firetree.net/

      • ttajtt

        the hot air blast  with ash fall out who’ll know what season it’ll be.    skinny people will jerky, fat people will fry.  whole west coast shake in which way the wind blows.

  • hallidayc

    I was in Ocean City, NJ during Hurricane Sandy and was touched by the community coming together after the storm. We woke up to a lot of water and devastation but there were also a lot of neighbors eager to help. Ocean City is the type of place where everyone knows everyone and greats you with a smile and a wave. My family woke up with the sickening feeling that it would never be the same and then came to the realization that I we can work hard help our neighbors and bring it back stronger. There will be a lot of life long bonds created out of this hardship and I know the good people of Ocean City will be ok.

  • JGC

    About 25 years ago our extended family was vacationing on the Outer Banks when a hurricane threatened.  My father and brother immediately began to hatch an evacuation plan:  for the family car. My brother had a rental car, so the two of them drove the two cars inland, dropping off Dad’s precious Delta 88 on safe ground, then returned together in the rental to the rest of us waiting in the beachfront house.  As the storm rolled in, my mom looked at my dad and said dryly, “OK, George, you’ve saved the car. What about the women and children?”

  • GiselaVoss

    I called because I wanted everyone to know what had honestly not been on my radar before…that many disabled and elderly could not evacuate even if they wanted to, and that there was no way that Nick and Alejandra were the only ones stuck up high in skyscrapers needing help. How does someone on a ventilator or a 92 year old with a walker get down 12+ flights of stairs to “evacuate” ?http://littlefreeradical.com/2012/10/31/unconventional-aid-helping-nick-dupree-social-networking-style/

    The city that doesn’t sleep. SLEPT. Here is a photo of our drive to deliver batteries. 

  • Pingback: UnconVENTional Aid: Helping Nick Dupree – Part II | Little Free Radical

  • Steve__T

    The number of post here show a sad disconnect to people in dire need of help. The devastation to the entire area  is almost unimaginable. The response from the Red Cross, FEMA and local response groups is negligible. The only people helping are the organizers of occupy wall street  in an heroic effort to help those in need. This is a sad situation when people will post that what they should have had and what they should have done, when you really don’t understand the true devastation and disaster that has befallen them. I urge you to look at this and tell me what would you have done.



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