The Neverending Story
The press cameras started clicking when the chug of the motorcycle became louder and louder, nearing the room’s front entrance. Paul Teutul Jr., the mustachioed and baseball-hatted owner of biker merchandise company Paul Jr. Designs, revved and wobbled his motorcycle through the door up to the speech podium on the first floor of 90 West Street, a dowdy Financial District building not far from the Battery.
Mr. Teutul was soon joined by Governor Andrew Cuomo, World Trade Center contractor Dan Tishman and 9/11 Memorial president Joe Daniels. They all praised the return of the bike to its place in the 9/11 Memorial Visitor Center, which had come under four feet of water one month ago during Hurricane Sandy and had been the chopper’s home since October of last year.
As New York continues to grapple with closed subway stations and an overcrowded shelter system following Hurricane Sandy’s late October destruction, the City is looking for a little help from its friends in Washington. Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent a letter to members of New York’s Congressional delegation today, estimating the damage caused by late October’s superstorm at $19 billion in public and private losses.
Affordable Housing or Lack Thereof
The winds of Hurricane Sandy caused massive damage to the New York area when it made landfall at the end of October. But the gusts of the superstorm blew more than just debris, dislodging New Yorkers from their homes and into a constellation of already full shelters. Yet in spite of the issue of overcrowding both before or after the storm, there may actually be large amounts of space to house people in the city.
Hoping to capitalize on the renewed awareness of homelessness and the dire situation in the city’s shelters, advocacy group Picture the Homelesss and a number of its allies held a rally Friday morning in Harlem to draw new attention to its regular reports on vacant properties in the city. Picture the Homeless has long argued that landlords across the city have left properties vacant while they wait for property values and rents to rise. The practice, known as warehousing, is legal, but it robs the city of precious living space at the same time.
“If you were able to pull out the money for Sandy, you were able to pull out the money before Sandy,” Raul Rodriguez, an organizer with Picture the Homeless, declared, criticizing the city’s failure to capitalize on rundown properties.
While some employees may have off for today’s Veteran’s Day holiday, others have become veterans of the post-Sandy recovery effort.
Along with the traditional New York City school closings, several of the City’s offices were closed on Monday, such as the Department of City Planning and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, as might be expected on a federal holiday. But for offices dealing with the ongoing recovery effort from Hurricane Sandy, the holiday was just another day of trying to restore power, heat, and hot water to those still without it, another day to clean up and safeguard New Yorkers ravaged by the storm.
The Office of Emergency Management has been functioning nonstop since before Sandy made landfall two weeks ago, and that goes for today, too. “It’s 24 hour shifts around the clock no matter what day it is,” OEM spokeswoman Nancy Greco said. The New York City Housing Authority said in a statement that recovery efforts “are moving forward without regard to the holiday. NYCHA has maintained sufficient frontline staff and contractors to continue recovery efforts without interruption.”
It will happen again. That much should be clear. Forget all the political rhetoric about the causes of climate change and global warming. Leaders in the public and private sectors understand now that they can no longer ignore changing weather patterns or simply assume that the New York region will somehow remain immune from natural disasters.
Sandy surely was an exceptionally powerful storm. But who would claim that it simply was a freak of nature? Who would contend that New York and New Jersey need only to clean up and move on?
Sandy must become a call to action. New York harbor, it is clear, will no longer serve as protection against 21st-century weather patterns. New York’s infrastructure has been exposed for what it is—one of the great wonders of the 20th century.
According to a volunteer helping to distribute resources to victims of Hurricane Sandy last Friday, Drita D’Avanzo of VH1′s reality show Mob Wives, and her camera crew made a surprise appearance at a place where volunteers were distributing supplies to victims of Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island. According to a volunteer with the relief effort who spoke to The Observer, her arrival was “not well received.”
“So she walked up and volunteers thought it was another news crew filming people helping out. ” the volunteer said, providing a photo of the occasion. “But then a boom mike lurked over our heads. Notice in the picture everyone turning their backs on her and walking away. She was not well received and was able to clear a hot coffee stand on a cold day in 2 seconds.”
At a press conference at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan this morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota announced most subway service in New York City will be returned by the end of the day. Notably for some commuters from Queens and Brooklyn, trains will now be traveling into Manhattan for the first time since before Hurricane Sandy struck last week.
“In literally under one week, 80% of the subway service has been restored from what was horrendous damage, and the worst damage the subway system had ever seen,” Mr. Cuomo said. “So that is just a great, great job. The service between Brooklyn and Queens and Manhattan is being restored immediately. The 4, 5, 6 and 7 trains will immediately begin to run. The F, J, D [and] M will run later this afternoon. The Staten Island Railway will have limited service beginning later today.”
Economic costs related to Hurricane Sandy could top $18 billion in New York State, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said today in a statement. Those costs include the disruption of business and loss of property and wealth, though estimates remain in flux due to the continued power outages, especially in lower Manhattan.
“Our daily infrastructure of highways, power, sewer and water—the elements of modern life that we take for granted—have all been altered by this storm,” Mr. DiNapoli said in the statement. “Though the rebuilding effort may offset some of these losses, we must continue to monitor what the long-term economic impact to New York will be.”
The catastrophe modeling firm Eqecat is estimating total U.S. economic costs from Hurricane Sandy at between $30 to $50 billion.
Some other highlights from Mr. DiNapoli’s report:
Estimates for the total economic costs of Hurricane Sandy have risen to $30 to $50 billion from $10 to $20 billion, catastrophe modeling firm Eqecat said this morning in a release.
The new estimates, which were calculated after the storm landed on Monday, derive from larger-than-expected utility and electrical losses, which in turn Read More
A Matter of Policy
Gov. Andrew Cuomo inserted himself into a potential tug-of-war between insurance companies and policy holders yesterday, declaring that insurers should not trigger hurricane deductibles for damages incurred during the storm that rocked New York this week.
If invoked, hurricane deductibles would prove costly for New York’s homeowners, with the deductibles typically ranging from 1 to Read More