Bill Stafford | Columnist | 12-04-2012
The eyes of many Americans were glued to the television Oct. 22 due to the fourth and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, but just south of Jamaica a low pressure system was developing into something that would steer our attention away from politics to the safety of thousands by Halloween.
As news came in post-debate and in the following days about the potential severity of the storm, schools were closed in Florida, and, after the weekend, North Carolina to Washington D.C. had declared states of emergency in a number of counties. By this time the storm had officially been deemed a hurricane and had made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica. By the end of the week, most of the New England area was on high alert, and the now aptly named “Frankenstorm” hit American soil near Atlantic City, N.J.
At its worst, Superstorm Sandy recorded wind speeds upward of 110 mph and was estimated at causing upward of $50 billion in damage, second only to Hurricane Katrina, leaving at its peak over 8.5 million homes and businesses without power and claiming nearly 200 lives.
For a comparison of the storms size, if it had been proclaimed a country, the storm would have come in at the 20th largest in the world, a size nearly double that of the state of Texas. New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been quoted saying that this storm was one of “unprecedented proportions” and that it was “maybe the worst” that NYC had ever seen.
But as we’ve seen from natural disasters and others in the past, America is not one to be thwarted from excelling in situations of adversity as President Barack Obama pointed out in a statement before the storm hit the North East. “The great thing about America is when we go through tough times like this we all pull together. We look out for our friends. We look out for our neighbors.”
The American Red Cross has done just that, reporting that over 8,800 workers were sent to the East Coast in an effort to help those affected by the storm and that 5.8 million meals and snacks were served to those without food. Large businesses and corporations also donated millions to the relief effort, including companies such as Apple, J.P. Morgan, Disney, Viacom, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Wells Fargo, Toyota and many others.
The recovery is slow, but from the immense amount of contributions of time and resources from volunteers and others, the cities affected by the storm have become more operational by the day.