As you have probably heard or seen on the news, Hurricane Sandy, also known as “Frankenstorm," has just hit the East Coast—and has left a devastating toll. This Category 1 storm was on a collision course with two other weather systems, which ultimately culminated into a “superstorm” with the potential for havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes. Floods, fires, power outages, and downed trees have affected millions of residents in the Northeast—nearly 6 million people lost power on Monday. Unforunately, I am one of the 923,000 people on Long Island who lost power throughout this debacle.
The impact of Hurricane Sandy in my neighborhood was the worst last night, at around 8 p.m. Gusts of wind lifted up the chairs on my deck, blew away two brooms, and unlatched the gate by the steps leading to my backyard. Every so often, I heard “booms” from down the block, which were probably related to power surges. One of the trees in my neighbor’s backyard caught on fire, too, presumably from some form of electrical explosion. Most of my friends have lost power, and have resorted to going to public places to charge their electronic devices, going to friends’ houses that still have power, or even to implementing portable generators connected to their homes.
The disastrous effects of Hurricane Sandy are eerily visible throughout my town; as I drove through my neighborhood earlier today, I saw quite a number of huge fallen trees—3 that collapsed on cars (and totaled them), 4 that struck down electricity wires, 3 that fell on someone’s front lawn, 6 that physically pulled up the cement sidewalk, and 2 that that crashed into peoples’ living rooms. Hurricane Sandy has also had devastating effects in other areas of the region as well—like Ocean City, NJ, where my aunt lives; her house was flooded with over 3 feet of water yesterday.
The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards this past weekend, preventing thousands of commuters from going to work in Manhattan due to the predicted destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. Yesterday, I watched in awe as news reporters broadcast live from the Battery in New York, Atlantic City, NJ, and the Delaware coast. Hurricane Sandy had indeed lived up to the hype. The water level at the Battery reached at least 13 feet, Sandy Hook, NJ reported 13.3 feet, and Kings Point, NY reported 13.3 feet. Seven subway tunnels in the East River and the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, as well as the Queens Midtown Tunnel were flooded. Six bus garages were also disabled by high levels of water. Roughly a quarter million customers lost power in Manhattan after a fiery Con Edison transformer explosion on East 14th Street, leaving nearly the entire island uncannily dark south of 34th Street.
Mass transit, schools, and financial markets have remained closed across most of the Northeast. All the schools on Long Island, including my school district, have been closed since Monday and will be closed tomorrow as well. Our safety on the roads is currently at high risk, for many traffic lights are not functioning due to the lack of electricity. In my town, one faces the danger of getting into a car accident just to go to the local Waldbaum’s, for the traffic lights on several of the main roads are defunct. If possible, you should avoid driving on the roads as much as possible; your safety is crucial.
Lastly, if your power has gone out, here are some essential tips, which will be useful until your electricity is restored (hopefully, soon):
- In order to prevent damaging electrical overload when power is restored, pull the plug on motor-driven appliances, like refrigerators, computers, and televisions.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed.
- Be extremely cautious when using alternative heating or cooking sources. Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat the house, for this poses the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you are using a portable generator, be sure to plug appliances into the generator, rather than connection the generator directly to your home’s electrical system---this can send power up the line and kill a utility repairman working on the power lines. Generators also produce deadly carbon monoxide.