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Superstorm Sandy has bittersweet silver lining

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 31st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The northeastern U.S. is trying to mop up after Superstorm Sandy wrought unprecedented damage in the northeast. Despite the troubled warnings of meteorologists, many residents of the region were still surprised to witness the devastation around them. Few could have predicted the power of the storm.

NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) - The most dramatic images of destruction come from flooding in Manhattan. Floodwaters didn't simply strike the low-lying districts along the Hudson, but also came well inland, flooding homes, subways, and sewers. Some districts remain flooded leaving residents mired in a combination of water, mud, and raw sewage.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told residents to, "Clean and disinfect everything that got wet."

Meanwhile, power outages continue to slow cleanup efforts as some 6 million residents remain stuck without power. 

Of course, the greatest tragedy of the disaster is the incredible loss of life that has resulted from the superstorm. So far, there are 108 deaths attributed to Sandy from Canada to Haiti. In some places, such as Haiti, where socioeconomic conditions exacerbate disasters, officials fear an outbreak of cholera or some other disease that could kill hundreds. 

In addition to 40 known deaths in the U.S., one Canadian woman was killed when she was struck by flying debris. 

Superstom Sandy was extremely powerful. More than a hurricane, Sandy combined with both a storm from the northwest and a cold front from the northeast to become one of the most powerful storms to strike the region in recorded history. 

Sandy even created 25 foot waves on the lakefront in Chicago, hundreds of miles away.

The remnants of the storm are now over Canada and will soon pass into the Atlantic where they will continue to wreak havoc on shipping and fishing there. 

Off the Carolina's coast, A full-scale replica of the HMS Bounty, a sailing ship that has been featured in several movies, was lost at sea. One crew member perished, and the ship's captain is missing. 

Transportation networks are in shambles. Subways remain flooded and rail lines above ground are damaged. Every major rail line between New Jersey and New York is reported damaged and will have to be fully repaired before trains can safely pass. The repairs could take days. 

Some flights have resumed from outlying airports, but flights from New York's LaGuardia Airport remain grounded at least until Thursday because of extensive damage. 

Looting has been reported in New York City, with police arresting thirteen people. However, such activity is minimal. Instead, most people are helping one another out and trying to work together to clean up messes. 

The New York Stock Exchange trading floor also opened today, with Mayor Bloomberg himself ringing the opening bell. In a historic turn, the trading floor was closed for two days, a contingency that has not occurred since 1888 when a late snowstorm buried the city. 

The cost of the storm is expected to run into the tens of billions of dollars. Many people will also be at a total loss because they did not carry flood insurance. Flood waters from the  superstorm were much higher than anticipated and flooding was seen in unlikely places. 

There is a silver lining to the disaster, although it does not outweigh the permanent loss of life and property that many are suffering. The rebuilding that will occur in the wake of the storm will ultimately boost the economy of the northeast, putting many people to work, even if only temporarily. Economists forecast a half-point dip in the economy for the rest of 2012, with an improvement in early 2013. This is a typical economic phenomenon with natural disasters.

The improvement could ultimately bring a small boom to the region by mid 2013. 

Mitt Romney has also returned to campaigning while President Obama is surveying damage from the storm. Today, Obama met with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and pledged support for cleanup and recovery efforts. 

Meteorologists believe this may have been the most powerful storm to ever strike the region in recorded history. 


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