Snarled City

On Wednesday, it took me about two hours to get to the office, and return home, mostly walking.  Yesterday, with the alternate bus and subway service, I was able to ride most of the way, but it still took two hours each way.  Con Ed says they’ll restore power in lower Manhattan by Saturday, and with that, hopefully, we can get trains over the Manhattan Bridge.

Still, I’m lucky I don’t drive, or else my life would be overtaken by the search for gasoline.

I was transfixed by the network news last night: I’ve seen disaster reports from other parts of the world often enough, but not from my own backyard.  A woman from Staten Island, which got hit badly, complained that her neighborhood was not getting help from the city.

But as far as I can tell, the city’s plans emergency plans did not include bags of goodies for people whose houses had blown away.  You were encouraged to stay with friends on higher ground, or failing that, go to a shelter.  But if you own a home, fixing the damage is your own responsibility, with the help of insurance, or possibly federal disaster relief money.

Most of the residential areas subject to flooding in NYC are occupied not by the very poor or the very rich, but by middle-class homeowners.  Their woes may be just beginning.

2 thoughts on “Snarled City”

  1. Even if you do not drive, sooner or later, your life will be involved with gasoline, or its deriviatives.

    We need fuel/oil/gas for trucks, for emergency vehicles, for generators, to heat buildings — you are involved somewhere along the line, either directly or indirectly.

    We need oil for petroleum based products. We’re invloved somewhere along the “chain of command’ on that, also.

    I too think that this is the tip of the iceberg and the worst is yet to come.

    The general vibe I get is terse, desolate and hopeless. You can see it in everyone’s faces no matter where you go — life as we knew it is over.

    I am deathly worried about the job market. Am I being silly? Please tell me i am.

  2. I can’t say for next year, or next month. But at this point, there isn’t a fuel shortage: there’s a distribution shortage.

    Power is still out in much of New Jersey and Long Island, and deliveries have been interrupted by the storm. But both of those problems are getting resolved.

    I remember the fuel shortages of the 1970s: among the loudest complaints came from the truckers. But we haven’t heard much from them, and in the news reports covering the lines outside gas stations, there were very few trucks. This morning, I took an walk: of the two gas stations in my neighborhood, one was closed, and the other had a line about six blocks long. Most of the vehicles waiting were private cars, with about 25-30% taxis, and one truck.

    I have to believe that vehicles that don’t fuel up at the local gas station–over-the-road trucks, buses, and most emergency vehicles–still have their supplies.

    That said, when I look at my own measure for recovery from the storm–the restoration of subway service–things do not look good. There are sections that should logically be brought on line that are still not there yet. There are rumors being reported in the paper as news. At this point, I believe that restoration of some lines will take months, but nobody wants to say that.

    I agree that the worst may be yet to come. Typically after a storm, crews are mobilized from elsewhere in the US, everyone pulls together for a couple of weeks, and the lights are back on. In many places that won’t be enough. My colleague, who lives on Long Island, expects the power to be out for several weeks.

    And no, you’re not silly to worry about the job market. We all have to earn a living! The icky part is that I’m not sure what we can do as individuals to improve it.

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