BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
She came roaring like a hungry lion looking for a prey to devour. Her visit was not a surprise and though, she gave warnings of her coming, Sandy was mute about the devastation she would cause. At the speed of 90 mph (144 kph) Hurricane Sandy arrived big obliterating everything in her path. As it closed in on the Northeast, it generated a cold weather that turned it into a damaging hybrid of rain and storm, causing destruction of lives and properties. Fear of the unknown gripped many as New York residents watched some neighborhoods turned into darkness while streets got transformed to ghost towns.
No doubt Sandy was a devastating storm, the worst NY and other affected States had experienced since the horror caused by Hurricane Katrina. Before Down, Battery Park in NY was turned to a darkness unseen since the blackout of 2003 and according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the storm was the worst disaster in the history of NY City Subway system. Train tracks got flooded and in order to limit the damage, the MTA in collaboration with the City decided to shut down transportation by train in and out of the City. Airlines cancelled more than 15,000 flights and the City’s three major airports were closed to minimize damage.
New York’s neighbor New Jersey was not spared of the devastation either. Some of its counties like Atlantic, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union all felt the impact of mother-nature. As of last night, NY reported the number of deaths to be 18 with 50 people in total reported dead nationwide as of last night. New Jersey reported 4 dead, 3 were killed in Connecticut, 5 in Pennsylvania and 2 in Maryland. Other parts affected were Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. In Virginia, two people lost their lives while West Virginia and North Carolina reported one casualty each as of last night. Number of the dead continues to rise and it is unknown how many would have lost their lives by the time Sandy decides to calm down.
In some parts of NY the damage created by the storm, caused fire that raged through a neighborhood, in Queens which led to the destruction of 90 to 100 homes that were burnt to the ground. It is estimated that by the time it is all over it would have caused about $20 billion in property damage and $10 to $30 billion more, in lost business, making it the costliest natural disaster in the U.S. according to forecast by IHS Global Insight.
As the nation continues to experience a terrible diversion from the political frenzy created by the upcoming election, some consider the damage by Sandy an opportunity for both President Obama and his opponent Mr. Romney, to demonstrate leadership. The nation saw the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how the Bush administration was badly criticized for its slow response to the disaster, which led to the deaths of many that could have been saved had help arrived on time. It was a time to test the readiness of U.S. Emergency Operations and the preparedness of the current administration for a major disaster, which could have a great impact on the coming election.
The Republican candidate Mr. Romney has so far resumed his campaign. However, he made plans to turn the rally in Ohio one of the swing states into a “storm relief event.” On the other hand, Mr. Obama left the campaign trail to return to Washington, where he spent the day in briefings in the White House Situation Room. He worked through the night to oversee the response and had telephone conversations with the State local leaders in New York and New Jersey. Unlike the situation during Katrina, the President did not delay to declare a Federal disaster area in New York City, Long Island and eight Counties in New Jersey. The move is expected to make Federal funds available to the affected areas without the normal red-tape that would have delayed funding.
To show his leadership strength, the President has also promised to tour the affected areas in New Jersey with Gov. Chris Christie known for his occasional critique of Mr. Obama and his policies. At a point the news media tried to inject politics into the devastation when Fox News asked Gov. Christie about the possibility that Mr. Romney might take a tour of the disaster areas with him. “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I have a job to do in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me,” he said.
Despite the rivalry of politics, Gov. Christie did not hesitate to commend the President for his response to the disaster which he termed “wonderful,” excellent” and “outstanding were among the adjectives Gov. Christie used to express his satisfaction with Mr. Obama efforts, an indication the President may have passed the test of leadership in his personal judgment.
Some conservatives are already criticizing Gov. Christie for his Kudos to the President, for what many view as a proper response so far. While the total cost of devastation remains unknown, it would be a mistake to let politics override what should be a time for the nation to pull together and help the victims. It is incontestable there is a disruption in the order of things, that this is a test for the current administration and how Mr. Obama and his team respond may play a crucial role in the coming election, but nonetheless, the nation must look beyond politics to overcome the horror of Sandy.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Murder of Diplomacy,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ a recently published fiction. Follow on Twitter @san0670.