It’s been six months since Hurricane Sandy ravaged much of the East Coast, but the rebuilding process is far from complete. True, much of the more obvious damage has been fixed and the trains in downtown Manhattan are running again, but further from the public eye, tens of thousands are still homeless despite months of cleanup. A harrowing new piece in the WSJ looks at the failures to address the continued issues and the difficulties faced by those whose houses and livelihoods were destroyed by the storm:
By many measures, the recovery from Superstorm Sandy, which struck Oct. 29, has been slow. From Maryland to New Hampshire, the National Hurricane Center attributes 72 deaths directly to Sandy and 87 others indirectly from causes such as hypothermia due to power outages, carbon monoxide poisoning and accidents during cleanup efforts, for a total of 159. [...]
Throughout the region, many businesses are still shuttered, and an already-tight rental market has become even more so because of the destruction of thousands of units and the crush of displaced storm victims looking to rent the ones that survived.
Homeowners are tortured by uncertainty over ever-changing rules on how high they’ll need to rebuild their homes to protect against the next storm; insurance companies have not paid out all that many homeowners expected; and municipalities are borrowing tens of millions of dollars to keep the lights on, the fire trucks running and the police stations staffed, waiting for reimbursement from the federal government for storm expenditures they had to fund out of pocket.
Hurricane Sandy is the most destructive natural disaster this country has seen since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but there is a marked difference between the coverage of these two tragedies. Seven years ago, the press was inundated with stories like these; today, stories like this one in the WSJ are few and far between.
The Via Meadia team hates bad news as much as anybody, so we are boundlessly grateful that there’s a Democrat in the White House. If we had a Republican president, the press would be rubbing our noses in stories like this non-stop. There would be long and serious analyses of how these failures demonstrated the racism of American society. In Europe, people would be citing the Sandy failures as evidence not only of America’s decline, but of the ineffectiveness of our state and the weakness of our society. Not a night would go by without news broadcasts chronicling the sorry aftermath of the storm and its devastating impact on peoples lives. The NYT in particular would be pulling down Pulitzers for its haunting, unrelenting coverage of a scandalous breakdown in governance and of an indifferent, bumbling White House distracted by quarrels abroad and Washington politics as helpless citizens struggled in the cold.
Fortunately, we’ve got a Democrat in the White House and so the press is sparing us the angst and the second guessing. In fact, unless you happen to be one of the tens of thousands still homeless or their friends and families, you have been free to go about your business without a second thought for the victims of the storm. Sandy is over and everything is fine; nothing to see here, folks, move on.
[Hurricane Sandy image courtesy of Shutterstock]