“Superstorm” Sandy killed more than 100 people, destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, and left millions without food, water, electricity, sanitation or shelter for days or even weeks. Our thoughts and prayers remain focused on its victims, many of whom are still grieving as they struggle with the storm’s wintry aftermath and try to rebuild their lives.
Unfortunately, too many politicians continue to use the storm to advance agendas, deflect blame for incompetence and mistakes, and obfuscate and magnify future risks from building and development projects that they have designed, promoted, permitted and profited from.
Sandy was “unprecedented,” the result of “weather on steroids,” various “experts” insist. “It’s global warming, stupid,” intonedBloomberg BusinessWeek. “Anyone who says there is not a change in weather patterns is denying reality,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared. We must protect the great NY metropolis from rising oceans, said the Washington Post. This storm should “compel all elected leaders to take immediate action” on climate change, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pronounced.
Unfortunately for the politicians and spin-meisters, the facts do not support this obscene posturing.
North America’s northeastern coast has been battered by hurricanes and other major storms throughout history. A 1775 hurricane killed 4,000 people in Newfoundland; an 1873 monster left 600 dead in Nova Scotia; others pummeled Canada’s Maritime Provinces in 1866, 1886, 1893, 1939, 1959, 1963 and 2003.
Manhattan got pounded in 1667 and by the Great Storm of 1693. They were followed by more behemoths in 1788, 1821, 1893, 1944, 1954 and 1992. Other “confluences of severe weather events” brought killer storms like the four-day Great Blizzard of 1888. The 1893 storm largely eradicated Hog Island, and the 1938 “Long Island Express” hit LI as a category 3 hurricane with wind gusts up to 180 mph.
Experts say such winds today would rip windows from skyscrapers and cause a deadly blizzard of flying glass, masonry, chairs, desks and other debris from high-rise offices and apartments. People would seek safety in subway tunnels, where they would drown as the tunnels flood.
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