Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Will Lower Manhattan Need to Be Evacuated?

This crane dangling over Midtown Manhattan may be the iconic image of Hurricane Sandy hitting New York City. It has supposedly been secured to the building and another crane will be installed to remove the damaged one. But how long will that take?

How long will it take? is the question that hangs over Manhattan, with many residents especially in lower Manhattan without water and electricity for 48 hours. There were fights today as residents lined up for crowded city buses to get them off the island. Others walked out over the bridges.

New Yorkers are famously tough, and they can last a few days without water service. Most buildings have large water tanks on the roof. Standard practice is to fill the bathtubs to have water to flush the toilets. But at some point that runs out.

The subway system is supposed to reopen tomorrow, but what percentage of the system will be operating and in what neighborhoods? While large parts of the city may be up and running without problems, that doesn't necessarily help the neighborhoods that are still down.

With Long Island and New Jersey also in tatters we may have a very large problem looming if services across the city and region don't get put back to normal in the next day or two. In the meantime, it is Occupy Wall Street on a large scale.

Update 11/1: ConEd is saying they will have the power back on in lower Manhattan by Saturday but it could be out another week in other places. Mayor Bloomberg wants to go ahead with the New York City Marathon on Sunday. Organizers are probably counting on a majority of the usual 50,000 runners not showing up.

Update 11/2: Mayor Bloomberg has succumbed to climate change and cancelled the NYC Sandy Zombie Apocalypse Marathon that he was still planning to run on Sunday: "While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division." Politicians thrive on controversy and division, corporate sponsors not so much.

Update 11/2: Mayor Bloomberg also spoke today on the world's largest dangling metaphor:
"Concerning the crane on West 57th Street: Tomorrow, work on securing the crane will begin. It’s an approximately 36-hour operation, and the goal is to remove the vacate order and allow people in the vicinity to return to their homes and offices by Monday night.

We’ve just got to make sure that we do this where it doesn’t cost any more lives – or any lives – and we think we have a plan that’s been well studied by everybody, and we’ve been on the crane and with workers and we’ve photographed everything, and we’ve studied the blueprints, and we think we have a plan that will in 36 hours let us secure the boom to the building, and then over the next three or four weeks they’ll have to build another crane next to it to take down the pieces that are damaged."
You've got to admire the use of the word "we" by the world's newest expert on dangling metaphors.

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