Sandy Cripples The East Coast

10.29.12

Rich People Really Hate Hurricane Sandy

Billions of dollars in property value are at stake—and the 1 percent who own the best of it are bracing for the worst. Paula Froelich on the hurricane elite’s disaster plans.

As Hurricane Sandy rolled in Sunday night and Monday morning, New York City residents started to get a little nervous. Especially the residents with several residences who are worried about Sandy hitting them in their wallets.

More than 119,000 homes, worth a combined $48 billion, were at risk in New York City, northern New Jersey, and Long Island, according to research firm CoreLogic. New York alone has more than $35 billion of property value at risk. And considering Forbes magazine just listed the Sagaponack zip code as the fourth wealthiest in the nation, there is a lot of money at stake.

Jackie Leo, editor in chief of the Fiscal Times, and her husband, John, have a house 300 yards from Mecox Bay south of the highway in Bridgehampton, N.Y. When Irene rolled through last year, the Leos lost power and had a downed tree, but their house was in one piece.

As Sandy approached, Jackie said, “In our case, I called the man who takes care of our house and he put up storm doors, closed the attic window and made sure the grill was inside. Most of the houses [in the Hamptons] are built to hurricane standards or better and can weather a pretty dramatic storm.”

“Right now, there’s nothing I can do,” she said. “We have a new roof, I hope it’s on well. All I can do is sort of hope ... at the end of the day, we’re insured with a super-high deductible—but you roll the dice in life. We’re some of the luckiest people in the world who have a second home in a beautiful spot despite being in a vulnerable area. I adore my house, I treat it like a baby, I keep it maintained, and we have wonderful people who work for us, and if something goes wrong they fix it and we pay for it.”

“We have wonderful people who work for us, and if something goes wrong they fix it and we pay for it.”

Holly Phillips, who has a house north of I-27 in Bridgehampton, was taking it all in stride. “I’m not worried about my house,” she said. “It survived Irene, it will survive this.”

Meanwhile, in New York City, some residents used the closing of subways, tunnels, bridges and businesses as an adult snow day. Knowing there would be no work on Monday, impromptu parties popped up, bars were open late, and residents of Macdougal and Sullivan streets in SoHo were gifted with an impromptu cheerleading performance by a group of drunken women at 4 a.m. on Monday. That particular party went on until 5 a.m.

Others, like Steve Garbarino, a Wall Street Journal writer, and artist John Newsom, ignored the storm report and went to catch the New Orleans Saints lose 14–34 to the Denver Broncos at Bar None in the East Village Sunday night. The scene there “was comparatively Deadsville,” Garbarino said. “Typically, there’s about 150 people crammed in the back room—there was maybe 25 last night. Of course, it could also be due to the fact that the Saints’ defense is rendering them unwatchable of late ... they got creamed. And the Vikings, who ‘own’ the front room, weren't playing last night, which thinned ‘Who'dat Nation’ down to a few diehards and sadomasochists like me.”