Some New Yorkers seek shelter while others blithely brave the wind and rain—and ignore police tape—to get in one more jog or stroll, or just a keepsake photo of the rising tide, Matthew DeLuca reports.
Come hell, high water, or both, in shelters and at home, New Yorkers are ready.
A jogger runs as a police car closes down an area along the East River Drive near the 59th Street Bridge in New York City, Oct. 29, 2012. (Timothy A Clary / AFP / Getty Images)
But in Evacuation Zone A along the city’s Lower East Side, some curious Manhattanites decided to take in the view before Hurricane Sandy forced them indoors. Roving police vehicles with their lights flashing reminded them that this was an area that residents and casual onlookers were supposed to have vacated yesterday.
Along the East River Park early on Monday afternoon, joggers getting in one more lap and couples strolling on what otherwise resembled a typical rainy day ducked under police tape to get a view of the surging water.
Parks Department officers tooted their trucks’ horns, but P.J. Duncan, a 36-year-old information technology worker from Vancouver, was going to get his smartphone photograph of what may turn out to be historic weather.
“I’m here on holiday, and I didn’t want to stay in the hostel all day,” Duncan said. He has friends in Brooklyn, but with the subways and buses shut down since Sunday evening, he decided it’s probably not worth trying to trek out to their Bushwick apartment.
“I think I can walk across the bridge,” Duncan said, eyeing the nearby Williamsburg Bridge. “But I don’t know if I should.”
Pat Arnow and Steve Giles, a couple who have lived on Grand Street on the Lower East Side for 12 years, didn’t seem too disturbed by the looming super storm either.
Do what he says, or you might die. Eli Lake on the man in charge of cleaning up this mess—and making the president look good.
Obama's chances at re-election may come down to a former firefighter from Alachua, Florida, who turned down George W. Bush's offer in 2005 to make him director of FEMA.
Meet Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who will oversee the federal government’s response to what many are predicting will be the worst hurricane to hit the mid-Atlantic in decades.
Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo
The last time a president’s political fortunes relied so heavily on FEMA, it was a disaster for the White House. During Hurricane Katrina, the man in charge of assisting the states from Washington was Michael Browne, who was relieved of his post because of his incompetence less than two weeks after the storm hit. Fugate, now Obama’s FEMA director, is the guy Bush wanted to fill Browne’s shoes.
On a press call Monday, Fugate struck a wary tone, predicting that storm-related damage and reconstruction efforts could last through next Tuesday, when the nation heads to the polls on Election Day.
Fortunately, there are few people who are more prepared for this kind of storm than Fugate. From 2001 to 2009 he was the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management. In 2004, another election year, Florida was hit with four hurricanes and a tropical storm between August and September. Fugate had to replace polling stations that were damaged. At a press conference before one of the storms hit, a reporter asked what would happen if people didn’t evacuate areas Fugate said they should evacuate. “They will die,” Fugate responded with characteristic bluntness.
“He’s straight forward, he’s blunt,” said Bryan Koon, the current director of Florida Division of Emergency Management. “I would say he is probably of the same school of communications as Governor Christie in New Jersey. You get straight down to it.”
In some ways, Fugate is the anti-politician. Raised outside of Gainesville, Fugate started out as a volunteer firefighter after attending special schools for firefighting and paramedics. In 1997, he got his first big break in the emergency-response business when his state’s Division of Emergency Management hired him. In 2001, a month after the Sept. 11 attacks, then-Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him to lead the department.
The 2004 season was the new leader's first real test. Fugate has said that he learned the lesson of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 when responders in some cases did not get to the scene for three days.
Ignoring warnings to hunker down, determined New Yorkers go about their business—and hit the bars. Eliza Shapiro reports from the scene.
Bicyclists and runners in neon jogging gear climbed over police barricades and ignored “park closed” signs in Brooklyn Bridge Park to continue their usual workouts as the wind and rain pushed them back. Young parents in Barbour jackets and Wellington rain boots wheeled strollers to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to storm-watch with their toddlers. “Hang on!” one young girl shouted to her brother, “we’re gonna get blown away!”
Boredom seemed to be a bigger fear than power outages or flying debris among the residents of brownstone Brooklyn.
People look out at the Brooklyn Bridge as Hurricane Sandy approaches, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, Oct, 29, 2012. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)
Jenna Kirk took her dog for a blustery walk along Pier 6 in Brooklyn Heights. She wanted to make sure her dog got some exercise. “I’m going to do nothing and enjoy my day today,” she said.
Elijah Brown, 23, was staying with a friend in Brooklyn after he had been evacuated from his home in Virginia. “I’m going to stay in and sleep and eat today,” said Brown, watching the water rise at Pier 6. And I’ll do some homework."
Other Brooklynites wasted no time stocking up on the ultimate boredom cure: alcohol. “Yesterday was as busy as the day before Thanksgiving,” said Alex Ward, manager of the Heights Chateau liquor store. “People want to hang out and be comfortable. They’re taking advantage of the possibility of just hunkering down for the day.”
A few stores down, Pete’s Ale House was opening for business at 11 a.m. and preparing for a busy day. “We get slammed every time there’s a storm,” said a bartender who gave his name as David. Signs on the door advertised a “Hurricane Rum Punch” drink special.
A woman who gave her first name as Carol was buying a large bottle of Red Tail Merlot at the Michael Towne Wine and Spirits store a few blocks away. “I’m going to hang out today and start drinking at five,” she said.
Gov. Martin O’Malley has his ‘boot up the backside’ of the local power company, pushing to prevent Sandy blackouts. Howard Kurtz on how his move could bode well for 2016.
Martin O’Malley wasn’t about to mince words.
With his state squarely in the path of Hurricane Sandy, the Maryland governor is determined to ensure that the local utility—with one of the worst track records in the country—does everything it can to keep the lights on.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks during U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin's annual fundraising steak fry in Indianola, Iowa, Sept. 16, 2012. (Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo)
“We’ve had our boot up the backside of Pepco to bring in mutual aid help from other states,” O’Malley told The Daily Beast on Monday. “When we started tracking this storm, the first calls I made were to Pepco” and to the region’s other utility, Baltimore Gas & Electric. “I said, ‘Get the assets in here from every place you can.’”
The result is that Pepco, which serves D.C. and Maryland, has brought in more than 3,000 emergency personnel from other states.
Pepco is practically a dirty word in the nation’s capital. Its 778,000 customers have experienced 70 percent more outages than those in other big cities. Service has declined markedly over the past seven years, and the company has ranked at or near the bottom of U.S. utilities in terms of reliability. Even modest storms can knock out power to some customers for a week or more.
“We’ve seen a lot of outages in Pepco service areas,” O’Malley says. “One issue was a lack of preventative maintenance, a lack of tree trimming. They’re starting to catch up.”
Local regulators bear some responsibility. “We, as a commission, can fairly be criticized,” Douglas Nazarian, chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission, told The Washington Post in July. “We didn’t pick up early enough on the need for comprehensive reliability regulations. You can call us on that one.” Last year the regulators hit Pepco with an unprecedented $1 million fine.
The 12 funniest tweets from one of the best Sandy-inspired Twitter feeds.
As with almost all that is buzz-worthy these days, Hurricane Sandy has developed an Internet personality of its own. Among several Twitter feeds related to the superstorm headed for the Northeast is @MittStormTips. We've compiled some of the best "Storm Tips for the 1 Percent" from the fake Romney's list.
The stock market’s closed, the Treasury Department’s moving up bond auctions, and even the electronic exchanges have been shut down.
The advent of fiber-optic cable, automated electronic exchanges and high-frequency trading bots has rendered human presence on physical trading floors irrelevant. The global financial system runs almost entirely on a network of machines distributed around the world. But as Hurricane Sandy plows its way into two of the world’s most important financial centers—New York and Washington—Mother Nature is proving that the markets need more than robots. The financial system just can’t work if too few of its flesh-and-blood people can.
Andrew Gombert / EPA / Landov
Emergency-management expert Eric Holder is already branding the “unusual storm” a Black Swan event. And the global capital markets seem to be responding by making it up as they go along. The New York Stock Exchange announced on Sunday that it would pull all floor traders but stay open, operating as an all-electronic exchange for the first time in its history. But that announcement was quickly followed by a sharp rejoinder from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The upshot: all U.S. stock markets, including the NYSE and the all-electronic NASDAQ, were shut down for Monday—and Tuesday. Recent events—the 2010 Flash Crash, the botched BATS IPO, the robo-disaster at Knight Capital—show that letting the robots run free and trade without human supervision can be incredibly dangerous. And since the New York Stock Exchange has never operated in an all-electronic mode before, any possible malfunction or glitch that couldn’t be noticed quickly and corrected by floor traders would be another black eye for stock exchanges.
Money makes the world go round. And today, cash zips around the world at light speed at all hours of the day. But Sandy has done what was once thought to be impossible: it has stopped money from moving. An options trader in Chicago who couldn’t go into work today said the market shutdown was “better than a snow day.”
A total market shutdown is incredibly rare; it hasn’t happened since Sept. 11, 2001. And Sandy is even stranger—and more disruptive—than past market closures because of its massive wingspan. In the years since 9/11, financial companies have sought to protect themselves from disruptions to Manhattan by setting up satellite offices or redundant trading floors (or simply relocating to) New Jersey, Connecticut, or Westchester County, New York. The largest trading floors in the U.S. are now in Stamford, Conn. But this week, the same phenomenon that is making lower Manhattan a no-go zone is making it impossible for workers in the vast financial metroplex that stretches from Boston to Washington, D.C., to get to their offices.
Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have activated their emergency plans, first put in place after 9/11. Other firms have booked hotel rooms for their key employees, according to Reuters. Goldman’s swanky new headquarters at 200 West Street is smack-dab in the evacuation zone near Battery Park City. Turns out that Greg Smith’s tell-all memoir may only be the second-biggest storm the storied firm finds itself engulfed in. And the company’s back office in Jersey City looks to be under threat as well from the rising waves. As CNBC’s John Carney noted, “When storm surge hits, 'bailing out' Goldman and Citi may become a literal thing."
But it’s not just lower Manhattan. An Amtrak’s ride from Wall Street, Hurricane Sandy is throwing another wrench in the world’s money engine. If New York is where assets are traded, Washington is where some very important ones are created: Treasury bonds. With D.C. also under Sandy’s grip, the Treasury has announced that it will move around its auctions of federal government bonds. Auctions—the process through which the government prices and sells the debt used to fund itself—for 13- and 26-week Treasury bills went off as scheduled on Monday, while the four-week bill auction scheduled for Tuesday closed Monday morning. For at least one more day, the U.S. was fulfilling the world’s thirst for safe, liquid assets.
One way to protect networks is to distribute the assets geographically. And America’s financial markets are distributed—the most important options and commodity exchanges are based in Chicago, for example. But the SEC decided that it doesn’t make sense to have one satellite component of the markets open while the rest are riding out the storm. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which trades futures electronically, halted trading for stock and stock-index futures at 8:15 a.m. Monday morning. Trading for interest-rate futures ended at 11 a.m. in line with a recommendation from SIFMA, the securities-industry trade group, that all dollar-linked trading close Monday. SIFMA recommended that all bond trading in dollars be canceled Tuesday as well. According to a CNBC report, the stock market will remain closed tomorrow. While the New York Fed, housed in its lower Manhattan fortress, remains open, it has announced delays in planned purchases of Treasury debt. Some of its lending operations also closed Monday afternoon 30 minutes earlier than scheduled.
Hope to resume service Wednesday.
Bad news for people who thought Sandy would blow over by Tuesday. Airline carriers have canceled more than 12,000 flights through Wednesday, losing millions of dollars and leaving thousands of travelers stranded. Airports from Washington, D.C., to Boston have canceled most flights on Monday and continue to ground more on Tuesday. A U.S. Airways spokesman said the goal is to have flights up and running by Wednesday, but they will first have to deal with a hefty backlog—and hurricane damage.
Top aides say the storm comes first, the campaign second. Even Romney fans admit the hurricane presents a great opportunity for the president to assert command. By James Warren
President Obama will focus first and foremost on the impact of Hurricane Sandy, no matter how many previously scheduled campaign appearances he must drop, according to a senior White House official and a top campaign aide.
An Obama campaign sign rises above the floodwaters in front of a home as rain continues to fall in Norfolk, Va., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 (Steve Helber / AP Photo)
“The president’s first priority is to keep Americans safe and make sure FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] is working. He will focus on that until he is confident that the worst is over. That is far more important to him” than his campaign schedule, said one official who requested anonymity while speaking about sensitive internal discussions.
A top adviser to several presidents, including Obama, supported that inclination. Speaking of Obama, he said, “He has no alternative but to not campaign whether that gives him a kind of ‘I’m in charge’ moment or, more likely, makes the case that government has the only role when crisis hits—-and even those antigovernment people need government too, when crises happen.”
The discussion among Obama aides has been predictable, especially in the final days of a tight race when multiple reasons to feel anxious surface each day. That ranges from the nuts-and-bolts impact of the storm on early voting by Obama supporters to speculating on the best way to show presidential concern while still making political appearances in battleground areas.
But those close to Obama asserted that there’s little ambiguity in his own thinking—namely that the ramifications of Sandy come first.
Several Republican Party advisers, who asked to not be identified, conceded, as one put it, that “Obama could get a lift from successful management of the crisis by appearing presidential, decisive, in charge.” One then added a partisan shot: "all the traits he hasn’t exhibited lately on the campaign trail!”
The Romney hope, said several GOP sources, is that no swing state beyond Virginia is severely socked by Sandy, meaning that their precinct-by-precinct ground efforts will be largely unimpeded in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin and Colorado, among others.
Due to severe storm.
The show mustn’t always go on. Jimmy Kimmel Live! has canceled its Monday night show because of Hurricane Sandy. The show would have been the first of his five-day return to Brooklyn. It had previously been announced that the show would not be canceled, but the temporary studio in Brooklyn would have been difficult to reach since subways and bridges have been closed. “Due to stupid Hurricane Sandy and in the interest of the safety of our studio audience, Jimmy Kimmel Live! will not broadcast tonight from the Harvey Theatre at Brooklyn Academy of Music,” the show’s publicist said in a statement.
As the East Coast braces for Hurricane Sandy, we hit the streets of the Crescent City for tips on how to prepare, endure, and recover from a monster storm. Everyone got their booze handy?
Obama says it’s serious.
Hurricane Sandy is intensifying as the storm bears down on the East Coast. The storm has sustained winds of 90mph and wind gusts of up to 115mph. Water levels are already more than five feet higher than normal tidal predictions in some areas and are expected to rise. Roughly 116,000 customers in seven states had lost power as of Monday afternoon. During a press conference, President Obama urged everyone to obey authorities, saying “If the public’s not following instructions, that makes it more dangerous for people.” He added that transportation will be down for a “long time” and to expect long power outages. “This is gonna take a long time for us to clean up,” he said.
Because of the storm.
Hurricane Sandy is literally putting a damper on everything—even everyone’s favorite monthly data announcement. The U.S. Labor Department is waiting until the “weather emergency” subsides to determine whether they’ll go ahead with the Friday release of October’s jobs report. The U.S. Census Bureau is also deliberating whether or not it will hold onto the economic reports it had planned to release this week. Typically influential on political polls, October’s jobs report will be the last released before Election Day.
As the city prepares for Sandy.
The effects of Hurricane Sandy reached New York City on Monday, knocking down trees and causing some flooding. A woman was rushed to the hospital after being hit by a tree in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The victim, described as being in her 50s, was taken to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for a non–life threatening head injury. Flooding has been reported in parts of the city and water has breached the promenade in Lower Manhattan's Battery Park City. Mayor Bloomberg again urged residents living in the city’s Evacuation Zone A to leave, saying “Conditions are deteriorating ... the window for your getting out safely is closing.”
As Hurricane Sandy heads towards land, The Daily Beast is tracking photos from the flood zones.
Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that deploys veterans to help with disaster recovery, did their part to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy in lower Manhattan last week. Team member Curtis Coleman, a former Marine, shares his thoughts on heroic leadership.
As Hurricane Sandy barrels toward the northeast, see some of the most hilarious wind-blown reports.