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Doctors Without Borders in Queens

Doctors Without Borders in Queens Craig Ruttle / AP Photo

After federal assistance fell short.

No, it’s not a third-world country: it’s Queens. The international aid group Doctor’s Without Borders has decided to set up operations in Rockaway Peninsula for its first American operation—as federal assistance has failed to meet all the demands of recovery efforts. “When these things happen in developed countries, we assume the government knows how to deal with it,” executive director of DWB Sophie Delaunay said. “That isn’t necessarily the case. We assumed with Katrina that authorities would cope with medical needs.” The New York region was one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, and remains in a state of disrepair. In Far Rockaway, little is available for the hundreds without power, food, and medical attention. Meanwhile Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg announced there would be gas rationing, with cars that have license plates ending in odd numbers being served, and then evens the next day.

Read it at Outside

COLD NIGHT

Fresh Storm Hits Ruined Rockaways

As a new nor’easter blows through the devastated neighborhood of New York City, thousands of the suffering hope a newly elected president will soon bring them help.

Nine days after Hurricane Sandy struck Rockaway, a nor’easter swept in from the sea, bringing icy winds and snow that promised a hard night for the thousands who were still without heat and had already endured too much.

Superstorm Noreaster

People walk through snow as it accumulates in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood of the borough of Queens, New York, on Nov. 7, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. A nor’easter is complicating an already difficult situation with wind and blowing snow. (Craig Ruttle / AP Photo)

The big threat was the sea itself, which had already shouldered aside the boardwalk and blasted through seawalls during the hurricane. The peninsula stood all but defenseless as word came that this second storm might bring a surge of as much as three feet when it peaked.

“There’s nothing to stop it,” a resident of Beach 118th Street said when the surge was just two hours away.

A full-sized flagpole that had stood at the end of that street as part of a monument to a firefighter killed on 9/11 now lay in the middle of the street. The boardwalk had been driven back and then smashed at the center, with the sections on either side tilted up at crazy angles. The sea was churning just beyond; indeed there was nothing but sand to keep it from reaching the homes beyond if it began to rise to any significant degree.

During Sandy, big waves had surged up the street, and one incredibly lucky young Rockaway man is said to have leaped from a second-floor window and body-surfed to the end of the next block, where he landed on the steps of a convent and found refuge with the nuns.

Nobody on Rockaway, though, seemed to be feeling lucky on Wednesday as darkness gathered and the storm neared it peak. The thought of being flooded again caused even some of the most stalwart souls to wonder aloud if they should just give up and move away.

It turned out that Rockaway had finally gotten at least a measure of good luck with the bad. This was not another perfect storm. The surge was coming not at high tide as it had during the hurricane, but as the tide was falling. And there was no full moon.

House Wanted

Displaced by Sandy

Just as New York and New Jersey officials were struggling to assess the scope of the housing crisis after the storm, a new nor’easter forced fresh evacuations. Malcolm Jones on the confusion.

In 2007 New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) sponsored a contest. “What if New York City …?” invited architects, designers, and planners to design temporary housing that could serve dense urban spaces in the wake of a Category 3 hurricane. The response was enthusiastic, and the city got enough submissions to select 10 finalists and 10 runners up (PDF).

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Police tape hangs in front of a home damaged by Superstorm Sandy on Nov. 5, 2012, in Beach Haven, N.J. Today was the first day residents were allowed to return to Long Beach Island following the storm. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

The designs are striking, but not nearly as striking as the prescient opening paragraph of the city’s invitation:

In New York City, over eight million people live on land that has 578 miles of waterfront. By 2030, the population is expected to reach nine milllion. At the same time, global climate change has put New York City at an increased risk for a severe coastal storm. In recent years, storms have become more intense, occur more frequently, and continue farther north than they have historically. The city would face many challenges during and after such a storm; one of the most difficult is the possibility that hundreds of thousands of people could lose their homes.

In other words, the city knew what was on the way. And yet, four years after the competition, plans for temporary housing that came out of that competition are still on the drawing board. To get prototypes into production will take at least another year.

“I wish we had this built,” OEM Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno told the New York Post, “but it was hard to fund and hard to get interest in it.” Certainly OEM has taken a strong interest in disaster preplanning on Bruno’s watch, including the comprehensive revision of New York City’s Coastal Storm Plan, which ensures, among other things, that the city can shelter more than 600,000 displaced residents.

Very little about storm relief is easy, starting with an accurate count of those affected. More than a week after Hurricane Sandy ripped up much of New Jersey and New York, official estimates of how many people were driven from their homes by the storm range from 10,000 to more than 40,000. The lowest figures reflect the number of people in government-run shelters, where officials can get an accurate nose count. After that, any figure you hear is going to be “a very rough approximation,” says Frank Berry, a press spokesman in the New York City mayor’s office. “We don’t have an exact figure for the number of displaced people because the situation keeps changing.”

A major snowstorm a week later just makes things harder and more confusing.

Days before another storm threatened this fragile New York community, hippie volunteers were on the scene, helping to rebuild. Alice Proujansky reports.

A spontaneous group of volunteers loosely affiliated with the Occupy movement is partnering with storm victims to put hot food into the cold hands of Queens residents still reeling from Hurricane Sandy—and facing the possibility of another nasty storm.

Occupy Sandy

Salvatore LoPizzo, right, turned his social welfare group into a hurricane relief hub with the help of Occupy volunteers in Rockaway Beach. (Alice Proujansky)

A week after Salvatore LoPizzo finished renovating his storefront outreach center on Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Queens, Hurricane Sandy swept through, taking a large chunk of his town with it. Director of the You Are Never Alone (YANA) community center, LoPizzo had wanted to serve a population he calls “the people that society doesn’t want to deal with”: recent immigrants and addicts, mentally ill adults and former prison inmates living in nearby single resident occupancy buildings. Locals were suspicious of LoPizzo’s motives, he says, but he was moving forward with plans to offer classes on installing solar panels, starting construction businesses, and opening home day cares.

Then Hurricane Sandy dumped four feet of dirty seawater into his building.

Diego Jorge Ibañez, an Occupy Wall Street activist, was riding his bike down Rockaway Boulevard last week when he saw LoPizzo cleaning up his storefront. The shaggy-haired do-gooder helped out, and then asked if he could use the space as a hub for hurricane relief. LoPizzo agreed, and Ibañez sent word out through Occupy’s online network. Donations of used clothing, blankets, and candles began to trickle in, and soon volunteers flooded the area.

Last Friday, a group loosely affiliated with the relief movement, now named “Occupy Sandy,” built shelves and turned the space into a rough, free supermarket with shelves labeled “Carbs,” “Kids Books,” and “Blankets/Cobijas.” The lights were back on, thanks to “Rolling Sunlight,” a Greenpeace truck with solar panels that rolled into town last Wednesday, and Doctors Without Borders was seeing patients in the lot next door. “This is like Target!” LoPizzo marveled.

A steady stream of Rockaway residents trudged over sand-choked streets to collect free batteries, hot food, and candles, and volunteers trooped through the neighborhood cleaning flooded homes. The volume of donations became overwhelming, so churches loaned gyms and basements to warehouse and sort the supplies.

Occupy Sandy

Greenpeace's "Rolling Sunlight" truck helped power a makeshift hurricane relief hub on Rockaway Beach, Queens. (Alice Proujansky)

NOR'EASTER

Bloomberg: Get Off the Road

Bloomberg: Get Off the Road Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Up to 12 inches of snow expected in New York.

Still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers are bracing for a new storm barreling toward the region on Wednesday, with snow already piling up in Long Island. "The city is taking significant precautions in advance of the storm," Bloomberg said in a statement, including halting construction, closing city parks, and urging drivers to stay off the road after 5:00 p.m. Up to three inches of snow are predicted for Philadelphia with wind gusts of more than 30 mph and snowfall of six to 12 inches in southeastern New York and New England. Bloomberg also warned that the storm could impact aid relief in areas hit hard by Sandy. 

Read it at CNN

Man's Best Friend

How Pets Survived Sandy

Jesse Ellison reports on the ways social media, shelters, and new legislation helped pets get rescued after the storm.

Stacey Carmona lost her business in Hurricane Sandy: the Staten Island salon she’s owned for a decade was perilously close to the beach. So was her sister’s home, which flooded with 10 feet of water and is now condemned. But the worst thing that she lost in the storm was a tiny 4-month-old Yorkshire Terrier puppy named Roxy—technically her sister’s dog, but one that had already felt like part of the family.

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A dog is leashed to a tree as people gather in an area where free food and electric charging is offered in Manhattan’s East Village following Superstorm Sandy on Nov. 1, 2012, in New York City. East Village residents are still without power and some of the public housing buildings in the area flooded during the storm. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

“She just disappeared into the dark,” Carmona says. “My sister lost everything. For her dog to go missing, it was the icing on the cake. She was inconsolable. It was the worst thing that could possibly happen.”

It will likely be months before we know exactly how many pets were lost or displaced by Hurricane Sandy. But according to the American Humane Association, some 15 million dogs were in the storm’s path. Multiple Facebook groups have sprung up in Sandy’s wake, including Hurricane Sandy Lost and Found Pets, which by Nov. 6, more than 22,000 people had “liked,” and some 95,000 were talking about, according to the page. And efforts aren’t just ad hoc: both the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States have deployed teams to New York and New Jersey to assist in search-and-rescue operations, give out food and medical care, and create temporary emergency shelters for pets found lost in the storm.

Pets may seem like a secondary concern in the aftermath of a storm that claimed not just homes but also human lives, but according to some of the people who've spent the last few days working around the clock to help reunite families with their animals, the loss of a pet can be—as it was for Carmona and her family—deeply emotionally traumatizing. “I’m in a shelter day by day with these people who have nothing left,” says Niki Dawson, the director of disaster services for the Humane Society of the United States. “They don’t know if they can go home. They’re depending on clothes from the Red Cross. To see their faces light up when they are able to pet their cat or walk their dog. That, that, is what makes you understand.”

"Over and over again we hear from people, ‘I don’t care if I lost my house. I don’t care if I lost my car. It’s just stuff. At least I have my dog.’"

Dawson says her groups’ efforts have largely been concentrated in New Jersey, where 30 people are working in three counties. On the barrier islands, which were devastated by Sandy, they are bringing in an average of 60 displaced animals every day. In areas like Staten Island and the Rockaways—regions of New York that were similarly impacted by the storm—the situation isn’t quite so dire, largely because of New York City’s unusual approach to disaster planning.

In 2006, following Hurricane Katrina, in which some quarter of a million pets died after being left behind by their owners, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, requiring that state and local disaster plans include pets in their procedures. In 2007, New York City assembled a task force to help with this planning, and the result, experts say, is the strongest implementation of the Act in the country. In the wake of a disaster like Sandy, all of New York CIty’s shelters are required to accept pets, as are city taxis and even public transportation systems. 

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10 Hurricane Sandy Villains

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Shortages Wrought by Sandy

Sandy Recovery

New York, Sushi’s Back!

Just a week after Hurricane Sandy left much of New York City starved for power and sustenance, the fresh-fish industry has returned to normal. Lauren Streib reports from the sushi frontier.

Though bruised by lost income and rotten inventory from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, it was back to business as usual for sushi restaurants and fishmongers in and around New York City by Monday morning.

Oreo Birthplace Expansion

Countermen prepare sushi at the Lobster Palace Seafood Market in New York City’s Chelsea Market. (Richard Drew / AP Photo)

Eateries and retailers reported fresh supplies and full menus for sushi-starved Manhattanites at the start of the workweek. “We’re getting deliveries today,” said Carl Waltzer, a co-owner of Monster Sushi, on Monday. The company has two locations in Manhattan, and its Chelsea outpost—in the dark until Friday night and reopened to the public Monday—was able to salvage only frozen inventory. “We threw out a couple hundred pounds of fish, easily,” said Waltzer.

Blue Ribbon Sushi, located in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood and part of the Blue Ribbon Restaurants Group, reopened on Saturday with a limited menu. The contents of its freezer, which dips to minus-65 degrees Fahrenheit, was usable, but everything else had to be discarded. Fresh inventory was back to pre-storm levels by Monday, though the restaurant’s usually long list of daily specials was truncated, said a manager.

Chelsea fishmonger The Lobster Place, which had no power until Friday night, returned to normal business operations on Sunday. Still, the store had to discard 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of lobster and 500 pounds of other seafood product, which is about a day and a half worth of inventory, said retail-operations manager Brendan Hayes. A week without foot traffic and hungry consumers was a greater loss for the business, of course.

The Lobster Place’s wholesale business in the Bronx was minimally affected by the storm, and its fleet of 12 trucks also managed deliveries this week despite the area fuel shortage. Aside from a few local oyster farmers on Long Island that had to shut down due to potential waste runoff, Hayes said he wasn’t aware of any noticeable change in quality or quantity of local fish from the New York and New Jersey area.

Alex Ortiz of Brooklyn’s Fish Tales market agreed. He said the inventory at the Fulton Fish Market at Hunts Point in the Bronx, the largest wholesale fish market in the country, was plentiful and that Fish Tale’s stock has been fresh every day since last week.

A spokesperson for the Fulton Fish Market said business throughout last week was slower than usual, as both wholesale seafood dealers and buyers from the tri-state area dealt with the aftermath of Sandy. Though there was some flooding on the south side of the building, the Bronx market didn’t lose power and was open for business at the crack of dawn Wednesday. (While Superstorm Sandy caused significant damage to some of the region’s largest fishing hubs, such as Cape May, it’s worth noting that more than 85 percent of the fish eaten in the U.S. is imported.)

A Father’s Spirit

Heroism in the Rockaways

A firefighting family whose patriarch was lost on 9/11 honors his memory with a determination to do whatever is needed after Hurricane Sandy—all without power or heat.

When he raised the flag at the end of Beach 131st Street after Hurricane Sandy, 20-year-old Brendan Stackpole was truly raising the flag of his father.

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As anyone familiar with the FDNY knows, his father was Captain Timothy Stackpole, who was severely burned in a fire in 1998 and demonstrated superhuman determination as he shunned a disability pension and spent three grueling years getting himself into condition to return to active duty. He was a newly promoted captain when he was killed at the World Trade Center.

Nobody who knows the family ever doubted that the father’s spirit lived on in his sons. And that was never clearer to their mother, Timothy's widow, Tara, than last Monday, when the city was hit by the biggest disaster since 9/11.

Hurricane Sandy was nightmare enough with the storm surge rising higher than the Stackpoles could have believed and then rising even higher, shockingly fast, with waves breaking in the street outside the family’s home in Rockaway.

Then they saw the flames, shooting up into the darkness just a few blocks away. Tara Stackpole’s closest friend and companion, retired firefighter Pete Brady, began to pace.

“I have to go,” Brady said.

Tara, Timothy’s widow and Brendan’s mother, had long since learned that a firefighter is a firefighter, retired or no.

Shambles

Red Hook Cries for Help

Days after Sandy swept through, the Brooklyn neighborhood remains a shambles, with some residents going without food and shelter, small and big businesses alike closed down, the Red Hook Initiative in the unfamiliar role of disaster relief—and many decrying an inadequate FEMA response.

Alisa Pizarro and her 21-year-old daughter climb 14 flights of pitch-dark stairs, with flashlights and pepper spray, at 80 Dwight St.

Superstorm Sandy

Men dispose of shopping carts full of food damaged by Storm Sandy at the Fairway supermarket in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. The food was contaminated by flood waters that rose to approximately four feet in the store during the storm. (Seth Wenig / AP Photo)

“In case anybody tries to attack us,” Pizarro says. “It’s been too long already without lights.”

They sleep as still as rails, with three blankets each. And they’re lucky to have them. Many Red Hook residents go without, like homeless Vietnam veteran Daniel Rodriguez, who has been in the neighborhood all his life, but now lives in his car. Today, rent was due, but Pizarro hasn’t paid, and she suspects many others in Brooklyn’s largest housing project won’t either. “I don’t want to,” she says. “They’re not giving me the necessities I need. I’m not going to pay.” She misses her 2-year-old grandson, who is staying with his father in Gowanus, because the man has heat.

In some windows of the Red Hook Houses, lights could be seen, but Red Hook Initiative Director Sandy Brockwell assured me that even in those homes, there isn’t gas or water. Official estimates of residents run from 5,000 to 6,000, but locals guess the actual number could be upwards of 10,000. RHI facilitates programs for local youth, but now finds itself in the murky work of emergency management.

“I don’t think we ever imagined ourselves getting into the business of disaster relief,” says Brockwell. Their building, which sits inland on Hicks Street, sustained no water damage, and retained electricity. Just after the storm, Brockwell says, “people just started showing up.”

The office is packed—cops, mayor’s office flacks, medical staff, lawyers, and volunteers, helping the displaced with injuries, prescriptions, FEMA forms or food stamps. Some are eating from plastic containers of homemade pasta salad or soup. The overflow go to the neighboring church after dark outside, where a nine-piece brass band is playing jolly music in the cold for an audience of three or four. Donation boxes strewn with clothes and shoes are toppled over in the street.

“You can already feel the tension,” Brockwell says. “People are starting to feel abandoned and they don’t feel safe for obvious reasons. They need something to look forward to.”

Haves & Have-Nots

How Sandy Rocked the Art World

Days after the superstorm roared through New York City, Dumpsters outside Chelsea’s galleries are overflowing with Sandyfied mess. Blake Gopnik talks to owners about how the scene will change—and who’ll survive.

Magda Sawon, owner of the venerable Postmasters gallery in New York, stood and watched last week as the floodwaters of Hurricane Sandy crept east of Tenth Avenue in Chelsea, reached the giant garage door that is her gallery’s front wall, kept rising until disaster just lapped at its base—and then receded after merely filling her basement with water. “We watched the f--ker come, inch by inch,” she said, “but not a single work of art was lost.”

This fortunate survivor, who lives behind her space and was a rare eyewitness to Sandy’s advance, was speaking on the Saturday after the storm, as she prepared a mulled-wine party for flood-soaked neighbors and colleagues. The hundreds of art dealers in Sawon’s neighborhood make up the largest concentration of galleries the world has ever seen, and up and down the area’s 20 square blocks, floors were being mopped and basements pumped. Just five days after the disaster, acres of wet drywall had already been ripped out and replaced with fresh sheets. Dumpsters overflowed with Sandyfied mess, since few galleries had had Sawon’s luck: at the height of the surge, spaces farther west had become swimming pools.

But despite the repairs going on all around her, Sawon worried that, overall, the effect on the art world might be profound. “It’s the collapse of the middle class, extrapolated to the gallery world,” she said. She was voicing a thought heard from many of her peers: that international megadealers like David Zwirner and Larry Gagosian will pull through just fine, and that the tiny baby spaces will find a way to survive, but that the gallery scene’s middle—“where the most interesting art happens,” according to Sawon—may get hollowed out. In the days right after Sandy, “you could really see the difference between the haves and have-nots,” said Sawon, noting the teams of hazmat-suited pros who were “polishing the deluxe headquarters of world art” versus the small-time dealers “in galoshes cleaning up.”

Printed Matter, north of Sawon on Tenth Avenue, definitely falls into the galosh gang. It’s a long-standing, much-loved, and very scruffy nonprofit that sells artists’ books—more Brooklyn in spirit, by far, than Chelsea. Early in the week, news of its fate had the whole art world crying. Printed Matter had been storing all its stock and archives in the basement, and when director James Jenkin managed to get in from Brooklyn last Tuesday—he said he was first in line in his car when the bridges reopened—he found the basement “full to the brim” with water and all its contents floating on top.

But already by Saturday, the state of emergency had passed, and volunteers had emptied the basement and got its most important contents to the safety of freezers. (That’s always the first thing to do in conserving water-logged paper.) “It went from Armageddon to just an empty basement,” said Jenkin. “I’m trying to not think about the books that are lost, but about having a chance to move forward,” he said, looking around his wet, filthy, smelly storage cellar—which he cannot afford to abandon. “This will be full again of amazing books.” All nonprofits are “a hustle anyway,” he said, adding that he feels Printed Matter will just have to hustle yet more to recover from this blow. “We’re not rich, but we’re rich in good will.”

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Photo by Lucy Hogg

Around the corner from him is a concern that is, indeed, rich—and was not thereby spared Sandy’s wrath. David Zwirner’s deluxe gallery fills much of the block on 19th Street west of Tenth Avenue, and the building received the full force of the flood. On Saturday you could still make out a filthy waterline about 5 feet up on every wall in Zwirner’s maze of spaces—or at least on any wall still waiting to be replaced. Workers were working feverishly to restore the business to its former glory. “Only in America can you get a crew of workers to remake a gallery in 48 hours,” said Zwirner, who’d traded his normal businesswear for an ocean-blue fleece. He’d been mounting two shows when the waters arrived, and those of course got ruined. But already he was hoping to have a replacement exhibition ready for the public by this coming Friday—a show about Chernobyl, in fact, by the noted Los Angeles artist Diana Thater. Viewers would be moving “from one disaster to another,” as he put it. Zwirner acknowledged his good fortune: he’s got the resources to put Sandy behind him. (He’s one of few galleries with flood insurance—purchased, he said, after last year’s Hurricane Irene gave a taste of things to come.) “I’m a little more worried about the smaller operations in Chelsea,” he said. “They will be struggling.”

Indeed, Tanja Grunert, who co-owns a modest gallery directly across the street from Zwirner’s, was sitting in misery as a handful of young men drag out ruined goods. Sandy’s timing could hardly have been worse, Grunert explained. Early November is auction season in New York, when collectors converge on the city, and all the smart dealers hope to get a piece of that action. Now they’ve got only days left to get salable art on whatever walls they can salvage, to help cover the costs of Sandy.

Aftermath

Sandy Victims’ Voting Struggle

Polling stations closed or moved, gas shortages and transit shutdowns leaving residents stranded—casting a ballot Tuesday will be a challenge for those hardest hit by the storm. Caitlin Dickson reports.

In anticipation of the 2012 election, the Rockaway Youth Task Force proudly registered about 350 18- to 24-year-olds from the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. But Milan Taylor, the group’s 23-year-old founder and president, doubts any of those newly registered voters will cast a ballot Tuesday. For those entering their second week stranded in the devastated Rockaways without heat or electricity, figuring out where the polling stations have been relocated to isn’t at the top of any to-do list.

Sandy Voting

Ocean County Tax Board employee Aubry Grant (left) instructs citizens on the mail-in voting procedure on Nov. 5 at the country administration building in Toms River, N.J., in a special early mail-voting arrangement to allow those affected by Hurricane Sandy to vote in person on short notice. (Paul J. Richards, AFP / Getty Images)

“We’re trying to convince people to get out and vote. We’ve printed out fliers with the new poll sites,” Taylor said. “But in reality, if you’re trying to figure out how to keep your family warm, voting might be the least of your priorities.”

Among the buildings left uninhabitable in Hurricane Sandy’s wake are would-be polling stations, particularly in the hardest-hit areas in New Jersey, Staten Island, and the Rockaways. While New Jersey’s lieutenant governor announced Monday that voters could email ballots, the New York City Board of Elections is sticking with the traditional paper method and simply redirecting people to new polling places via a constantly updating list on its website. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said late Monday that his state’s displaced voters would be allowed to cast ballots in any New York polling place.

Of the hundreds of regular polling locations throughout New York City’s five boroughs, only 60 will be up and running Tuesday, as of the DOE’s latest update.

But the DOE’s website is of little use to people without power.

That’s why groups like the League of Women Voters spent all day Monday fielding calls from people unable to get online or even get through to the DOE’s busy phone lines to find out where their stations were moved to or if they are eligible for a shuttle ride. “We are available for voters who don’t have Internet or power,” said the league’s New York City president, Ashton Stewart. “Our people power is minimal, but we’ve been keeping our four phone lines engaged all day, just letting people know where their nearest poll site is.”

David Frum and Michael Tomasky break down the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and what that might mean for the election.

Animal House

Taking Shelter in the Reptile House

The zoo had backup generators to protect its animals. But when the power went down at an emergency shelter next door, the zoo’s director welcomed refugees from the storm.

Jeremy Goodman knew he’d have to save the 700 animals that inhabit northern New Jersey’s Turtle Back Zoo from Hurricane Sandy. The zoo director knew he’d marshal his staff, round the creatures up, and get them inside storm-resistant, generator-powered buildings. What he didn’t  realize is that he’d also have more than two dozen human guests for  the night as well.

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The entrance at Turtle Back Zoo in Essex County, New Jersey. (Wikipedia Commons)

As Sandy approached, Goodman and his staff stocked up on food and water, filled the Essex County, N.J., zoo’s generators with gasoline, and stocked those rooms he knew would have power with ample air mattresses, sleeping bags, and cots for his staff. He and his crew worked right through the storm, fighting fierce winds to get from building to building, wearing glowing necklaces and flashlights once the power went out. The wind toppled 80-foot-tall trees, which scattered across the property, taking out a perimeter fence, a train tunnel, and an animal obstacle course.

One by one, Goodman and his workers moved the animals to safety and monitored their health. They put out a heating pad for Shu, the Kimodo dragon. They gave a sedative to Methos, the alpha-male wolf, because he seemed particularly anxious. Then the power went out next door, at a shelter housed by the Essex County Office of Emergency Management. That building had no heat, no generator.

So Goodman invited 25 people to spend the night in the zoo. He  brought out animals to entertain the kids and set up extra cots in the reptile house, where erstwhile shelter inhabitants slept next to pythons and poisonous tree frogs.

"People are having a once-in-a-lifetime sleepover,” he told Newsweek. “We couldn’t turn them away.”

What Makes a Hero?

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.

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Hilarious Wind-Blown Reporters

Hilarious Wind-Blown Reporters

As Hurricane Sandy barrels toward the northeast, see some of the most hilarious wind-blown reports.

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