Published on 30 Oct 2012

Sandy humbles New York, but not for long

New York prides itself on its resilience. After all, this place survived 9/11, the mid summer blackout of 2003 and the collapse of the financial system on which much of the city’s pride and prosperity are based.

So a storm called Sandy shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. But the elements have humbled this city for at least a few days. The power is out for almost a million people. Wall Street has stopped trading for a second day. The airports are shut, the subway system flooded and Manhattan once again feels like an island.

I have covered a number of hurricanes and their first names are as familiar as distant but unpleasant relatives. Ivan in Alabama, Katrina in Louisiana, Sandy from Washington DC to New York City. I left my family in the basement of our house in DC hoping that the giant trees around our dwelling will remember that the place was once occupied by the founder of the Sierra Club, America’s original tree-hugger lobby.

They lost power but only for a few hours. The trees were merciful. After seeing too many neighbours’ houses cleaved in half by toppling trees and some unlucky people even killed by falling branches, this was a huge relief. In New York the dangers were probably less severe but seeing the water boarding of an iconic city is unforgettable.

Sandy was yet another reminder that this is a big country that does big weather. From its inception America has always pitted the human spirit against the determination of nature. Whether hurricanes, tornadoes, snow storms, earthquakes, drought or deluge, this struggle between man and elements helps to define America’s character. Some day it might even define this country’s policies towards the environment.

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5 reader comments

  1. Seugne says:

    Matt Frei is doing a more than competent job with his coverage of the elections and the storm. Why then do we need Jon Snow ‘over there’ facing the camera while interviewing on a split screen the man who knows (ie Matt Frei). What a waste of money and how annoying for the viewers.

  2. ted shepherd says:

    maybe it might persaude the U S A that the kayto agreement is not a bad thing. Maybe it might make Americans walk a bit more to save the enviroment. I wonder what some people will have to pay for insurance next year. Pretty scary what mother nature can do.

  3. John Lynn says:

    Great documentary (The American Road Trip, Obama’s story) I travelled across 4 states last year looking for an America which I did not find, but did listen to talk radio in my car, and found it quite disturbing. Well done to channel 4 and to Matt Frei, for a style of journalism necessary for our time.

    Many thanks

    John Lynn

  4. anon says:

    I still remember the first debate. I am bothered by a president who prepared by playing golf.

    He is not playing golf now.

  5. john kendall says:

    Sandy should initiate the debate not only about the reality of Global Warming , but whether a system based on the free market model is capable of meeting the necessities and windows of opportunity before they are missed.

    The historical record shows that the Financial and environmental catastrophes we are witnessing are a cumulative outcome of practices that if repeated as a mantra of faith can only dig the hole deeper.

    New revolutionary practices must emerge that are not reduceable to any historical precedent .

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