Six Months After Hurricane Sandy, Signs of Economic Life Emerging from the Rubble

An insurance adjuster surveys a destroyed property on

It’s been six months since Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast, the second most damaging and ferocious combination hurricane & cold weather front to ever hit the United States. [ Hurricane Katrina has been the only storm to inflict more damage. ]

When the storm struck I blogged and reported on it nonstop for a week. The world was riveted by the sheer size and mass of this behemoth superstorm, which blanketed the entire upper east coast of the United States well into New England, parts of Canada, with storm effects stretching as far south as northern Alabama.

Six months later tens of thousands of people remain homeless or displaced. Others are still living out of boxes and suitcases in hotel rooms across New Jersey and New York state while they battle in out with insurance companies. Any semblance of normal life has been washed away for thousands of families still coping with the red tape nightmare aftermath of trying to rebuild shattered homes and lives. Children’s sense of normalcy and routine has been utterly disrupted in all of this and they often suffer the most.

Many new oddities have emerged as side effects of the hazards wrought by Hurricane Sandy. Used car buyers are cautioned as never before with “Buyer Beware” to try to avoid purchasing a vehicle which may have been partially submerged and water damaged by Sandy. Tens of thousands of automobiles sitting parked on new and used car lots, parked in garages or on the street were submerged in the storm surge deluge when Sandy hit. These vehicles are not a good bet as an auto purchase and articles are being written telling consumers how to avoid these formerly ‘sogged out’ autos by all means when shopping for a car.

In south Jersey shore region of Moonachie and Little Ferry, mold is now the new enemy. Other New Jersey residents are feeling the pinch of escalating double digit increases in the price of property insurance.

Hopeful signs are scattered among the wreckage and detritus left behind by the storm.

1.7 billions dollars in federal HUD block grant money will soon begin to be distributed to communities in New York state affected by the storm.

Writer Katie McFadden of Rockaway New York writes that “Everybody remembers what they were doing on October 29th 2012.”  Six months later residents of Rockaway New York are still struggling to cope with the losses inflicted by the storm, but residents have hope that brighter days are ahead.

Mariners in Barnegat Bay New Jersey report that the bay is fine and the waterways are safe to travel. They are inviting visitors to come and spend a day on the bay.

Tony’s Pier Restaurant in the Bronx New York, will re-open this summer. The popular eatery had been completely destroyed by fire related to hurricane Sandy.

In Suffolk Virginia, Bennett’s Creek Restaurant and Marina has announced plans to re-open soon.
In northeast Ohio, shrubs and evergreens are in high demand as homeowners and businesses rebuild, replant and re-landscape areas destroyed by the storm.

Many Jersey Shore towns are pleased to announce that they are “open for business” six months after Sandy.

Teens from Yonkers New York recently took a field trip to Fire Island to help clean debris still lingering from the storm.
East coast writers are also penning posts wagering that Atlantic City will soon make an economic comeback. Grace Bello, an NBC News contributor, blamed flawed and misleading national news media coverage of hurricane Sandy on the serious slump in visits to Atlantic city since the storm hit:

“Atlantic City casinos were forced to shut their doors on Oct. 28 during the storm. Protected by the dunes, the infrastructure of Atlantic City’s tourist district was barely harmed by Sandy, and the casinos reopened within a week. But national news footage had shown the city’s iconic boardwalk engulfed in waves. Afterward, TV correspondents toured a 50-foot section that lay in splinters. However, media coverage missed that the portion of the boardwalk that suffered was in a residential neighborhood a half-mile away from the last casino on the boardwalk, and had been in disrepair for years.

Nonetheless, according to a November survey by Russel Research, 41 percent of Americans believed Atlantic City’s boardwalk had been destroyed.”

Go Spend Some Money on the Eastern Seaboard This Summer

If you are planning a trip or vacation, consider the east coast this summer.  Why not make plans to visit and spend some time and some money at an east coast resort town in Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware or New York State?  Your money will be well spent, bringing just a little more hope and economic sunshine into the lives of our friends and neighbors back east who are literally rebuilding their livelihoods, often from scratch.  The businesses they are trying to resurrect need your support.  And you might just have the time of your life while you are there.

Ortley Beach Sandy.JPG

LEFT: Car sits flooded near downtown Crisfield as Hurricane Sandy pounded the region. RIGHT: Same spot today.


Facts about Hurricane Sandy

Superstorm Sandy, a hybrid of a hurricane and two cold-weather systems, struck on Oct. 29, concentrating most of its fury on New Jersey, New York and Connecticut and becoming one of the most expensive storms in history. Six months later, the region is still recovering and the scope of the storm has come into sharper focus. Figures are as of April 26.


DEATHS:  The National Hurricane Center attributes 72 deaths in the United States directly to Sandy and 87 more indirectly, from causes such as hypothermia due to power outages, carbon monoxide poisoning and accidents during cleanup efforts, for a total of 159.


DAMAGE:  The Hurricane Center estimated Sandy’s damage at $50 billion, second only to the $108 billion caused by Hurricane Katrina in Gulf Coast states in 2005. Congress approved more than $60 billion in storm aid for Sandy victims and their communities.


HOUSING AID:  The Federal Emergency Management Agency has paid out $959 million for housing assistance and $848 million to communities and nonprofit groups in New York state, and $387.4 million in housing grants and $263 million to communities and nonprofit groups in New Jersey.


DISASTER LOANS:  The Small Business Administration has made $1.4 billion in disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses in New York, and $731 million in New Jersey.


FLOOD INSURANCE:  The National Flood Insurance Program has paid $3.4 billion in claims in New York, and another $3.3 billion in New Jersey.


UTILITIES:  Jersey Central Power & Light says 1.3 million customers lost power in New Jersey. It cut 65,000 trees to help restore power, fixed 34,000 downed wires and put up 6,700 new utility poles. In New York, Consolidated Edison has strung 60 miles of new electrical cable after the storm and eventually restored power to more than 1 million customers.


Sources: National Hurricane Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Jersey Central Power & Light, Con Ed

Six Months After Sandy: Sea Gate Family’s Recovery Still A Struggle

Residents of Staten Island’s high-end Nicolosi Drive still struggling after Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy proved too much for many of New Jersey’s storm-damaged forests

North Korean Propaganda Video Portrays Nuclear Bombing of American Cities, Video Now Pulled from Youtube

Topographic map of North Korea. Created with G...

Topographic map of North Korea. Created with GMT from SRTM data. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just watched the propaganda video [ see below at end of this post] and I don’t find this latest in-your-face provocation from North Korea even a little bit funny.

Anyone who reads knows how sickening the present situation is in North Korea, where Kim Jong Un and his family feast extravagantly each night while his entire nation wastes away from starvation.

Un did away with 31 of his closest cabinet and military advisors in order to secure his power after his father died. Following this macabre logic of “worship me or die”, the most secure way to hold onto power would be to kill off the entire nation, then hold court over their graves for the rest of his days.

We have all read the stomach turning  reports: people eating the bark from trees, digging for earth worms, eating rats, and finally, just recently reports began to emerge of starving parents deranged by hunger killing and eating their own children. It’s so far beyond deplorable that there are no words that adequately describe how to respond to such reports. It’s a frontal assault on all human dignity. The institutionalized monarchical madness of the Jong regime needs to end. If there were ever a moment when a “regime change” was needed in a nation, this is that moment.

We all know the United States military would have taken care of this a long time ago, but for the hovering of China over it’s deranged little brother, North Korea, restraining the US from taking the steps necessary to liberate the North Korean people from her decades long nightmare of groveling under generational tyrants.

The US State Department has historically treated North Korea as the red headed stepchild of the world, reacting sternly when it acts out, which is often. North Korea has a long history of instigating high drama military provocations against the US, creating a sense of false crisis with hostile rhetoric and actions, then demanding all kinds of new aid and special deals from the United States in order to “defuse” the make-believe crisis it created in the first place. It’s a well delineated pattern of attempted international blackmail against the US that re-occurs every 8 to 18 months or so. It’s tedious. It’s tiresome.

But now the ongoing “situation” presented by North Korea is getting more serious. Someone somewhere in this tiny isolated nation, which has generationally starved it’s own people into submission to keep them under control, has produced a propaganda video, over dubbed with the elevator music version of Michael Jackson’sWe Are The World” theme, which celebrates the nuclear bombing and destruction of the United States. I think it’s time  for the state department and the US military to begin taking North Korea’s threats MUCH more seriously, MUCH MORE.

Here’s the North Korean propaganda video:

UPDATE: Before I could finish this post and upload the video was removed. I am looking for copies of it now which might still be online. Try this link:

See also:

Increasing Numbers of Young North Koreans Defecting to South Korean Colleges and Failing to Make the Grade

In Propaganda Video, Only North Korea Sleeps Easy

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Finding Gas After Hurricane Sandy: Tips, Links, Resources, Twitter Accounts

Finding Gas in NYC, NJ, CT

Saturday 11.03.12 update

Begin here:

Gov. Christie has signed an executive order rationing gas for NJ residents in 12 counties. You can read that report here.

New Jersey residents on Twitter follow @njgas

NYC residents on Twitter note that @nycgas’s account has been suspended, so follow @GasBuddy or go to:

List of Gas Stations that CURRENTLY Have Lots of Regular Unleaded GAS

#NYCgas map showing gas station locations [ I don’t know which of these stations are out of gas. ] map of NYC, NJ gas station locations

On Twitter, some hashtags to find gas include: #njgas, #nygas, #nycgas and #brooklyngas. In addition, you can follow the Twitter accounts of @GasBuddy and @njgas. Other Twitter handles such as @brooklyngas and @nygas don’t have many followers – but, as of Friday morning – were pumping out information. (Pun intended.)

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Eating Out of Trash Bins, Long Bus Lines, Coming Unglued Over Gas

List of Gas Stations that CURRENTLY Have Lots of Regular Unleaded GAS

Real human suffering, shattered communities and frayed nerves are emerging from the weather catastrophe of hurricane Sandy. Tensions are running high in New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut, the three states hardest hit by power outages from hurricane Sandy. The Business Insider reports that at least 49,000 New Yorkers are trapped inside apartment buildings and still without electric power.

In NYC commuters wait for up to three hours every day to board buses to get to work. Huge crowds mill around bus stations and the lines stretch out behind them for blocks on end.

For many on the east coast who literally lost everything they owned in the storm, hunger is already a real and urgent issue.

Among the most nerve rattling stories are alleged incidents along the upper east coast that the residents of wealthier neighborhoods are having their electric power restored first, while working class families in poorer neighborhoods languish without electricity or heat for the fifth straight day since the storm hit. Both Bridgeport Connecticut and Staten Island residents allege this is taking place and they are furious over it. It also hasn’t exactly been a popular idea among the residents of New York’s Staten Island that while they literally pillage through restaurant rubbish bins for food that Mayor Bloomberg has decided to go ahead with the New York Marathon. Bloomberg’s reasoning is that NYC needs the income boost that the marathon will bring. Grocery stores have spiked prices on many items to 3 or 4 times their normal cost.

Long gas lines and gasoline rationing is part of the aftermath in New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut. Five to ten gallons of gas per person is now the limit. For a huge SUV that will put about a quarter of a tank of gas in the car. Many station owners stated they have “gas in the ground” but no electricity to operate pumps to get to it. “Panic buying” of gas has only exacerbated the situation. Gasoline lines stretched literally for miles along with tedious waits of over two hours to get the pump only to find you could not fill up but could only put five or ten gallons of gas in the tank. Many people ran out of gas on the way to the station and vehicles were seen being pushed for several miles by groups of people to make it in for gas. In Queens New York a frustrated motorist pulled a gun on another motorist while in waiting in line for gas. State Troopers have been deployed to keep the peace at many stations. About half the gasoline stations in the upper east coast region are still closed and without power or enough fuel to reopen.

The quest for gas has many people going online for tips on where gas can be found in their regions:

“Nov 2 (Reuters) – Looking for gas in places that have been hit hard by Sandy? Instead of waiting in line, go online.

Crowd sourcing is the best way for drivers who are looking to fill up their tanks or get fuel for generators to find the most up-to-the-minute information.

On Twitter, some hashtags to find gas include: #njgas, #nygas, #nycgas and #brooklyngas. In addition, you can follow the Twitter accounts of @GasBuddy and @njgas. Other Twitter handles such as @brooklyngas and @nygas don’t have many followers – but, as of Friday morning – were pumping out information. (Pun intended.)

A caveat: Stations run out of fuel quickly.

“As soon as someone gives us a lead, they follow it and get there, and there’s not always gas,” says Michael Sandler, a lawyer who started the @njgas Twitter account earlier this year to monitor gas prices in his area.

Sandler advises gas-hungry consumers to avoid rest stops on major highways. It’s not worth it to wait three hours in line, he says.”


Utility workers pelted with eggs after Bridgeport, Conn. mayor blasts provider

Cited:  “United Illuminating workers reported eggs and other objects being thrown at them a day after Mayor Bill Finch said the utility was taking care of wealthy suburbs while his constituents suffered. The unrest caused United Illuminating to pull its workers out until the city agreed to provide police protection.

“Citizens began throwing things at the crews,” Michael West, a spokesman for United Illuminating, told “It started to get pretty hairy. They did not feel safe.”

Public Phone Talk NonStop: Crime Wave of Smart Phone Thefts Sweeps Nation

Fall 2012

It’s a pet peeve of mine. I happen to deplore being forced to listen to a total stranger’s personal cell phone conversation by mere public proximity.

I am pretty sure I decided this after being inadvertently subjected to a 40 minute dissertation on the finer points of lesbian S&M sex, blood letting and all, while dining out one night in Seattle in the late 1990s. A group of four women were sitting one booth over from mine in a popular Capitol Hill eatery, and they were not only having an open discussion about this topic over dinner, but talking to someone on the phone about it at the same time. TMI ladies. Enough.

Fast forward to 2012:  It’s the greatest case made yet for encouraging chattterbox Americans everywhere to “hang up” and cease & desist talking on their cell phonesnon-stop in public places. Police departments across the country have noticed a sharp upward spike in thefts of smart phones this fall, following on the heels of the release of the new IPhone 5 and other popular new phone models.

In New York City, 40% of all reported robberies are smart phone thefts. In San Francisco, 50% of all reported crimes are related to stolen smart phones. Cell phone theft in Los Angeles has spiked 27% since the same time last year. 25% of all crimes in L.A. are now smart phone thefts. Police departments are overwhelmed with these burgeoning cases, and the probability of recovering all of the stolen phones is very low.  NYPD cops stated in an interview that they have recovered exactly ONE stolen smart phone in 6 years. Some phones have clever apps that will help locate them, but not all.

As most young people now carry the digital footprint of their entire lives on their smart phones, if the phone is snatched they become instant targets for home invasion, identity theft, kidnapping, rape, child abduction, blackmail, extortion and every other felony offense that can be committed due to suddenly acquiring the entire personal life dossier of a total stranger whose cell phone you have just stolen. Home addresses, bank account data, employment data, Paypal account data, photos of close friends and family, [ including all the women and girls in the family ] every bit of private data imaginable that is pertinent or personal to the owner is stashed away on their smart phone. It’s a hardened criminal’s dream come true cornucopia of possible looting and ransacking to grab one of these gadgets then bolt away and disappear.

In San Francisco smart phone owners have had their phones grabbed out of their hand while they were still talking while sitting on a city bus or transit, then stunned with their jaw still on the floor watched helplessly as the perpetrator jumped off the train or bus and disappeared into the crowded street. That ought to teach anyone a hard earned lesson about yammering incessantly on their phone in crowded public places.

It’s a wake up call, pun fully intended.

The smartest thing a smart phone user can do is NOT to talk on their phones while in a crowded public place. But do you think these “phone addicted” people are going to do that? Probably not.

So since the American public most likely won’t stop talking everywhere in public on their phones, they might at least make an effort to use some modicum of whatever remaining common sense is still left in them, that has not drained into the electronic bowels of their “smart phones.” Here are some of my ideas for this dilemma:

Consider the following safety tips to keep your phone in your own possession, and not lose it to the scabby 92 lb. meth head who follows you to the bus stop everyday:

  1. If you MUST make a phone call in public, step into a ladies or men’s room, check to see how many people are in there before you do, and make the call from inside one of the stalls. If the restroom is crowded, find another private discreet spot – away from crowds of strangers.
  2. Delay non-urgent calls, walk to your car, get in your car, lock your car – [ do not start or drive your car, that’s a no-no] and make your call while locked in your car.
  3. Look around you and keep your awareness UP [ not head down on the phone ] while you walk city streets. It’s child’s play for a crook to snatch a smart phone, as most people now walk along urban streets and parks with their heads down, looking at their cell phones. If someone had been following them for 3 city blocks they would most likely never even notice it. Turn your phone OFF and look around you while you traverse the city on foot.
  4. If you discover that someone you don’t know is following you, do the absolute opposite of what you would imagine you should do [ which is to speed up your steps and try to get away ].  Instead – stop in mid-step, turn and walk slowly past your follower, and look them dead in the eye for as long as you can to memorize their face really well, which will stun and unnerve the stalker. Then turn into the first store front you find, whether you intended to shop there or not. Go straight to the nearest clerk or manager, [discreetly] and ask them to let you out the back door. Tell them you suspect you are being tailed by a possible attacker and you need a safe exit. No one will refuse to help you slip out the back door and make a safe exit. I’ve had to do this before to lose a stalker and it works. Remember this tactic ladies. And don’t forget to remember that face. If you see another crime on the news later, your memory might help to solve a crime.
  5. Tell those you love who are your family where you are going – in person – face to face – before you leave the house. If your phone is stolen, you won’t be able to make contact with them later in those first few minutes and it’s important they knew ahead where you were going.
  6. Travel in cities in twos, threes and fours when you are on foot. This is something I always noticed that college women did in Chico California as the popular college town had a long list of unsolved rapes and murders, which meant a perpetrator[s] was most likely still at large. Traveling in small groups when on foot is the safest possible thing you can do. That fact alone will discourage a stalker or would-be thief, as the odds fall for their crime to be a success with each additional person who is traveling with the group. The incidents of rape and murder of young girls and women would drop substantially if they were accompanied by a friend or a family member when they travel in urban settings, public parks, hiking trails, strange cities they don’t know well, or when they travel anywhere outside their personal “comfort zone” in their own towns. It has always alarmed me that parents still allow their school age children to walk to school alone. It’s really NOT safe to do that anymore in this country. If recent headlines haven’t convinced you of this fact, you are asleep at the wheel in your life. Make a way for your school aged children to be accompanied by someone from your front door all the way to school and all the way back home if you cannot do this yourself. It’s the only way you can be sure your child is safe.
  7. Don’t give your Iphone or other smart phone device to your child to play with while you shop. It’s an invitation to theft and even child-napping. Turn the phone off, put it away inside a pant pocket on your person. Never let your child out of your sight either. This should go without saying.
  8. Finally, make a concerted effort to rediscover the good common sense that you have lost or misplaced along the trail in life. Everything I’ve listed here is a function of common sense which needs to be applied when police departments are cutting back everywhere, less officers are on the street, overcrowded prisons are either shutting down completely [ as was the case earlier this year in part of Oregon ] or they are being forced to let loose many dangerous career criminals who should be behind bars. This [ the crime wave] is not going to get better. It’s the final trickle down effect of towns and cities struggling to keep their budgets in the black and their law enforcement agencies staffed. Start thinking pro-actively and defensively about how you move about in the city, and how, or where, or even IF you really must be on the cell phone all the time.

Hang up, pay attention and look around you. It could save your life. Oh yeah and don’t forget to watch out for bears. They sometimes steal Ipads.

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2012: Homelessness Is Up 20% in New York City, More Now Living on the Streets Since the Great Depression


Homelessness in NYC and in other cities around the nation is up more than 20% from four years ago. More than 43,000 people are now crammed into New York City’s homeless shelters and thousands more are sleeping on the streets each night. I have a message for our two presidential candidates, and it needs to be heard: Stop talking about Big Bird and start talking about the REAL issues and the human tragedy unfolding all around us in every city in America. This is not the hope or the change that anyone had in mind four years ago. I am livid with the “let them eat cake” cavalier attitude of both our candidates and the lame ass media who play follow the leader like mindless fools, chirping about Big Bird while people are eating out of trash cans in every city in the nation.

It’s not only criminal to ignore this plight of human suffering, it’s an abomination against human dignity. How dare the Left Wing media try to keep the “Big Bird” story going when entire families are falling through the cracks in every city in the country and being forced to live on the streets?

Right now the homeless population in NYC is fully ten times the entire population of the region I live in, and not a SINGLE word is being said about it in the 2012 presidential campaign. Why aren’t people demanding a national conversation begin taking place immediately about the situation that so many now find themselves in? The silence is conspicuous, troubling, and it’s a bad omen as well.

No single mother with children, no college graduate, no high school student, no family – ever willfully chooses homelessness. Homelessness comes when all other options are exhausted, no work can be found to help keep an individual clinging to their home and some semblance of normalcy.

“The New Normal” in this country is not about some young gay chiche couple having a baby through a surrogate mother. It’s about an entire family taking to the streets because there is no room for them in the shelter and they have been evicted from their own home, now in foreclosure.

People are suffering, really really suffering and Barack Obama actually has the audacity to actually make a snarky anti-Romney campaign ad about Big Bird.  Are you kidding me? A man who would stoop that low to try to keep blinders on the voters about what is important,  trying to deflect the national conversation from topics of urgent substance back to inane cartoon re-election antics doesn’t deserve the office of the Presidency. It’s such an all time new LOW for a public figure I can’t even believe what I am seeing. A man who would do that is not worthy of the office of the presidency, if he ever was.

Mitt Romney made a spontaneous off the cuff joke in reference to our national debt during the debate – it’s now more than a week later and the entire media landscape is caught up in it … tripping on acid in la-la land over Big Bird. WTF is wrong with people? Is everyone in this country just losing their minds? Is there at least a small handful of adults left minding the stores, the banks, the nukes, and the national government out there somewhere??

I hope like all hell Barack Obama is defeated by a landslide “get out” vote in November that is so loud that it is heard around the world. Let him go eat out of dumpster bins and sleep in a sleeping bag on the sidewalk in downtown Manhattan for a year or two. He deserves it.

And Mitt Romney, should you actually make it to the White House, this better be a moment of genuine turnabout for this country, not another four years of political partisan hatred and gridlock. Between the gridlock, the banal campaign tomfoolery, and the obvious callous disinterest in the actual welfare of the governed, I  believe we are quietly coming to the conclusion out here in “actuality,” aka American towns and cities, that the US presidency, congress and the senate is just about obsolete.

We could have housed more than 2500 homeless families tonight and started re-training them for new jobs on the wages that you all were paid for just one day of work today.  THINK ABOUT IT.  It would have been a much wiser expenditure of that money. What a worthless bunch of over paid self absorbed narcissistic half wits. Karma will come calling on you soon.