With phrases like “unprecedented super-storm,” “potentially calamitous,” and “life-threatening proportions” being used, it’s hard not to get worked up ahead of Sandy, the hurricane of a weather system heading towards the northeast coast of the US, expected to arrive in New York around in a few hours.
Public transport, which carries the 8 million inhabitants of the island to and fro, has been shut down as of Sunday evening, schools are closed for Monday, Broadway plays cancelled, and even the NY Stock Exchange isn’t going to work, relying instead on electronic trading.
But New Yorkers feel like they’ve watched this movie before.
Last year August, Hurricane Irene forced panic and hysteria, also causing mass transit shutdown and excessive food-snack buying. While Irene created much devastation in upstate New York, for the city, it was a case of ‘she came, she saw, said hi, and left a few broken branches in her wake’. But this time, even the most staunch of New Yorkers will admit, feels a little different. Last year, there was time to organize “hurricane parties” and search for “hurricane boyfriends” (or girlfriends). But this storm feels like its caused a lot of panic and called for a lot more preparation in a much shorter amount of time.
For starters, there’s the fact that US President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maryland. Plus the words and tone of what’s being described here feels more urgent. Storm surges? Snowfall in October? Cue the long queues snaking around Wholefoods and empty shelves where Evian bottles used to stand, as well as the conversations about what exactly one puts inside a “go-bag.”
The timing for all this couldn’t be worse. Not only is the city preparing to host the biggest race in the world, the ING NYC Marathon, next Sunday, but the greater country is racing towards electing – or re-electing – its next leader, heading into the final stretch to the White House. The storm has blown both the schedules of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney off course – sending them away from the important battleground states of Virginia and Florida.
It’s not yet clear the impact Sandy will have on the election as a whole, but no one seems to be taking any chances. And if the devastating power outages that are being forecast come to fruition, then even the least stubborn of New Yorkers will be watching this one in the dark.
Originally published on msn.co.uk.
Pic via NY Post of Sandy, as seen from Space