It is hard to put into words the absolute devastation that we are seeing along many areas of the east coast right now. Boats have been washed ashore, homes have been razed, some coastal roads have been essentially destroyed, and large numbers of people are still trapped in their homes by flood waters. It is being reported that more than 50 people are dead and more than 8 million people along the east coast have lost power. Those without power might not get it back for a week or more. In New York City, an all-time record storm surge of almost 14 feet caused incredible destruction. It is going to take months for New York City to recover, and along the Jersey coast things are even worse. Hurricane Sandy really did turn out to be "the worst case scenario" for much of the eastern seaboard. At this point more than 15,000 flights have been cancelled, and nobody knows when subway service in New York City is going to be restored. More than 4 million people a day use that subway system, and right now many of the most important tunnels are absolutely flooded with water. Sadly, this crisis is far from over. The storm formerly known as Hurricane Sandy has moved inland over Pennsylvania where it continues to do a tremendous amount of damage. The full extent of the destruction caused by this storm will probably not be known for weeks.
We have truly seen some unprecedented things during this storm. For example, a 168 foot long tanker was driven ashore on Staten Island. Right now the tanker is sitting on Front Street.
In the beachfront Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point, a massive fire broke out and burned just about everything that was not already flooded. The blaze destroyed close to 100 homes, and by the end of the fire more than 190 firefighters were battling it.
Some areas in the West Virginia mountains have already had up to 3 feet of snow, and yet it just continues to fall. When all of that snow starts to melt in a few days, tremendous flooding is anticipated.
The northeast has never seen a storm quite like this, and the ripple effects are going to be felt for years to come.
The following are 18 startling quotes about the incredible destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy...
#1 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
"The devastation on the Jersey Shore is some of the worst we’ve ever seen. The cost of the storm is incalculable at this point."
#2 MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota
"The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots. As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water. We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery. Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal."
#3 Hoboken, New Jersey Mayor Dawn Zimmer
"The Hudson River came in and filled half of Hoboken like a bathtub"
#4 Little Ferry resident Leo Quigley
"I looked out and the next thing you know, the water just came up through the grates. It came up so quickly you couldn’t do anything about it. If you wanted to move your car to higher ground you didn’t have enough time"
#5 New Jersey resident Montgomery Dahm
"I mean, there's cars that are just completely underwater in some of the places I would never believe that there would be water."
#6 Mobile home park resident Juan Allen
"I watched a tree crush a guy's house like a wet sponge."
#7 Angela Valenta, mother of 9-year-old Angelo Valenta
"He kept saying, 'Am I going to die?'"
#8 U.S. Representative Bob Turner
"I, along with many other Breezy Point residents, lost our homes last night and I am grateful that my family and I are safe after this destructive storm. I hope you will join me in lending a hand to those who were less fortunate and keep everyone impacted by this storm in your thoughts and prayers."
#9 Long Branch, New Jersey resident David Arnold
"The ocean is in the road, there are trees down everywhere. I’ve never seen it this bad."
#10 New York resident William Yaeck
"I am looking outside of my sixth-floor apartment, and I see that a new lake has formed in the parking lot adjacent (to) my building"
#11 Motel owner Peter Sandomeno
"There are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean"
#12 West Virginia meteorologist Reed Timmer
"It's 3 feet of heavy snow. It's like concrete"
#13 Maryland State Police dispatcher Bill Wiltson
"It’s like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs up here"
#14 Con Edison spokeswoman Sara Banda
"This is the largest storm-related outage in history"
#15 John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Con Edison
"This will be one for the record books"
#16 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
"Clearly the challenges our city faces in the coming days are enormous"
#17 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
"You want to talk about a situation that gets old very quickly. You are sitting in a house with no power and you can't open the refrigerator"
#18 National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pollina
"It was an extremely devastating and destructive storm, hopefully one that people will only see once in their lifetime"
So what will this storm ultimately cost the U.S. economy? Well, Fox News is reporting that the total cost could reach 45 billion dollars. Others estimate that the economic toll may be even higher than that.
But one thing is for certain - at a time when layoffs are already surging, this is definitely not going to help. The U.S. economy is showing lots of signs of slowing down again, and this storm may have just nudged us even farther in that direction.
Hopefully we will have some time to recover before the next major crisis strikes, but with the election coming up early next week that does not seem too likely.