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More Sandy images from the Princeton area

Here are a couple of videos that show how bad the storm damage was in Princeton.  The first one shows Witherspoon Street, which is one of the main streets in Princeton.  The second shows the area around Princeton, including some of the roads I drive on.  This was pretty typical of the damage around my town as well.  There are many downed trees blocking the road, and many downed power lines.  Roads through the Princeton area were detoured for a couple of weeks and as of last week, there were still traffic signals that weren’t working in parts of Princeton and Lawrenceville.

First video: Witherspoon Street, Princeton

Second video: Roads around Princeton.

Now, I know that many people are playing the world’s smallest violin for Princeton and somehow, we’re supposed to feel collective guilt for all the suffering that happened in New Orleans after Katrina because… because… fuck if I know.  I guess I should just forget all of the collection stations in the local shopping center parking lots to send stuff to NOLA.  Yeah, we’re just insensitive jerks with no sense of responsibility or empathy.  {{rolling eyes}}  And because we didn’t all drown, we should not ask for any money from the Feds, not even the 40 cents for every tax dollar we send to Washington that we don’t get back.

No, we didn’t all drown, but about 100 people in NY and NJ did in the shore areas and there were enough people hit by falling trees.  This was not just a severe thunderstorm.  NOLA was suffering on a personal scale as well as a property scale.  On the other hand, it’s not like the gulf coast isn’t used to hurricanes.  There’s even a famous NOLA drink named after them.  What these videos are showing is the unprecedented nature of this disaster on places that were not on the shore.  We live about 40 miles inland.  And while our area isn’t going to suffer the devastating economic losses associated with the shore, it’s not nothing here.  Pay attention to the second video, especially to the tree canopy overhead.  That’s what I’m worried about.  They’ve cleared the obstructions and repaired the power lines but some of those trees up there are still dangerous, just like some of the trees in Central Park are dangerous.  They’re compromised.  We’re going to find out just how compromised they are in the coming months.

This final video is pretty good.  It’s from a guy who has a house on Ortley Beach at the shore.  Note that these houses are not super swank millionaire “cottages”.  They’re pretty typical of well-established shore towns.  Some of the houses have been there for almost 100 years.

Here we go again

The wind is picking up and making a whooshing noise in the eaves.  The Nor’easter is expected to blow in tonight.  I’m very concerned about the people who lost their houses in Sandy and now have nowhere else to go.  Some of the evacuation centers have closed so that schools could reopen.  Andrew Cuomo just tweeted everyone to stay safe.  Not so easy to do when there’s no real shelter.  You’d think that the Red Cross and FEMA would be trying to quickly find people places to stay.  Instead, they are increasing the amount of their housing vouchers so the displaced can get new digs.  That might not be easy in a state with unemployment running over 10%.

Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis, who lives a couple of towns over from me, wrote a very stern letter to his township committee about the state of the cleanup.  There are still a lot of broken and uprooted trees leaning over the road just waiting for the excuse of a stiff breeze to topple onto an unsuspecting motorist.  It’s bound to happen.  There are so many of them.  We’re going to be hearing about accidental deaths by branch bludgeoning for months after Sandy.  It was only two days ago that the utility trucks got around to removing the utility pole hanging over the power lines above Route 206 in my township.  It was marked with orange traffic cones but that was just window dressing.  If that sucker had fallen, two lanes of traffic would have come to a screeching halt.  But since Route 206 is one lane in each direction for most of its snaky length through central NJ, I’m betting that the authorities thought it would be worse to trigger carmageddon all the way to Pennsylvania than hope for the best that no one would be killed.

Our schools reopened today, a week and a half after Sandy.  The reason it took so long is because, like Jeff’s township, our township, one of the largest in Somerset County, NJ, has many semi-rural to rural roads where the school buses have not been able to get around the downed trees, overhanging trees and utility poles, and debris.  And because there is a state law forbidding them from even trying it, for good reason, parents now have the responsibility to get their kids around the obstructions so that they can meet the buses at a cluster site.  Parents tend to get all in a snit over the least inconvenience in the best of times (ask me about the lice outbreak when I was on the board of ed) but in this case, they probably have good reason to be concerned.  I feel for the township authorities.  This is a monumental task.  They’ve done a lot so far and, unlike Bernards Township and Basking Ridge, most of Hillsborough now has power.  But it must be overwhelming the abilities of townships to cope.  The difference is that people who live in Bernards Township where Jeff lives tend to expect better service.   At the very least, there should be a clear pathway for them to get to the airport so they can wait out the power outage in their condos on the Gulf of Mexico. But a week is a long time to be without power even for the well off.  In this particular catastrophe, Sandy was class neutral.  Even the rich can die of hypothermia.

I might note that it is Jeff’s neighbors who re-elected that do-nothing DC golfer, Leonard Lance, as our congressman last night.  Maybe they can appeal to his office for assistance.  Good luck with that.  That’s not to say I am not sympathetic.  I am, especially when it comes to people are elderly or suffering from chronic illnesses.  But sometimes, I have to wonder what they were thinking when they vote for guys like Lance.  Is it worth saving on taxes when you might have had more cleanup crews on the roads?  Perhaps Jeff might bring up the subject at the next neighborhood holiday party and see if the light goes on in his neighbors’ eyes.  I might also note that they all got together and worked on removing the obstructions themselves.  That kind of cooperatively smacks of socialism, if you ask me.  {{tongue firmly in cheek}}

In any case, this is my day to get gas so get it I shall.  I’m running on fumes today.  And while I’m out, I might as well stock up on some D batteries.

And fill my 2 gallon Coleman water dispenser.  And find my damn headlamp…