The good, bad and ugly of Super Storm Sandy

Sandy clouds by Bruce Stambaugh
The last clouds of the remnants of Super Storm Sandy left Holmes County, Ohio late afternoon on Nov. 1.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I’m both a news and weather junky. When the weather is the news, I’m fixated. So it was with Hurricane Sandy.

From the time the hurricane entered the Caribbean until it finally dissipated in Canada many days later, I focused on news of what came to be known as Super Storm Sandy. Between her alpha and omega, Sandy stormed up the east coast. Once she turned inland, the destruction intensified.

Initially the media focused on a breaking story of a severely damaged construction crane in New York City. I watched in awe as video showed hurricane force winds bending the towering, monster crane like it were a twig. The damaged section dangled precariously several stories above a busy street while police and firefighters evacuated the area. News cameras zoomed in on the scene for the entire world to see. Much more serious incidents were occurring unknowingly far out of the cameras’ lens.

Sandy was one massive storm, just as predicted by the professional severe storm forecasters. Perhaps that is one positive to take away from this major weather event. Knowing that weather scientists were able to project accurately the intensity and path of the storm may convince people to take better precautions when future storm warnings are issued.

A huge geographic swath impacting millions of people got hammered. Sandy merged with an interior cold front, creating a hybrid storm with fierce winds, torrential rains, flooding, storm surges and even heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains.

Sandy’s aftermath told an ugly, unfortunate story. Major metropolitan areas, including New York City, were particularly hit hard. As Sandy moved inland, the consequential events unfolded, and the media coverage began to expand.

Beach by Bruce Stambaugh

Sandy’s winds, rains and high tide storm surges had obliterated once pristine places and popular vacation spots. Those who failed to heed the warnings either were stranded or rescued. Unfortunately others paid with their lives. Beaches where sun worshippers once lounged and children romped were simply gone. Beachfront homes and businesses disappeared.

Millions of people were without electricity, potable water, food, transportation and heat. Schools were closed. Businesses shut. Ruptured gas lines burst into flames, destroying entire blocks of homes. It was a mess to say the least.

The high winds and heavy rains we experienced here were minor compared to most affected communities. In fact, we were happy for the quenching rains.

Emotions and responses to the super storm became paradoxical. While snow resorts in West Virginia opened earlier than ever, several storm-related deaths occurred from auto crashes on slippery roads.

Birds seldom seen in Ohio were blown into the Buckeye State ahead of the intense storm. Birders here were ecstatic. All the while thousands upon thousands of people in northern Ohio were without power.

As the reality of the breadth and depth of the storm became known, the media ranged far and wide to cover the catastrophe. Both heart-warming and heart-wrenching stories of people helping people developed. The damaged crane seemed inconsequential compared to other ongoing calamities and heroic acts of goodwill.

Jessica by Bruce Stambaugh
Jessica Stambaugh
As massive and destructive as Sandy was, it seemed to affect each of us personally. That was certainly true for my family and me. A niece, Jessica, lives in Manhattan, and was among the throngs without power and heat for days.

I never did hear what happened to that dangling crane. I just know that Jessica was safe. Unfortunately, scores of others couldn’t say that about their loved ones.

This column appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012