29 October 2012
A Philadelphia Tempest: Hurricane Sandy
I am currently appreciating such mod-cons as a fully-charged laptop, wi-fi, and a coffee machine. My fellow-residents at the Library Company's Cassatt House suggest we will not have these for long, as Hurricane Sandy, the apparently officially-named 'Frankenstorm' is making landfall on the New Jersey coast as I type, and is likely to unleash hell on PECO's electricity-supply capability. I hope they are wrong, but if not, I have a flashlight, a pile of paperbacks, two bottles of wine and some cheese.
The weather and popular news channels have been overjoyed with the turn of events, and have gone to town with 'Storm Watch'-style graphics and bulletins. It makes for great TV, and even better, appears to be a break from the election, which seems to have thoroughly bored everyone, the president included. However, it does make it hard to work out what is really going on, as I assume it's not really the apocalypse, just in time for Halloween (and we've heard little about the hurricane in Haiti or Cuba). It's no-doubt very serious, and already miserable for the residents of Atlantic City, and, as one wag put it, a host of small towns mentioned in Bruce Springsteen songs.
The political fallout is hard to judge. The incumbent can look presidential, and gets some free screen time, but political scientists suggest that voters tend to punish POTUS for 'Acts of God'; in contrast, gubernatorial incumbents gain voter support. Some mileage has been made out of Romney's focus on small government and comments about downsizing FEMA, the federal emergency agency. In contrast, there is something about standing on one's own two feet and looking after one's own that speaks to Mitt's narrative about America. The Atlantic offers a good overview. (Pennsylvania, incidentally, is a swing state.)
Meanwhile, thanks to the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina, it is federally mandated to allow pets into hurricane shelters. As Carole commented, Toto would be pleased.
More, I hope, to follow tomorrow.