Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
That was the outlook many people in the Eastern U.S. had as dire weather forecasts over the weekend predicted a “superstorm” of historic magnitude barreling toward the coast. As many as 50 million people were predicted to be affected.
And when Sandy washed ashore late Monday night, striking the country’s most densely populated region, she packed a powerful punch with hurricane-force winds blowing upward of 80 mph.
In the light of day Tuesday, the true devastation was visible: Entire neighborhoods were under water. Those living in higher elevations were being buried under a blanket of deep snow. Millions of people from Maine to the Carolinas were without electricity.
Here in Marion County, residents were luckier.
Although we didn’t escape the storm completely unscathed — there were downed trees and power lines, nearly 600 people were without power and Bunner Ridge, in the county’s higher elevation, got 6 inches of snow — we counted our blessings that we were among the few areas in this part of the state that seemed to miss the brunt of Sandy’s wrath.
We also took comfort in the fact that the Office of Emergency Management was ready if we had been hit hard. Chris McIntire, director, said the county was “very well-prepared,” adding that personnel had been manned with chain saws to cut down fallen trees and shelters were ready to open for displaced families.
“But we didn’t have to. We were in stand-by mode. There were few calls for assistance. Nothing out of the ordinary,” McIntire said.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case for other parts of the Mountain State, nor in New York and New Jersey.
The superstorm dumped 2 feet of snow in parts of West Virginia, caused several buildings to collapse, cut electricity to thousands and left others stranded by impassible roads. State officials have blamed the storm for five deaths, including a legislative candidate from Barbour County.
In New York, large swaths of lower Manhattan lost electricity and entire streets ended up under water, as did seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Mass transit was shut down, and the New York Stock Exchange was closed for two days due to weather, the first time that had happened since a blizzard in 1888. In a flooded beachfront neighborhood in Queens, a huge fire had destroyed more than 100 houses.
And in New Jersey, search and rescue crews were out in force. The devastation on the Jersey Shore was, as Gov. Chris Christie said, “some of the worst we’ve ever seen.” In Hoboken, at least 25 percent of the city remained under water Wednesday, and at least 20,000 people were stranded.
According to early estimates, Sandy will end up causing about $20 billion in property damage and $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business, making it one of the costliest natural disasters on record in the U.S.
But when natural disasters of this magnitude happen, Americans rally.
It goes without saying that in the coming days and weeks, the citizens in the hardest-hit areas will need our help more than ever before. As they begin to pick up the pieces and start the rebuilding process, both of the communities they call home and the lives they have created there, we hope they will be comforted by the thought that they have the support of an entire nation.
After all, that’s one of the best things about this country. We pick each other up and carry on. The paths are sometimes bumpy, but we don’t give up. We are resilient.
And that resilient spirit will prevail.
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
Laws to keep mudslinging to minimum can stife free speech
By nature, and by profession, we do not like lies. As journalists, we’re truth tellers. Or at least we attempt to get at the truth through research, attribution, documents and comments from people on either side of an issue.
Sometimes it ends up with “telling lies from both sides,” as a crusty reporter once mused a handful of years ago.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
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