Monday, November 5, 2012

DEVASTATING EARTH CHANGES: Monster Storm Sandy Death Toll in US Rises to 113 - Nearly 2 Million Still Without Power!

November 5, 2012 - NEW JERSEY - Commuters battled unruly crowds and snarled traffic to return to work Monday, a week after superstorm Sandy devastated the U.S. Northeast, as authorities scrambled to clear debris ahead of more bad weather and put special measures in place to ensure residents could vote in Tuesday's presidential election.  Many of Sandy's victims were still suffering, and living conditions were harsh for tens of thousands of people unable to return to their homes. Some 1.4 million homes and businesses were due to endure another night of near-freezing temperatures without power or heat. 

People line up on 145th street to collect fuel at a gas station on Manhattan Island in New York November 5, 2012.

The devastation could also send ripples through Tuesday's presidential election, with President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney locked in a close race.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New Yorkers would be able to vote in any polling place - instead of just their assigned location - by presenting an affidavit, while in New Jersey storm-affected residents will be designated as overseas voters, allowing them to submit an absentee vote by fax or email.  An exhausted region now faces the prospect of a new storm. A strong "Nor'easter" was forecast to bring freezing temperatures and more rain and wind by the middle of the week, possibly flooding coastal areas that have yet to recover from Sandy.  "A 60-mile-an-hour wind with a street filled with all sorts of personal belongings and glass and fixtures, you could have a lot of dangerous material flying around," Cuomo said. "This storm on any other given day I don't think would have been life threatening. In this situation it's serious."  Cuomo also ratcheted up his criticism of the state's power companies. "The progress is unacceptable. To say that I am angry, to say that I am frustrated, disappointed, would be the understatement of the decade," he said.  The U.S. death toll rose to at least 113, and thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged by the gigantic storm, which slammed into the U.S. East Coast a week ago, bringing a record storm surge that flooded low-lying areas with seawater. 
Local crews work to remove sand on streets impacted by Hurricane Sandy in Rockaway, New York,
in this handout photo taken by FEMA on November 3, 2012.
Hurricane Sandy killed 69 people in the Caribbean before turning its 80 mph winds on the United States. More than 217,000 people have registered for assistance from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and about $199 million in has been provided, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said.  With the ground in coastal New Jersey towns still saturated with ocean water, officials feared the Nor'easter could flood them again.  In Belmar, Lake Como and Spring Lake, they were taking the precaution of pumping three lakes in these towns nearly to the bottom so groundwater would leak into them and lawns could better absorb the rain.  "By draining the lakes, we're lowering the water table in the neighborhoods around them," Mayor Matt Doherty of Belmar said on Monday. "We did this last year with Hurricane Irene and we found it made a difference."  Further help to disaster victims should be on its way from New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen and other music stars who raised $23 million from a benefit concert on network television. 

Most of New York City's 15,070 schools reopened but 57 suffered structural damage and needed to be relocated, 19 lacked power and another 16 were closed because they were being used as shelters, education officials said.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed a director of housing recovery operations to assist the 30,000 to 40,000 people in need of shelter.  "We cannot call our recovery complete until every New Yorker has a place to call home again," said Brad Gair, a former FEMA senior official.  Some 750 construction workers resumed rebuilding at the World Trade Center site known as "Ground Zero" since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Sandy's record storm surge caused the Hudson River to pour into the September 11 memorial and museum and temporarily stopped construction on two skyscrapers that have nearly topped out.  New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into post-Sandy price gouging after receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers across the state.  Consumers have reported possible gouging for gasoline, emergency supplies such as generators, hotels raising rates due to "high demand," and increased prices for food and water, Schneiderman's office said in a statement. New York state has an anti-gouging law that prohibits merchants from selling goods at an "unconscionably excessive price" following disasters. 

With sizeable legs of the region's public transportation network still hobbled by storm damage, people stood for an hour or more on train platforms or street corners in New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut waiting for trains and buses, only to find many of them too crowded to board.  Service on many rail and bus lines was reduced, and the New York City subway was running at about 80 percent of its normal service. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York appealed to commuters on the Long Island Rail Road to delay travel until after the evening rush hour to avoid overcrowding.  The commute from New Jersey was particularly trying.  As a Northeast Corridor Line train on the New Jersey Transit network pulled into Newark, passengers wondered aloud how the hundreds of people who crowded the platform would squeeze into the already-packed train.  Federal agencies were trying to secure about 350 buses to alleviate the nightmare commute from New Jersey to Manhattan.  Those who chose to drive had to brave long lines at the pump before joining the traffic jams. Service stations lacked electricity or gasoline due to disruptions in the fuel chain.  "It's not pretty," said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience Store Automotive Association.  "We've got about 80 percent of the gas stations in the northern part of the state that don't have either electricity or gas. I've got guys that have electricity, but they don't have any gas left and I've got a lot of people that have gas in the ground but no electricity," he said.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie imposed gasoline rationing, while some New Jerseyans took to hiring school children to stand in line with gas cans.  In Maplewood, New Jersey, middle schooler Liam Kafrissen, 13, leapt at the $20 offer while staying home on his sixth canceled day of school.  Pulling a little red wagon with three gas cans totaling 5.75 gallons (21.8 liters), Kafrissen smiled on his second trip back from the Delta gas station close to his school, still shut without power.  "And I'm still in my pajamas!" he said. - Reuters.

DISASTER IMPACT: Societal Collapse - New York Faces 'Massive Housing Problem' After Sandy!

November 5, 2012 - NEW YORK - Kevin Cordova's family tried cooking hot food to stay warm. They wore their winter coats inside and buried themselves under blankets.  But on Sunday, six days after powerful winds from Superstorm Sandy knocked out their power, temperatures dipped so low they couldn't spend another night in their home in Floral Park, New York.  "There's really no amount of blankets that can stop you from being cold in 30-degree weather," said Cordova, 28. "We feel a little homeless right now. We have our house, but we can't really use it."  Officials say thousands of New Yorkers left without heat after Superstorm Sandy might need to leave their homes as temperatures plummet, but it's not clear where they'll go.

Red Cross volunteers speak with residents in Brick, New Jersey,
in this Red Cross handout photo taken November 4, 2012.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 people in New York City could need housing, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday. Officials are working on coming up with a solution, he said, but they haven't yet.  "We don't have a lot of empty housing in this city," he said. "We are not going to let anybody go sleeping in the streets. We're not going to let anybody go without blankets, food and water, but it's a challenge and we're working on that."  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo described it as a "massive housing problem. People are in homes that are uninhabitable," Cuomo told reporters. "It's going to become increasingly clear that they're uninhabitable when the temperature drops and the heat doesn't come on."  In Long Island's Nassau County, where 266,000 customers were still without power Sunday, some people have died while trying to heat their homes with propane grills and other improvised methods, County Administrator Edward Mangano said Sunday.  "We've very concerned about people sheltering in places without proper heat," he said.  Utility officials warned some residents that it could take until Wednesday for power to be restored, Cordova said. The freelance editor said his family was grateful their house survived the storm, but they're unsure of what to do if their power stays out much longer. On Sunday night, his family planned to stay with friends.

"We're all staying in different houses," he said, "but I don't know how long we can keep that up."  More than 10,000 people across nine states spent Saturday night in shelters, American Red Cross spokeswoman Attie Poirier said. The Red Cross is sending 80,000 blankets to the region ahead of colder weather predicted this week.  "As we move through energy and gasoline, housing is really the No. 1 concern," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who spoke in Hoboken, New Jersey. And we don't even know yet which of the houses are reparable and which are irreparable losses. Those assessments are going on right now, as well as finding temporary housing for individuals who can't move back to their home right away."  As of Sunday, roughly 182,000 people in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York had applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has approved more than $158 million in aid.  In her apartment in Yonkers, New York, Julie Munn huddled under the covers, watching her breath in the air before she went to sleep. Her 6-month-old cat, Sheldon, got skittish, trying to crawl under things to keep warm.  "It got so cold that I left Saturday morning," she said. "It was the same temperature inside the apartment as it was outside."  Munn, 25, who stayed at her parents' house, got word that her power came back Sunday.  But many others were still in limbo. People aren't leaving their homes," said Staten Island resident Tara Saylor, 25. "They have no place to go." - CNN.
WATCH: Staten Island reeling from Sandy's wrath.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Green Alert - Authorities Remind Residents of Danger at Costa Rica’s Turrialba Volcano!

November 5, 2012 - COSTA RICA - Costa Rica’s National Emergency Response (CNE) has issued a warning for those who live between 2 and 5 kilometers distance from the Turrialba Volcano.  Research presented by the National Seismology Network, the University of Costa Rica and CNE stresses the importance and urgency in repairing the only evacuation route, as well as building shelters inside the park.    

The Turrialba Volcano.
The research warns the population of Turrialba that the Volcano’s activity puts in risk citizens and livestock that live within 2-5 kilometers distance from the Volcano. Since 2007, authorities have maintained a “green alert” in the area due to the emission of gases from the volcano, and since 2006 an indefinite shutdown of the park was ordered.     Since then, both national and foreign scientists have followed its activity closely, and after their latest findings, they not only recommend keeping the park closed, but also repairing the only evacuation route from the area as soon as possible.    

There is still livestock and dairy farming, as well as other commerce, in the surroundings of the volcano. The area is also an access route for areas such as the Irazu Volcano, Cot in Oreamuno and San Rafael de Irazu.     Experts also stated that there is urgent need for concrete shelters inside the park as well as the administrative area for the park rangers.     As part of the immediate actions that were taken, radio communications equipment, allowing 24-hour surveillance was installed. An observation camera for the Volcanology and Seismology Observatory in the National University, and a meteorology station belonging to the National Meteorology Institute were also installed. - Inside Costa Rica.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 3.3 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Santa Monica Bay, California!

November 5, 2012 - CALIFORNIA - 3.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Santa Monica Bay shortly before 6:40 p.m. Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. No damage has been reported. 

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the quake's epicenter was about 9 miles
southwest of Marina del Rey and 10 miles west-northwest of Hermosa Beach.

Dispatchers at the Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach police departments said they felt the quake, but had no calls reporting damage.  "I felt it slightly," the Manhattan Beach dispatcher, who declined to give her name, said. "But we've had no calls."  The Hermosa Beach dispatcher said she felt it, but there also were no calls there, which she said was surprising.  "Usually there are some calls," she said.

A deputy at the sheriff's Marina Del Rey Station said he didn't feel the quake and no one called.  As of 7 p.m., nearly 200 people—some from as far north as Agoura Hills—reported feeling the earthquake on the USGS Community Internet Intensity Map.  The temblor's epicenter was about 9 miles southwest of Marina del Rey; 10 miles west-northwest of Hermosa Beach; and 10 miles south-southwest of Santa Monica. It struck about 7 miles under the ocean floor.  According to fault maps on the USGS websites, the earthquake appears to have occurred near the Palos Verdes fault, which runs from just south of Dana Point and up through the Palos Verdes Peninsula before ending in the northern portion of the Santa Monica Bay. - Hermosa Beach Patch.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 2.0 Earthquake Shakes New Jersey!

November 5, 2012 - NEW JERSEY - As if they haven't had enough headaches in New Jersey in the past week, this morning they can add earthquake to the list.

A U.S. Geological Survey graphic shows where Monday's quake was felt.
The magnitude-2.0 temblor struck at 1:19 a.m. and was centered two miles south-southeast of Ringwood, New Jersey, not far from the border with New York. The depth was 3.1 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The agency logged 11 responses from people who said they felt the quake across seven zip codes in New York and New Jersey. Quakes in the eastern U.S. – even small ones like this – are typically felt over a larger area than quakes in the western part of the country, the USGS says. Quakes occur less frequently in the eastern U.S. than in the West.

No damage was reported from Monday's quake.

The largest quake ever recorded in New Jersey was a magnitude-5.3 temblor in 1783, according to the USGS. - CNN.