Hurricane Sandy redefined what it means to be in harm’s way.
Billed as the perfect storm, an Atlantic maelstrom unrivaled in generations, Sandy became all that and more — morphing into Superstorm Sandy, in the parlance of TV weather forecasters, paralyzing and splintering a huge swath of the East Coast, then punishing a quarter of the national map with relentless rain and wind, and even an October blizzard.
The monster that roiled the ocean reached across and roiled the Great Lakes.
The monster that shut down New York became the monster that shut down a presidential campaign. In that regard, it touched all Americans.
The campaign hiatus was fitting and proper, albeit a political no-brainer for President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney. With dozens dead and unaccounted for, with millions without power and wondering about putting their homes and businesses back together, politics needed to take a back seat.
Blunt-spoken New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie perhaps said it best, as he pondered the devastation of his state’s coastline, ground zero for Sandy’s landfall Monday night.
“I don’t give a damn about Election Day,” Christie told reporters. “I’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
Exhibiting the nonpartisanship most of us hope for, Christie, a Republican and strong Romney supporter, even said kind things about working with Obama through the weather crisis. “It’s been wonderful,” Christie said.
Yes, please. Let’s have more of that, if just for the moment. Tragedy is not time to take advantage.
Indeed, Sandy’s sheer magnitude also produced a mother lode of stories of about duty and heroism.
First responders performed rooftop rescues across New Jersey as floodwaters rose. Battling a fire that devoured a neighborhood in Queens, N.Y., firefighters evacuated 25 people from a burning building through chest-high water and into a rescue boat. In 18-foot seas, the Coast Guard evacuated the crew of a foundering three-masted ship off the coast of North Carolina, managing to save 14 of the 16 people aboard.
The job of putting more than 20 storm-ravaged states back in working order will be less dramatic. Millions of New Yorkers in the center of the nation’s business nerve wondered how they would be getting to work in the days ahead after the subway system suffered a level of damage it hadn’t seen in a century. The city that never sleeps suddenly became a quiet, slow-mo metropolis.
Here in the heart of Texas, we know something about rebuilding, having seen twisters and a billion-dollar hailstorm rake our city this year alone. There’s no doubt the East will do the same as we did, starting by covering the roof — if it’s still there — with some of that familiar blue tarp.
They’ll still have dents and debris piles to live with for a while. But you deal with that the obvious way: Just fuggedaboudit.
Copyright Dallas Morning News. Distributed by The Associated Press.