Dat Hurricane

I’ve received some frantic IMs and tweets from friends over the last few days about what we’re going to do about the hurricane. Allow me to document our decision making process:

At 1PM today, the Jersey City Police Department issued a mandatory evacuation for ground/first floor units in our neighborhood. We live on the 10th floor of our building – the first eight floors are a block-wide parking garage and common space for the building, then two separate towers start the actual units at floor 9.

At 3PM today, our building forwarded that order on trying to turn it into a mandatory evacuation for the entire building. They requested everyone vacate by 4PM.

Unlike the mandatory evac orders for Zone A in Manhattan (issued yesterday) or first-level apartments in Hoboken (issued this morning), this came *after* the MTA had shut down the subway, *after* the PATH had shut down, and *after* NJ Transit had shut down.

There are emergency shelters, of course, but they are neither near us nor are the buses they are running for them anywhere near us (4 stops on the light rail). Additionally the shelters are not taking pets, and Buttons’ safety and health remains one of our top concerns. (One was just announced as taking pets, opening at 5PM today – a bit late.)

Additionally, like many NYC-area residents, we don’t own a car. So driving west to some unknown destination (we don’t have any friends or family in NW New Jersey) isn’t an option.

The fear from the building (and generally from the area) is more about the flooding and potential power outages than wind damage to the building. Our windows are thick and, per the building, able to withstand high winds. (Jersey City is remarkably windy on average.) We have supplies – water, canned food, charged devices – that we prepared yesterday.

So I would emotionally prefer to have somewhere safe we could go and relax for the weekend – my stress level has been a bit high, having recently completed a week long conference that involved an earthquake. But the logical, rational side of me knows that trying to flee at this point is a losing proposition compared to sheltering-at-home.

So at home we shall stay, for better or for worse. It is not a great decision, it may not even end up being a good decision, but it is the best decision we can make given the options. And to be honest, if the primary disruption that comes from this is a blackout, I think I have ample experience.

Endured Puzzled Over

Draft Report on the 2006 Blackout

It feels like ancient history at this point, but it’s worth realizing that it’s only been a scant six months since the blackout that downed most of Astoria and many other parts of Queens.

Jen Chung was nice enough to point out to me that the Public Service Commission filed [a draft report]( on its investigation into the matter. While it *is* a draft (and therefore, not finished), there is a lot of meat contained within the 185 pages. What I have been able to read this far has been fascinating – covering technical details of the power grid, monitoring systems, and the plight of those affected.

Let’s hope the recommendations in the document take effect by the date specified (most of which are June 1, 2007) – I don’t want to go through this again in 2007.

Debated Disliked

With Power Comes Great Mediocrity

First: yes, we finally have our power back, as of this morning. The cable, which made its own outage in fear of not getting enough of our attention, is also back. Thanks to everyone who sent us well-wishes, and particular thanks to Jen & Jay for putting us up for the weekend so we could pretend as though we were a part of society.

As the dust begins to clear, and fingers begin to point towards those who should shoulder the blame, [it was only a matter of time]( until Mediocrity reared its ugly head:

> As power is slowly being restored in Northwest Queens, the mayor says embattled Con Edison CEO Kevin Burke should not only keep his job, but that he deserves a pat on the back from New Yorkers, much to the surprise of Queens lawmakers.

> “I think Kevin Burke deserves a thanks from this city. He’s worked as hard as he can every single day since then, as has everybody at Con Ed,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference Monday. “It’s easy to go criticize, but once this happened, Con Ed has been doing everything they can to bring it back.”

> Assemblyman Michael Gianaris and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. — who believe Burke should be fired — were visibly stunned by the mayor’s comments.

In a way, Bloomberg is right. It *is* easy to criticize.

It’s easy to criticize a public utility company that gives counts of blacked-out subscribers based on the number of people who call to complain, rather than any real metric.

It’s easy to criticize a CEO that doesn’t apologize until the fifth day of the outage.

It’s easy to criticize workers who have been reported as sleeping on the job, hooting at women, and – in my own personal experience – reading books on Seamanship when they should be fixing the grid.

It’s easy to criticize a governor who refuses to declare a disaster area when over 100,000 people were without power for nearly a week.

It’s easy to criticize a claims program that only allows business claims for food spoilage, thus denying all businesses who don’t deal in perishable goods any immediate relief for their inability to be open.

Beyond all else, it’s easy to criticize a mayor who refuses to hold anyone accountable for the longest blackout in New York City history.