, Newburyport, MA


November 2, 2012

Taking heed of Sandy's warning

The ancient Tainos of the Caribbean islands got the name right when they called ocean storms of the kind that all but paralyzed New York City and coastal New Jersey a ``huracan’’ (evil spirit).

We have added another one to our history with hurricanes, and this one is called “Sandy”.

Considering the spread of its devastation, as well as its assault on the final week of a presidential campaign, “Sandy’’ is not likely to have been what the Tainos might have called it.

“Terminator” would have been more like it.

Four days from now we will either re-elect Barak Obama for another four years of deadlock, or elect Romney in the hope that his political elasticity might actually get Congressional elephants and donkeys to share common ground.

But for the weekend, millions of Americans will be dealing with outcomes along Sandy’s path.

Mother Nature’s lesson of recent days is that projection of absolute outcomes of storms as momentous as this one is a giant step on our learning curve because, collectively, we have never been hit this hard.

As for our responses to local expectations, nothing done that could have been done at Plum Island would have saved it had the landfall of Sandy been at Rhode Island instead of Long Island.

Had that happened, not only would Plum Island have been swept almost clean of construction. Most of Salisbury Beach, and much of Newburyport and Amesbury waterfront properties along the Merrimack and Parker rivers and low lands would have been decimated.

The short of it is that this storm was a shrieking freak of what we had come to expect of nature’s making. There is nothing by way of history to suggest that this was not unique. Neither, however, is there anything to reassure us that it was a one-off that will never happen again.

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