Film disaster becomes reality as Sandy blows in

WHEN Katarina smashed up New Orleans, we looked on in horror the way you would a foreign disaster movie — appalling, but not really something you could relate to.

But now that Sandy has flattened Manhattan, it is a familiar disaster movie come to life. Godzilla might not have been marching down Fifth Avenue eating cars, but in real life there is a Godzilla-sized crane dangling by a thread over the same street, threatening to decimate anything it falls on. Sandy’s FX should be nominated for an Oscar.

In the interests of life imitating art, my kids and I watch the Roland Emmerich disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow straight after watching the CNN news. Oh boy. Surging floods sweeping familiar Manhattan boulevards? Check. Frantic officials talking about the swamping of the eastern seaboard? Check. The New York subway submerged in floodwater? Major power blackouts? Cars floating down the street? Check, check, check. Most eerily of all, the movie poster showing the Statue of Liberty up to her armpits in a raging tsunami is uncannily similar to the real photos on the front pages of newspapers everywhere this week.

However, unlike the disaster movie, very few people have died from Sandy the Frankenstorm, and there seems to have been little mass hysteria. As with 9/11, New Yorkers have pulled together. A few funny fake photos have done the rounds — one is a wall grafitti’d with “I don’t believe in global warming” submerged in flood water.

Providing it blows itself out, the 50 million people affected will slowly get back to normal; the millions currently without electricity will get switched back on; schools will reopen; floodwater will drain off; things will dry out. For now.

But what affect will Sandy have on the presidential election next week? What if the electricity remains off, so that millions of voters can’t vote? (They do it electronically over there, the days of stuffing paper in ballot boxes long gone). What if roads and transport are still not working, so that people can’t get to polling stations? And what if Obama’s reaction to the storm is perceived as not good enough?

Never mind that Mitt Romney — until the floodwaters began lapping at his handmade shoes and Mormon undergarments, and dampening the hooves of his dancing horse — was advocating the dismantling of Fema. (Federal Emergency Management Agency.) Scrap it, thundered Romney on the campaign trail last year. Disasters should be managed by individual states. He even suggested privatising emergency response units — like what, Hurricanes R Us?

Romney has not mentioned any of this since the storm the size of mainland Europe began annihilating the east coast of America. Funny that.

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

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