weathering the historic storm: welcome to the new normal

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The Flying North International headquarters are located in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City – smack in the middle of the path of Hurricane Sandy and well within the “no power” zone. As the joke goes, we now all live in a new area of the city known as “SoPo” or “South of Power.” :-/

For five full days, no one in Manhattan below 39th Street had power, and the world’s most extensive 24 hour transportation system was brought to a standstill. All New York City airports were closed, grounding tens of thousands of travelers, and the New York City Marathon and Village Halloween Parade were cancelled.

For those of you who have been living under a rock over the past week, Hurricane Sandy was a tropical cyclone that severely affected portions of the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States. In diameter, it was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, with winds spanning 1,100 miles [1,800 km]. It is likely to become the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane in history, behind only Hurricane Katrina. Sandy was the 6th hurricane to hit the New England area in the history of the USA, after a 74 year hiatus following the 1938 New England Hurricane.

In the United States, Hurricane Sandy affected at least 24 states, from Florida to Maine, with tropical storm force winds stretching far inland and mountain snows in West Virginia. The cyclone brought a destructive storm surge to New York City on the evening of October 29, flooding numerous streets, tunnels and subway lines in Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, Coney Island, the Rockaways and other areas of the city and cutting off electricity to parts of the city and its suburbs, especially Zone A areas near waterways which were issued evacuation orders. Flying North is located very close to Zone A.

A downtown refugee in a midtown hotel, I spoke to many stranded travelers from all over the world as they stared at the multiple instances of the word “cancelled” on the flight board at the hotel. While Sandy created quite a hardship for many, the majority of those I spoke to also understood the historic significance of the storm, and were, in a strange way, humbled to be a part of such an historic event and to be in solidarity with New Yorkers. This would be a travel experience like no other, and one that they would recount for years.

Whatever your position on the causes of Global Warming, the reality is that the planet is warming and that storms such as Sandy are becoming more frequent. These type of events will increasingly add additional variables to global travel planning. Along with last year’s Hurricane Irene, New York City has seen two 100-year events within two years. The city is already talking about building levees to keep flood waters out.

Welcome to the new normal.

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jt
jt is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Italy and has a Masters in International Relations. He has traveled to all seven continents and one hundred countries and is quite fond of a good cappuccino.

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