Posts Tagged 'Sandy'

Ellis Island is Finally Reopening

Starting next week, Ellis Island will finally be open to the public again. A short distance away from the Statue of Liberty, from 1892 to 1954 the island was the place where around 10.5 million immigrants first stepped foot in America. It was there that new immigrants from the Old World would land and go through the necessary legal process of getting American citizenship which back then only took a few hours. The immigration station closed in 1954, was made part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1966, and is now a museum dedicated to the important role immigration played in America’s history.

Ellis Island was closed off to the general public last year after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in New York Harbor. Of all of the historical places in the area Ellis Island probably got the worst of Sandy’s wrath. For comparison, Liberty Island was able to reopen in time for the Fourth of July this year. Thankfully many of the museum’s artifacts were removed and safely stored prior to the hurricane hitting but even a year later the damage has not been fully repaired yet. Why then is the island reopening? I think it has to do with timing and money. Next week will be both the one-year anniversary of Sandy hitting and the 127th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty being dedicated which would make it a good time to coordinate the reopening. The financial reason is that both the park and the ferries have had a brutal year financially. The number of people visiting Liberty and Ellis Islands are less than half of the number of people that visited in 2012. For all of those reasons Ellis Island is now back up and running and ready to accept more people to its shores again.

Notice how they’re both on the New Jersey side of the river though.

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Using Sand To Save Us From Another Sandy

You may not know it by looking at the weather forecasts but the North Atlantic is right in the middle of hurricane season. While places like Florida are very aware of this and have been for decades, residents of New York and New Jersey have new found reasons for concern during hurricane season. Prior to Irene in 2011 the last hurricane to come within 150 miles of New York City was all the way back in 1986. Now that we’re almost a year away from the wrath of Sandy questions are arising about what can be done to make any future hurricanes less destructive. There have been proposals for dams blocking off all of New York harbor, but the easiest and cheapest solution to be implemented has been sand dunes, and they have worked incredibly well.

The town of Ortley Beach on the Jersey Shore was one of the worst hit areas from Sandy. Many of the residences there were damaged beyond repair and still to this day most of the damage done still hasn’t been repaired. However, if you go a few miles south on Route 35 you will be in the town of Midland Beach which escaped Sandy mostly unscathed. Only one home saw any significant water damage there. The difference between the widespread destruction in Ortley Beach and the lack there of in Midway Beach can be attributed to sand dunes. Midway Beach’s sand dunes were started decades ago to avoid what residents considered a nuisance. Sand from the beach was being blown into the streets and residents were tired of having to clean it up. The 25 foot dunes were built up to keep the streets clean but decades later they ended up saving the homes of almost everyone.

So how does one build up such a defense on the shore? For a dune to form it needs to have some kind of anchor for the sand. That role is being filled by picket fencing and discarded Christmas trees. What is also needed are plants for the top of the dunes to keep them in place. The interesting thing for species of beach grass is that they will grow higher as the dunes grow. planting them now when the dunes are small will ensure that they have deeper roots to keep more sand where it is supposed to be. The biggest thing that a strong dune system needs though is time. They work best when the ocean wind builds them up naturally instead of just dumping a big pile of sand at the beach and calling it a day. I sincerely hope that we don’t get another storm like Sandy ever again but we shouldn’t be naive enough to forget the lessons it taught us. Through intelligent long-term planning and investments in things like dunes, we can prevent a great deal of destruction the next time we’re in the path of a hurricane.

I don’t want the Jersey Shore looking like this ever again.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available in New Jersey, New York, and Nationwide. For more information please contact us at 866-255-0593 or

Hurricane Sandy and the Death of the Landline

One of the many lessons that Hurricane sandy taught New York and New Jersey is that much of its public infrastructure is very old and outdated. One of the reasons why Sandy caused so many power outages for example was because falling trees knocked down power lines which would not have been a problem if our power lines were underground. This weekend we learned of yet another development in the rebuilding after Sandy. In many of the hardest hit areas copper-based landline service isn’t returning. The reason is more a lack of supply rather than a lack of demand. Companies that used to specialize in manufacturing the necessary infrastructure for landlines have since gone out of business or have been bought out and exited the landline market. In many cases many of the most important pieces that service providers need to rebuild are only available on eBay.

This goes to show you that the wider markets are favoring wireless over wired communications. About 36 percent of Americans now live in cell-phone only households ditching landline service altogether. Verizion, which is the largest telecom provider in the Sandy affected areas, has reported a 67 percent drop in the number of landline customers they have had since 2000. The solution that they have come up for these areas is a service called VoiceLink which is a box that customers can install in their homes and provides basic phone service. However, that box connects to Verizon’s wireless network instead of any copper landline. While this is a workable solution for phone service it’s important to keep in mind that it only provides phone service and not internet access. I think a story like this underscores the speed at which our communications technology is changing and how communications infrastructure that for decades was considered absolutely critical has reached a point where it can’t even be replaced when natural disasters destroy it.

Fire Island, NY will likely never have a real landline ever again.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available in New Jersey, New York, and Nationwide. For more information please contact us at 866-255-0593 or

The Dangers of Portable Generators

I was left without power for a week following Superstorm Sandy last year and the biggest thing I took away from that experience was that we don’t realize how much we depend on electricity until it’s taken away from us. A new survey recently revealed that only half of Americans say that they feel prepared to deal with an extended power outage. Typically the most widely felt effect of natural disasters are widespread power outages and the time to prepare for such a possibility is well before disaster is imminent. One of the most common ways people are responding to the possibility of no power is by buying portable generators to power their homes when the grid is down. That opens up a whole new can of worms that everyone in downstate New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut remembers well:

It’s like 1978 all over again.

Those things aren’t exactly the most fuel efficient engines to begin with and keeping those generators running required standing in line for hours in the cold at a gas station that may or may not have gas by the time you get to the front of the line. There was another problem with generators that was far more serious though. Seventeen people died in the aftermath of Sandy from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by using generators improperly and generators have been responsible for more than 500 deaths since 2005. First of all, powering up a generator indoors or in any enclosed space might as well be a death sentence. Even operating the generator outdoors could be dangerous if it is located too close to an open window, vent, or door could cause CO levels to rise to lethal levels. The conclusion is that if you feel that you must have a generator make absolutely sure that you’re using it safely and also invest in some battery powered carbon monoxide detectors just in case. They just may save your life.

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Sandy’s aftermath: How you can help offers important information regarding Sandy’s aftermath: How you can help.

As you know, the Northeastern coast and inland areas including parts of New Jersey and New York City, are dealing with unprecedented devastation. Having seen firsthand the havoc this storm has caused and continues to cause, we urge you if you are in a position to help out any of the organizations listed, please do so.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available in New York City and other cities Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

Photo courtesy of: Adam Hunger/Reuters