President and Chief Creative Content Officer for TheBlaze Joel Cheatwood is based in the NYC office. This morning, Joel joined Glenn on radio to update him on the ramifications of Hurricane Sandy to the New York City area, and the future implications it could have on the election.
Like most event that occur overnight like this, it's hard to know what the damage level in until the light of day. And, as Joel confirmed, that was the case with the widespread devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
Joel described how small communities up and down the New Jersey coastline were absolutely devastated.
"I just watched the police chief of a little town in New Jersey, Seaside Heights break down on the air because he's been up all night rescuing people. But he said, my town is devastated. He said 'my town is devastated'. And he related having rescued 25 people overnight, and he himself operating in a five‑ton vehicle. They call it a deuce, almost being swept out to sea. He said, 'I thought he was going to lose my own life'. But he said, 'I go around my town and it's just gone'. And we're seeing that more and more," Joel explained. "We're hearing reports of people trapped in their homes in waist‑deep water with no power. We're not going to know the full extent of this for a very long time. But, you know, we do know we have six and a half million people without power in the Tri‑State area back here and just a lot of devastation."
Everyone in and around the storm area, and even those just looking at pictures and video of the aftermath, are all saying the same thing: "We've never seen anything like this."
The NYC area is the media's hometown, so the coverage of this event is going to be intensive. Unlike most communities, gas prices and shortages won't play a huge factors because many don't own cars or drive. But, as the water recedes and people return home and see the damage, stories will be unfolding.
"How does this play out, you think?" Glenn asked Joel. "What are we looking at in the ‑‑ are we looking at Katrina? Are we look at less than Katrina? What are we looking at?"
"I think that you're going to ‑‑ I think we're going to see this play closer to Katrina. I think you're going to see as the day progresses more and more stories of loss of life, certainly devastation in terms of infrastructures, of towns," Joel answered.
"You know, Manhattan they still don't know what the full damage assessment's going to be because they can't get into the subway tunnels yet. But they do know that there is standing water. You've got an entire metropolis that is completely shut down. I mean, I think that this will probably rank in the books in terms of dollars and maybe loss of life as one of the most expensive catastrophes to hit this country. And I think again it will unfold as the day goes on."
While Mayor Bloomberg did a good job alerting the public of the storm, and closed the subway system early to get people out in the event of flooding, it's likely that many lost their lives down there. Glenn, who lived in the city for a long time, explained how people live in the subway.
" The loss of life that may never be counted of the people who live in those subways who didn't get necessarily the warning until they started to hear that there were no trains and wondered, what, why are there no trains, I'll bet you ‑‑ I'll bet you hundreds of people lost their lives that you will never ‑‑ you may never even know because of the people that live in the subway systems."
As much as the focus is (and should continue) to be on the victims of the storm and the best way to provide help to those who need it, the election is only a week away. With power out to millions, widespread devastation, there will be a political impact from Hurricane Sandy.
"How is this do you think going to play out for the president?"
"Well…you've got a huge section of the country that is now going to have to figure out how they start up business again, how they start up just operating in the normal course. And we've got an election a week away. I'm going to be very curious to see how they resolve that," Joel answered. "I mean, you've got polling places at the very least that have been wiped out, you've got people who will have no access to power or transportation for maybe up to two weeks or more. You know, how we conduct an election given these circumstances is going to be really interesting to see."
Some are saying that FEMA is going to be rebuilding the polling places, which will obviously cause many to lose confidence in the election system.
"If a giant government‑run FEMA truck is controlling the polling place, that's not going to give people confidence," Glenn noted.
"I think there's enough justifiable distrust of FEMA on a variety of levels that that's just going to send shivers down the spine of most people," Joel added.
The biggest concern following the storm, should the election not be postponed, is going to be surrounding Tuesday.
"In the most important election in our country's history arguably, you know, you're going to have millions of people who either won't have access or because of their own personal plight will consider that a secondary priority and, you know, what does that mean?" Joel asked.
As Glenn has shared many times, he belies God is not neutral in man's freedom. Because of that, he believes, if people turn to God and are faithful, this will work out how it is supposed to -- what that is, he's not sure. Glenn shared a conversation he and Joel had yesterday before the worst of the storm rolled through on the timing of the storm and his faith.
"We were both saying, look, I know God's will will be done, one way or another. And I don't presume to know God's will and I don't think God ‑‑ you know, God doesn't bring the storms on to punish people or anything like that," Glenn emphasized, "but I can't figure out divine providence because I know God's not neutral in the freedom of man. And I don't know how ‑‑ I mean, divine providence will play a role in this election. That's the only thing that's going to save us. And I can't figure out how this one ‑‑ I mean, this is really take your hands off the wheel, gang, and just live your life and do the right thing because God only knows how this is going to turn out with this hurricane thing now."
"This is one of those supreme examples of a time where I, for the life of me, common sense doesn't play into it, logic doesn't play into it, and I keep reminding myself that there is a much bigger picture that's held by God," Joel responded.
Joel later added that, he continues to remind himself to relax in the fact that God's will is perfection, and that it's okay if he can't figure it out.
"This is such a definitive event, and the timing is so incredible, that you know there's a plan," he told Glenn. "There has to be."