One month after a perfect storm slammed into the eastern seaboard, I think we’re all still taking in the staggering extent of the disruption and devastation.
The scope of the storm was enough to grab attention all by itself. Rain and wind bands that extended as far west as Indiana gave the Ohio Valley a rare opportunity to taste hurricane violence without even leaving home.
But that was nothing compared to watching the sea swallow miles of New York and New Jersey real estate.
The photos said it all: LaGuardia airport under 15 feet of water, fire station bays that looked more like sea caves and geysers forcing their way into substations. Even after all of the boats are lifted off of train tracks and the backhoes clear the burned remains of Breezy Point, N.Y., both states will have a long-term project in the replacement of iconic seaside venues that anchored the region’s tourism industry.
2013 holds particular challenges for that region, in addition to the widespread apprehension over whether or not the recession is truly over.
The housing market is beginning to stir. In Northern Indiana, a few dozen companies are have put out the “now hiring” signs, albeit for low-paying jobs. A few others are even lamenting the fact that they’re ready to hire some highly skilled workers, but can’t find enough.
There’s no way we’re out of the woods yet, of course. Budget woes have pushed four California cities into bankruptcy. In Wilkes-Barre, Pa., officials are scaring residents half to death with a proposed 31 percent tax hike for 2013. In Bloomington, Ind., a showdown is brewing between the city, which is attempting to bump up parking revenue by installing smart parking meters, and the financially strapped downtown merchants who can’t afford any more obstacles to customers’ affection.
There is usually a good of deal money to be made in international markets, and many U.S. businesses do just that. But according to city personnel who reporter Dani Molnar talked with this month, the municipalities that are the most optimistic about the new year are those whose economic well-being depends on local commerce.
It looks like the American economy might be starting to get its act together. Let’s hope so. Our cities depend on that being priority No. 1.