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November 5th, 2012
08:02 PM ET

Piers Morgan on Superstorm Sandy: "Our office lights began to flicker, and our building...was shaking and rattling like a cupboard full of steel skeletons"

Fresh off the digital press Piers Morgan has filed a new diary entry for the "Daily Mail" and in this post he shares his unique first-hand perspective on Superstorm Sandy, the recent weather event that wrought havoc of much of the United States' Eastern seaboard.

Having experienced his fair share of extreme meteorological conditions since moving to America, Morgan fancied himself as a man who'd seen it all, everything from extreme cold as part of a Chicago winter, to the melting heat associated with a Las Vegas summer. But nothing, not the Midwest, not the desert, and
not even earthquakes in Los Angeles or a tornado in Texas could prepare the Brit for what he experienced in New York one week ago:

"The rain started around midday, and the clouds darkened rapidly. I took a cab to CNN’s bureau at the Time Warner Centre, on the south-west corner of Central Park in Midtown Manhattan, around 2 p.m. and made my way to my seventh-floor office. An hour after I arrived, an enormous noise that sounded like a thunderclap boomed out. I ran to the window, and saw that an 80-ton crane on top of a skyscraper 500 yards away (a building called One57, which will be New York’s tallest residential tower at 90 storeys) had buckled, and the top of it was now dangling precariously over the densely populated streets below."

Having hunkered down inside the network's New York bureau, Morgan's feeling of safety became fleeting:

"As the afternoon wore on, our office lights began to flicker, and our building – one of the biggest, newest and supposedly strongest multi-skyscraper edifices in America – was shaking and rattling like a cupboard full of steel skeletons. Rain and wind lashed the windows with ominous velocity, and by 9 p.m., when I went live on air, the full force of the hurricane had descended on the city."

While Morgan hosted a live, one-hour program dedicated entirely to the storm, Sandy's wrath grew by the minute:

"More than 14 feet of water surged onto the mainland at the southern tip of Manhattan, swamping the subway system and flooding the streets so badly that cars began floating away. House facades were ripped off, fires erupted as power lines collapsed (100 homes in Queens were destroyed by one blaze alone,) and 7,000 trees smashed down (in a few tragic cases, onto people). I interviewed numerous ashen-faced governors and mayors from all over the East Coast of America, all of whom said it was the worst storm they’d ever seen. Sandy was no ordinary hurricane."

Despite the fact that by Hurricane standards Sandy paled in comparison to the likes of Katrina (Cat. 1 vs. Cat. 5,) additional weather elements combined with the storm itself to create a dangerous pattern of events:

"It collided with an unusually early winter storm coming from the West and fierce Arctic air coming from the north, and it hit New York at the precise moment the city had a high tide and full moon. It was a perfect storm of hell. In fact, tonight I interviewed Sebastian Junger, who wrote the book The Perfect Storm, which became the George Clooney movie, and he explained why this was even worse than the 1991 monster he dramatized. ‘Sandy came ashore,’ he said. ‘My storm didn’t. Big difference. I anchored a second live hour for CNN at midnight, by which time Sandy was on the rampage through Long Island, the beach area of New York – wreaking havoc everywhere it went. The sheer scale of the damage was almost unbelievable."

After nearly 12 hours of news gathering, and two-plus hours of on-air coverage, Morgan checked out of CNN, and checked in with the outside world:

"I left the office at 1am, to walk one block to the hotel where I was staying for the night. The wind was still strong and it was raining, but there was an eerie kind of calm to the sky now. Sandy had burst through central Manhattan and was now driving on to other areas. From my 40th-floor hotel-room window, I looked down over Manhattan and saw a city of two halves – the lower half, Downtown, was plunged into almost total darkness. The upper half, from around 40th Street on, still had power. I turned on CNN to see shocking scenes from the NYU hospital on the Lower East Side, where the back-up generator had (shamefully – they’d had a week to prepare for this) failed, and mothers with newborn babies were being ferried on makeshift respirators down ten flights of stairs to other hospitals on higher ground. Atlantic City looked almost completely submerged in parts (one of our guys was now reporting from a main boardwalk street, up to his waist in seawater), and New Jersey was even worse. Power was down in over two million homes, and a desperate search under way for survivors. I finally went to sleep at 3 a.m., feeling shell-shocked."

Able to sleep barely three hours, the "Piers Morgan Tonight" host rose from that shell-shocked slumber, and being the self-proclaimed "news-junkie" that he is, he immediately checked in on the destruction left in the wake of what's since been classified as the worst storm in New York City's history:

"Two million homes are without power on the East Coast, parts of the subway may be out for a week, all airports and schools are closed for at least two days, the Stock Exchange is shut for a second day, and the death toll is rising by the hour," he learned first thing that day.

"But it could have been so much worse. I’ve been incredibly impressed by the way the authorities have handled this disaster – before, during and after it. At every stage everyone was made fully aware of exactly what was likely to happen, and what they should do about it. Politicians, from President Obama down, rose to the occasion, admirably."

Now safe to take to the Manhattan streets, the 47-year-old English transplant ventured back to his apartment, noting along the way that many had attempted to return to their normal routines:

"I walked home at 9 a.m. in mild conditions. New Yorkers were back out walking their dogs, jogging and doing everything they’d usually be doing on a Tuesday morning, except getting a drink from Starbucks, which remained closed. As we saw after 9/11, they breed ’em tough in New York.
I arrived back at my flat to see that trees had fallen onto almost all the cars in the road (I don’t have one – there’s no point driving in New York). But all the damage we’d suffered was a broken flowerpot, one we didn’t like anyway. We were the lucky ones."

For more of Morgan's musings, and to hear additional details of his face-to-face encounter with Superstorm Sandy, read the entire article here.
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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Rosa M

    Gov Chris Christie has made it very clear about his support for Presidant Obama. He moved away from Romney, like Romney moved away from Bush and Chaniey.
    I am Hispanic and I am voting for Obama.

    November 5, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. kV Harrison

    How about sending an out-of-service cruise ship for the hundreds upon hundreds victims. There would be climate controlled rooms. And cruise ships have the big kitchens to feed them.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. mr.keith reed

    Mr. Pierce, it amazing you did not notice, first election result reporter said, quote its à tie 5 votes for Barack Hussian Obama and 5 votes for Gov Romney, shame on you. The President of the United is Mr. Obama, but you adresse Gov Romney. I thought better of you. Sign an American

    November 6, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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