Now that the storm's immediate impact on most of the East Coast has already occurred, we are in the second disaster phase of the hurricane, Rachel Maddow said on Tuesday night. Unlike the first phase of extreme rain and wind, this second phase is the reality of hundreds of thousands of people living without power or running water, with no end in sight. "Today is the start of a new disaster," said Maddow.
The sheer scale of the problem is staggering; in New York City alone, the number of people without power exceeds the population of Vermont.
New Jersey, one of the states most affected by the storm, is the most densely populated state in the union. New York City is also very densely packed, and that amount of people living together "is only possible because of the intensely used infrastructure, infrastructure that allows this place to support this much life," said Maddow. One of the crucial components of that infrastructure, the New York City subway system, is completely shut down after facing the worst disaster in its 108-year history.
But as New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said on Tuesday's The Rachel Maddow Show, anticipating the storm allowed the city to prepare, saving billions of dollars and ensuring that blacked out areas will regain electricity earlier.
"The decision to stop the subway from running gave us the ability to move all the machinery out of the tunnel to higher ground, so the vast majority of the machinery was not damaged in the storm—that's an enormous, enormous difference," said Quinn. "Powering down the steam facilities will save that equipment...that long-term thinking is going to save us not just money but allow us to get up and running much more quickly."