November 5, 2012
Eleven years, one month, three weeks and five days ago I stood on West Street in southern Manhattan and watched many hundreds of people murdered, as a gray avalanche of concrete, glass and steel poured forth from a disintegrating tower to the street below. The 9/11 attacks changed everything, for all time, and we all felt it instantaneously.
Superstorm Sandy delivers a message first heard on Sept. 11, 2001: New York, as a proxy for the United States, is unprepared for anticipated 21st century threats.
The storm is different. Sandy elicits no moral shock of war, no blinding national insult, “no unified, unifying, Pearl Harbor sort of purple American fury,” as a columnist put it in Time magazine after 9/11. Instead we’re up against something much more elusive, an enemy we’re much more poorly equipped to deal with than sleeper terrorist cells: the Earth.