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When Hurricane Sandy Pounded USA, I Was in Ellicott City, Maryland!


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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When Hurricane Sandy, unofficially known as the “Superstorm Sandy“, devastated the United States in October 2012, I was in Ellicott City in Maryland.

Hurricane Sandy was the second-costliest hurricane in the history of the United States. It was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It all began on October 22, 2012.

A Timeline of Hurricane Sandy’s Path of Destruction
Monday, October 22, 2012

Developing in the southern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Nicaragua as a tropical easterly wave causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms, The depression strengthened and six hours later becomes Tropical Storm Sandy, with maximum winds of about 40 mph. It moved slowly northward toward the Greater Antilles and gradually intensified.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On October 24, Sandy became a  Category 1 hurricane, moved northward across the Caribbean and made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica with winds of 80 mph.

Although Hurricane Sandy’s eye does not cross the Dominican Republic and Haiti to its east, the storm dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Hispaniola. More than 50 people died in flooding and mudslides in Haiti.

A few hours later, it re-emerged into the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane. Off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km).

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Detailed map compiled by NOAA on October 25, 2012, that shows the track of Hurricane Sandy (Source: gowally.com)
Detailed map compiled by NOAA on October 25, 2012, that shows the track of Hurricane Sandy (Source: gowally.com)

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Sandy strengthened as it moved from Jamaica to Cuba and made landfall in the historic city of Santiago de Cuba with winds of about 110 mph as a Category 3 hurricane.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sandy caused more devastation as it crossed the Bahamas and made a slight turn to the north-northwest.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sandy moved away from the Bahamas and made a turn to the northeast off the coast of Florida. Sandy weakened for a brief period to a tropical depression and then restrengthened to a Category 1 hurricane.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy continued moving northeast on a track parallel to the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. As it approached latitude 35 degrees north off the coast of North Carolina, the hurricane’s eye stayed well offshore. Even then, the storm still a Category 1 hurricane with peak winds of about 80 mph sent powerful tsunami-like waves onto North Carolina’s Outer Banks washing out some places in NC Highway 12.

Due to an unusual configuration of converging weather factors, meteorologists warned that the storm as it churns northward would likely morph into a powerful, hybrid super-storm.

A high-pressure cold front to Sandy’s north forced the storm to turn to the north-west toward major cities such as Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and New York. And the meteorologists expected that in conjunctions with the effects of the full moon Sandy’s storm to surge up to 11 to 12 feet in some places and a little higher as it made landfall.

Sandy expanded into a huge storm covering about 1,000 miles with strong winds.

Monday, October 29, 2012
This satellite image from NOAA shows Sandy on the morning of October 29, 2012 as it was about to begin its approach to the coast of New Jersey (Source: voices.nationalgeographic.com)
This satellite image from NOAA shows Sandy on the morning of October 29, 2012 as it was about to begin its approach to the coast of New Jersey (Source: voices.nationalgeographic.com)

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At 12:30 pm, Sandy made its expected sharp turn. It curved west-northwest (the “left turn” or “left hook”) and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds. The storm also has started interacting with other weather systems, gaining energy in the process. The storm dumped heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

During the afternoon, Sandy brought high winds and drenching rains from Washington, D.C. northward, toppling trees and power lines and cutting off electrical power for millions of people. The storm eventually affected more than 50 million people on the Eastern Seaboard.

At 8 pm, Sandy’s centre came ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey. The storm was no longer considered a hurricane but classified as a post-tropical Nor’easter. But the storm’s unusual path from the south-east made its storm surge much worse in New Jersey and New York.

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The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is flooded after a tidal surge caused by Hurricane Sandy, on October 30, 2012 in Manhattan, New York. The storm has claimed at least 39 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel iflooded after a tidal surge caused by Hurricane Sandy, on October 30, 2012, in Manhattan, New York. The storm has claimed at least 39 lives in the United States and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

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A high storm surge, a coastal flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water occurred in New York City with a high tide of 14 ft (4.2 m),  a new record for a storm surge in the harbor, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. The surge tops the sea wall at The Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and floods parts of the city’s subway system. The surge also floods the Hugh Carey Tunnel, which links Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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Spooky gray NYC skyline
Spooky gray NYC skyline

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The wind, rain and flooding from the huge storm pounded New Jersey and New York throughout the night and through three cycles of high tides and low tides.

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Tanker John B Caddell beached on Front Street, Staten Island (Photo: Jim Henderson)
Tanker John B Caddell beached on Front Street, Staten Island (Photo: Jim Henderson)

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Staten Island also was hit very hard by the storm. The Seattle Times later reported that towns such as Oakwood Beach, Midland Beach, South Beach and Tottenville — which lost many residents who were police and firefighters during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — were among the hardest-hit communities.

When I look back, I remember posting several times on Facebook on 29th and 30th October 2012 about Hurricane Sandy to benefit my friends and readers in the United States and to assure my kith and Kin in India that my family was safe:

7:00 am EDT:
From the Carolinas to Maine, Hurricane Sandy will affect 50 million people.

Hurricane Sandy is churning off the East Coast and is expected to join up with two other weather systems to create a huge and problematic storm affecting 50 million people. Here’s a snapshot of what is happening or expected, state by state.
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 CAROLINAS
The storm lashed barrier islands off North Carolina and rendered several homes and businesses nearly inaccessible. About 90 miles off the coast, a tall ship carrying 17 people was in distress; the Coast Guard was monitoring.
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CONNECTICUT
The number of power outages increased quickly in a state where utilities’ response to past weather-related failures has become a political issue. Connecticut Light & Power says hundreds of customers are without power. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked a task force to make sure fuel suppliers are fully stocked. Many residents along Long Island Sound heeded warnings and evacuated.

DELAWARE
Hundreds of people fled to shelters as the rough surf pounded the coast. Water covered some roads.

KENTUCKY
Snow is expected in mountainous areas.

MAINE
Officials predict coastal flooding and beach erosion, and utility crews have been brought in from Canada to handle anticipated power failures.

MARYLAND
Baltimore is opening six shelters; several city intersections are closed because of flooding threats. Early voting, which began Saturday and was to run through Thursday, was canceled for Monday.

MASSACHUSETTS
Utilities brought in crews from as far away as Texas and the Midwest to cope with anticipated power failures. Most schools and colleges have canceled classes. The Boston transit authority said it would continue to operate as long it was safe.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Gov. John Lynch put 100 National Guard soldiers on active duty to help with preparations. Two shelters are being set up, and some schools have closed.

NEW JERSEY
Sandy’s center is expected to make landfall in New Jersey late Monday. By daybreak, more than 5,000 homes and businesses were without electricity. Thousands of people evacuated low-lying areas, and many inland towns hit by flooding from storm Irene last year issued evacuation orders.

NEW YORK
Many residents left low-lying flood evacuation zones, and the subway system shut down Sunday night. A storm surge of 11 feet is possible, the highest of all coastal areas being hit by Sandy. The New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial markets shut down for at least the day. Thousands of flights were canceled at the city’s major airports.

OHIO
Residents of low-lying areas and along Lake Erie were told to watch for flooding; utilities are anticipating high winds that could blow down trees and poles. Snow is forecast in some areas.

PENNSYLVANIA
Many schools closed. Philadelphia shut down its mass transit system, and hundreds of flights were canceled at the city’s airport. Dozens of people took shelter at evacuation centers. Thousands of members of the National Guard have been told to be ready for deployment.

RHODE ISLAND
Several communities have ordered mandatory evacuations and many schools closed for the day. Big waves are expected to cause flooding along Narragansett Bay, which bisects the state. Authorities told people to be prepared for long periods without power.

TENNESSEE
Snow is expected in higher elevations, where a freeze warning has been issued. High winds are expected in many areas.

VIRGINIA
About 2,000 customers lacked power, and a utility said as many as 1 million could ultimately lose electricity. Many residents of Chincoteague Island, popular with tourists, shrugged off the idea of evacuation.

VERMONT
Gov. Peter Shumlin declared a state of emergency to provide access to National Guard troops in a state still recovering from the devastating effects of the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Culverts and storm drainage basins in some spots have been cleared of debris.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
The capital area’s transit system shut down rail service for the first time since 2003, and the Smithsonian Institution closed for the day.

WEST VIRGINIA
As much as 2 to 3 feet of snow were forecast in mountainous areas, and flooding was possible in some areas. Several shelters were put on standby, and power crews were mobilized to handle potential failures.

3:30 pm EDT:
Here in Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed is 41 mph NW. Not menacing at the moment.

3:40 pm EDT:
Landfall for Sandy within 3 hours time near Atlantic City, New Jersey shore with a wind speed of 90 mph in the center. The system moves at 18 mph.

8:40 pm EDT:
In Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed has risen to 49 mph WNW.
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8:54 pm EDT:
Sandy landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm.
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9:00 pm EDT:
Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 11.87 feet high. Water might enter NYC subway. Trains and buses won’t run on Tuesday (tomorrow).
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9:30 pm EDT:
Waters from Hudson river has breached the Manhattan Broadwalk. Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 13.7 feet high. MTA confirms that the subways are flooded.

1.5 million homes experience power outages in many states. In Maryland, 195,000 homes are without electric power. We have still not been hit by a power cut.

9:45 pm EDT:
Power surges, outages and flashes being experienced in the New York City area. Everything is dark over there. Manhattan is in darkness as well as the Statue of Liberty.

10:47 pm EDT:
All bridges were closed for traffic. Chesapeake Bay Bridge that connects Baltimore-DC area with the northern parts of Maryland such as Kent Island too was closed for traffic around 4 pm.

10:55 pmEDT:
Sandy is still on its way towards us playing havoc with everything in its path.

Sandy had its landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm. Ellicott City, MD is about 210 miles from the landfall area. The system is moving around 20 to 25 mph and I expect it to come here on Tuesday (tomorrow) morning around 6 am EDT.

Tuesday , October 30, 2012

2:10 am EDT:
Hurricane Sandy plays havoc: Widespread Power outages have occurred in all the north-eastern and eastern states. In Maryland, 391,005 homes are experiencing power cut.

2:15 am EDT:
Sandy is 10 miles southwest of Philadephia, PA.

10:50 am EDT:
Sandy has passed us. We did not incur any damages. We did not lose any power.

I thank you all for praying for us.

However, my heart bleeds for those who have suffered and are undergoing hardships due to the havoc created by this “Frankenstorm” called SANDY.

11:00 am EDT:
Sandy: The loss to properties has been assessed between 10 and 20 billion dollars.

11:30 am EDT:
Sandy slammed New Jersey last night and early morning today. At least 16 deaths reported. Massive flooding, high winds, and widespread power outages hit the East Coast as Sandy moves inland.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy dissipated over western Pennsylvania, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its final advisory on the storm: “multiple centers of circulation in association with the remnants of Sandy can be found across the lower Great Lakes.”

Aftermath

Click on this line or the photo below to see photos of the effects of Hurricane Sandy. 

People scavenging for food in a dumpster where a Key Food supermarket has discarded spoiled food, due to power outages after Hurricane Sandy hit New York (Photo: Mr. Choppers)
People scavenging for food in a dumpster where a Key Food supermarket has discarded spoiled food, due to power outages after Hurricane Sandy hit New York (Photo: Mr. Choppers)

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FoxNews: $100 bills from a secret Santa rain down on Sandy-hit New York, New Jersey


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    Nov. 29, 2012: Charlotte Muhammad holds up two $100 dollar bills she got from Secret Santa, at St. Joseph’s Social Service Center in Elizabeth, N.J. (AP)

  • Secret Santa_Angu (1).jpg

    Nov. 29, 2012: A woman hugs Secret Santa after receiving a $100 dollar bill from the wealthy philanthropist from Kansas City, Mo. Secret Santa distributed $100 dollar bills to needy people at St. Joseph’s Social Service Center and other locations in Elizabeth, N.J. (AP)

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    Nov. 29, 2012: A woman is surprised after Secret Santa gave her a $100 dollar bill while looking for clothes at the Salvation Army store in the boro of Staten Island, New York, N.Y. (AP)

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NEW YORK –  A wealthy Missouri man posing as “Secret Santa” stunned New Yorkers on Thursday, handing $100 bills to many in Staten Island who had lost everything to Superstorm Sandy.

The Kansas City businessman is giving away $100,000 this holiday season, and spent the day in New Jersey and New York giving away thousands. But he says money is not the issue.

“The money is not the point at all,” said the anonymous benefactor as he walked up to surprised Staten Island residents and thrust crisp bills into their hands. “It’s about the random acts of kindness. I’m just setting an example, and if 10 percent of the people who see me emulate what I’m doing, anybody can be a Secret Santa!”

A police motorcade with sirens took him across the borough, passing a church ripped from its foundations and homes surrounded by debris. At a nearby disaster center run by volunteers, a woman quietly collected free food and basic goods.

“Has anyone given you any money?” he asked her.

“No,” replied Carol Hefty, a 72-year-old retiree living in a damaged home.

“Here,” he said, slipping the money into her hand.

“But this isn’t real money!” said Hefty, glancing at the red “Secret Santa” stamped onto the $100.

“It is, and it’s for you,” he tells her.

She breaks down weeping and hugs him.

And so it went, again and again.

Secret Santa started his day long East Coast visit with stops in Elizabeth, N.J. Keeping close watch over the cash handouts were his security entourage — police officers in uniform from New York and New Jersey, plus FBI agents and former agents from various states. Some have become supporters, wearing red berets marked with the word “elf” and assisting “Santa” to choose locations where people are most in need. He himself wears an “elf” beret and a red top, plus blue jeans.

The group must choose stops carefully, and refrain from simply appearing outdoors in a neighborhood, lest they be mobbed by people hearing that cash is being handed out.

At a stop at a Staten Island Salvation Army store, one woman is looking over a $4 handbag. “But you get $100!” he tells her, offering the bill.

“Are you serious?” said Prudence Onesto, her eyes widening. “Really?”

“Secret Santa,” he deadpans, breaking into a broad grin.

The 55-year-old unemployed woman opened her arms and offered him a hug.

An aisle over, 41-year-old Janice Kennedy is overwhelmed: She received four $100 bills.

Unemployed with a 2-year-old daughter, she lost her home in the storm and lives with her boyfriend. The money will go toward Christmas presents and her toddler’s next birthday.

“You’re not alone. God bless you!” the Missouri stranger tells Phillip and Lisa Morris, a couple in their 30s whose home was badly damaged — but now had an extra $300 in cash for rebuilding.

Secret Santa took up the holiday tradition from a close Kansas City friend, Larry Stewart, who for years handed out bills to unsuspecting strangers in thrift stores, food pantries and shelters. Stewart died in 2007 after giving away more than $1 million to strangers each December in mostly $100 bills.

The current Secret Santa will not divulge his name. Nor does he allow his face to be photographed. But he said he’s been to cities across America, from San Diego to Chicago to Charlotte, N.C.

A reporter asked whether he might be a sort of Warren Buffett of Kansas City. He smiled mysteriously and said only that he admires Buffett for his philanthropy. “And I hope I give all my money away before I die.”

Then, as suddenly as he arrived, the generous stranger left for the airport and home, riding in the volunteer motorcade he jokingly calls “my sleigh,” zipping with ease through red lights and city traffic.

Source: FOXNEWS.COM

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Solar Power Is a Bargain …


After Hurricane Sandy put people, power, and nuclear reactors at risk along the east coast of the US- renewable energy’s economic as well as environmental benefits eliminate even more reasons not to move forward to safe energy. – Dr Helen Caldicott

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New Study Finds that Solar Power Is a Bargain for Ratepayers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

BORDENTOWN, N.J., Nov. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ —

The Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA) and the Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association (PASEIA) today released a study by consulting firm Clean Power Research showing that solar power in New Jersey and Pennsylvania delivers value to the electricgrid that exceeds its cost by a large margin, making it a bargain for energy consumers.Energy providers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are required to buy certain amounts of solar power each year. They pay a premium for that solar power in the form of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, or SRECs, and pass this premium cost on to ratepayers. The study found that solar power delivers a total levelized value ranging from $256 to $318 per MWh (25.6 cents to 31.8 cents per kWh). However, this includes a premium value in the range of $150 to $200 per MWh (15 cents to 20 cents per kWh), above the value of the solar electricity generated. The SRECs in New Jersey currently cost about $60/MWh (6 cents per KWh), and in Pennsylvania they cost about $20/ MWh (2 cents per KWH).

“This indicates that electric ratepayers in the region are getting more than a two-to-one return on their investment in solar energy,” said Dennis Wilson, President of MSEIA, “Although the current SREC prices are unsustainably low, our analysis indicates that SRECs can increase in price, deliver net benefits and still support strong solar growth. Solar power has proven it can deliver value that exceeds its cost by 50% to over 100%. This net positive benefit will only increase as solar technology continues to drop in cost.”

Clic this link for full text of the report — > “The Value of Distributed Solar Electric Generation to New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“Both states have considered expanded investments in solar energy. This study shows that such programs and policies are well justified from an economic standpoint and generate far more instate jobs than central plant generation. Add together the proven public health, security and environmental benefits, and it’s clear that aggressive solar power development is a win for these states and their residents,” said Lyle Rawlings, Vice President of MSEIA, New Jersey division.

“We are very excited about this study,” said Ron Celentano, President of PASEIA and Pennsylvania VP of MSEIA. “For the first time the solar industry can show the quantitative benefits of implementing solar energy technologies specifically in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more than three years we have been unsuccessful with enhancing our solar share requirement in Pennsylvania, largely because solar was perceived as only a cost to rate payers. But this study concludes that the value of solar far exceeds the costs to both the rate payer and taxpayer.”

“Solar PV does not get a fair shake in our current utility accounting protocols because those rules evolved for centralized, large scale power plants,” says Roger Clark, manager of The Reinvestment Fund’s Sustainable Development Fund, a major funder of this study. “We supported this study because it is critical to understand the costs and benefits of solar so that our energy policies, such as Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, are grounded on an accurate perception of the value of solar energy.”

Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania are major solar markets in terms of the amount of solar capacity already installed. Each has great opportunity for continued clean energy industry growth. New Jersey, the nation’s second-largest solar market with 900 MW of solar capacity, is the first state to generate more than 1% of its annual electricity from solar energy. Its annual solar share is now approaching one and a half percent, with contributions during peak demand periods several times higher. Once one of the nation’s fastest growing solar markets, Pennsylvania has since fallen to eighth place in installed capacity. Increasing the state’s near- term solar commitment would put Pennsylvania solar growth back on track.

According to Richard Perez, one of the authors of the study, “This report broke new ground in that it incorporated a wealth of utility power cost data, enabling detailed analysis of economic drivers such as the ‘merit order effect,’ according to which power can have different values depending on when it is generated. Solar energy has inherent advantages stemming from such economic drivers.” Today’s report assessed the value of modest solar penetration (15% of utility peak load) at six locations: Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton, Philadelphia, Newark, Atlantic City, and Jamesburg. Research concluded that by offsetting the need for conventional power, distributed solar power delivers measurable benefits, including:

Lower conventional electricity market prices due to reduced peak demand;

Valuable price hedge from using a free, renewable fuel rather than variably-priced fossil fuels;

Avoided costs of new transmission and distribution infrastructure to manage electricity delivery from centralized power plants;

Reduced need to build, operate and maintain natural gas generating plants;

Reduced outages due to a more reliable, distributed electric power system;

Reduced future costs of mitigating the environmental impacts of coal, natural gas, nuclear, and other generation;

Enhanced tax revenues associated with local job creation, which is higher for solar than conventional power generation.

Prepared by Clean Power Research, the report was funded by the following organizations: The Reinvestment Fund’s Sustainable Development Fund, Mid Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association, Advanced Solar Products, SMA Americas, Vote Solar, Renewable Power, and Geoscape Solar.

About MSEIA

MSEIA, the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association, is a solar energy advocacy trade association which represents over 100 solar companies doing business in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

Established in 1997 by solar energy advocates, MSEIA is an historic and highly-effective non-profit membership organization created to advocate for solar energy incentives, create permanent solar energy jobs and a renewable energy infrastructure, and promote solar energy as a viable and important source of energy for the future. Our efforts in the legislature and with the Board of Public Utilities have been instrumental in helping to create the New Jersey solar industry.

About PASEIA: The Pennsylvania Division of MSEIA. PASEIA is an organization of manufacturers, developers, contractors, installers, architects, engineers, consultants and other industry professionals dedicated to advancing the interests of solar energy and to developing a strong local PA industry offering high quality installation and professional services to business and residential customers in the region we serve.

Dennis Wilson, President of MSEIA dennis@renewablepowerinc.com973-854-9365

Lyle Rawlings, Vice President of MSEIAlyle@advancedsolarproducts.com 908-751-5818

Marianne Leone, Admin for MSEIA info@mseia.net 973-886-0526

SOURCE Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association

Originally published by Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association.

(c) 2012 PRNewswire. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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Several States in the USA now Want To Leave The Union


“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government.”— President Barack Obama

The petition submitted on Friday November 9, 2012 from the State of Texas requests the Obama administration to “Peacefully grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government.”

The petition appeared in the White House website “We the People” that invites users with a U.S. zip code to submit or sign petitions about policy changes they would like to see with the condition that such a petition must reach 25,000 signatures within 30 days, by December 9th, 2012, for the Obama administration to comment on it.

Surprisingly, today at 3:22 p.m., the number of signatures zoomed past the needed 25,000 mark.

When I last checked the page on the White House website “We the People” at 11:00 pm the total signatures on the petition was 50,885.

Here is the text of the petition as displayed in the White House website “We the People”:

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Peacefully grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government.

The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it’s citizens’ standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.

Created: Nov 09, 2012

So far, the president has not commented on the petition and there is no guarantee that he will. The terms of participation give the president some loopholes.

“To avoid the appearance of improper influence, the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government in its response to a petition,” the site says.

At least, 19 other states have submitted similar petitions requesting secession on the “We the People” forum, including Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Click the name of the State to know the current number of signatories to their petition:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arkansas
  3. Colorado
  4. Florida
  5. Georgia
  6. Indiana
  7. Kentucky
  8. Louisiana
  9. Michigan
  10. Mississippi
  11. Missouri
  12. Montana 
  13. New Jersey
  14. New York
  15. North Carolina
  16. North Dakota
  17. Oregon
  18. South Carolina
  19. Tennessee
  20. Texas
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Winter Storm Athena. What’s in a Name?


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Winter Storm Team of The Weather Channel has named the current nor’easter “Winter Storm Athena” – first named winter storm! However, shortly after The Weather Channel announced the name Athena this morning, the National Weather Service office in Bohemia, N.Y., circulated an internal direction to its forecasters not to use The Weather Channel’s name for the Nor’easter storm.

Forecasters predict up to six inches of snowfall combined with winds gusting over 35 mph at times Wednesday afternoon through Thursday mid-morning across portions of Eastern Pennsylvania, including the Philadelphia Metro Area, New Jersey, southeastern New York, Connecticut and interior New England, still undergoing extensive recovery efforts from Sandy.

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Monster storm leaves U.S. East Coast crippled; 30 dead


By Anna Louie Sussman and Michael Erman | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Millions of people were left reeling in the aftermath of monster storm Sandy on Tuesday as New York City and a wide swathe of the eastern United States struggled with epic flooding and massive power outages. The death toll climbed to at least 30.

Sandy, which crashed ashore with hurricane-force winds in New Jersey overnight as the biggest storm to hit the country in generations, swamped parts of New York’s subway system and Manhattan’s Wall Street district, closing financial markets for a second day.

As the weakened but still sprawling storm system continued its trek inland, more than 1 million people in a dozen states along its path were still under orders to evacuate. Sandy left behind a trail of damage – homes underwater, trees toppled and power lines downed – up and down the Atlantic coast.

The storm interrupted the presidential campaign a week before Election Day, giving President Barack Obama an opportunity to look presidential as he oversees the government response. He drew praise from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has been a strong supporter of Obama’s opponent.

“I want everyone leaning forward on this,” an aide quoted Obama as telling his disaster-response team in the White House Situation Room. “I don’t want to hear that we didn’t do something because bureaucracy got in the way.”

Houses and businesses on the New Jersey shore sustained extensive damage from the storm’s onslaught. “The devastation is unthinkable,” Christie told reporters after seeing aerial pictures of the area.

In the storm’s wake, Obama issued federal emergency decrees for New York and New Jersey, declaring that “major disasters” existed in both states. One disaster-forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion (12.4 billion pounds), only half insured.

“Make no mistake about it. This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst we have ever experienced,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

All along the East Coast, residents and business owners awoke to scenes of destruction.

“There are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean,” said evacuee Peter Sandomeno, one of the owners of the Broadway Court Motel in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. “That’s the worst storm I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been there for 11 years.”

Sandy, which was especially imposing because of its wide-ranging winds, brought a record storm surge of almost 14 feet (4.2 meters) to downtown Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10 feet (3 meters) during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.

Water poured into the subway tunnels that course under the city, the country’s financial capital, and Bloomberg said the subway system would likely be closed for four or five days.

“Hitting at high tide, the strongest surge and the strongest winds all hit at the worst possible time,” said Jeffrey Tongue, a meteorologist for the weather service in Brookhaven, New York.

Hurricane-force winds as high as 90 miles per hour (145 km per hour) were recorded, he said. “Hopefully it’s a once-in-a-lifetime storm,” Tongue said.

As residents and business owners began a massive cleanup effort and faced a long and costly recovery, large parts of the region remained without power, and transportation in the New York metropolitan area was at a standstill.

The U.S. Department of Energy said more than 8 million homes and businesses in several states were without electricity due to the storm, which crashed ashore late on Monday near the gambling resort of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

MORE THAN 50 HOMES BURN

The unprecedented flooding hampered efforts to fight a massive fire that destroyed more than 50 homes in Breezy Point, a private beach community on the Rockaway barrier island in the New York City borough of Queens.

New York University’s Tisch hospital was forced to evacuate more than 200 patients, among them babies on respirators in the neonatal intensive care unit, when the backup generator failed. Four of the newborns had to be carried down nine flights of stairs while nurses manually squeezed bags to deliver air to the babies’ lungs, CNN reported.

The death toll continued to rise, with reports of at least 30 people killed by the storm.

“Sadly the storm claimed lives throughout the region, including at least 10 in our city … and we expect that number to go up,” Bloomberg said.

Other storm-related deaths were reported elsewhere in New York state in addition to Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Toronto police also recorded one death – a woman hit by flying debris.

Sandy killed 66 people in the Caribbean last week before pounding U.S. coastal areas.

Federal government offices in Washington, which was spared the full force of the storm, were closed for a second day on Tuesday, and schools were shut up and down the East Coast.

The storm weakened as it ploughed slowly west across southern Pennsylvania, its remnants situated between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with maximum winds down to 45 mph (72 kph), the National Hurricane Centre said.

As Sandy converged with a cold weather system, blizzard warnings were in effect for West Virginia, western Maryland, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky and western North Carolina.

Wind gusts, rain and flooding were likely to extend well into Tuesday, but without the storm’s earlier devastating power, said AccuWeather meteorologist Jim Dickey.
At its peak, the storm’s wind field stretched from North Carolina north to the Canadian border and from West Virginia to a point in the Atlantic Ocean halfway to Bermuda, easily one of the largest ever seen, the hurricane Centre said.

Obama and Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney put campaigning on hold for a second day instead of launching their final push for votes ahead of the November 6 election.

Obama, who has made every effort to show himself staying on top of the storm situation, faces political danger if the federal government fails to respond well in the storm’s aftermath, as was the case with predecessor George W. Bush’s botched handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

But Obama also has a chance to look presidential in a national crisis.

With politics cast aside for the moment, Republican Christie heaped praise on the Democratic incumbent for the government’s initial storm response.

“The federal government response has been great,” Christie, a staunch Romney supporter, told NBC’s “Today” show. “I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president personally … and the president has been outstanding in this.”

NEW JERSEY TOWNS FLOODED

Three towns in New Jersey, just west of New York City, were inundated with up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water after the nearby Hackensack River flooded, officials said. Rescuers were using boats to aid the marooned residents of Moonachie, Little Ferry and Carlstadt.

In New York, a crane partially collapsed and dangled precariously from a 90-story luxury apartment building under construction in Midtown Manhattan.

Much of the city was deserted, as its subways, buses, commuter trains, bridges and airports were closed. Power outages darkened most of downtown Manhattan as well as Westchester County, affecting more than 650,000 customers, power company Consolidated Edison said.

The neighborhoods along the East and Hudson rivers in Manhattan were underwater, as were low-lying streets in Battery Park near Ground Zero, where the World Trade Centre once stood.

U.S. stock markets were closed on Tuesday but would likely reopen on Wednesday. They closed on Monday for the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Most areas in downtown Manhattan were without power on Monday morning. As the sun rose, most of the water in Manhattan’s low-lying Battery Park City appeared to have receded.

A security guard at 7 World Trade Centre, Gregory Baldwin, was catching some rest in his car after labouring overnight against floodwater that engulfed a nearby office building.

“The water went inside up to here,” he said, pointing to his chest. “The water came shooting down from Battery Park with the gusting wind.”

In Lower Manhattan, firefighters used inflatable orange boats to rescue utility workers stranded for three hours by rising floodwaters inside a power substation.
One of the Con Ed workers pulled from the floodwater, Angelo Amato, said he was part of a crew who had offered to work through the storm.

“This is what happens when you volunteer,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Bases, Edward Krudy and Scott DiSavino in New York and Tabassum Zakaria in Washington. Writing by Matt Spetalnick and Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Eric Beech)

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Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in the Rockaways section of New York, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford  View Photo

  • Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in the Rockaways section of New York, October …

A man sits on his porch behind a car that was burned out in an electrical fire after a tree fell over a power line due to the remnants of Hurricane Sandy in Toronto, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch  View Photo

  •  A man sits on his porch behind a car that was burned out in an electrical fire after …

A man walks through floodwaters in the Rockaways section of New York, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford   View Photo

  • A man walks through floodwaters in the Rockaways section of New York, October 30, …

Zoe Jurusik, 20, paddle-boards down a flooded city street in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in Bethany Beach, Delaware, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  View Photo

  • Zoe Jurusik, 20, paddle-boards down a flooded city street in the aftermath of Hurricane …

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire on a flooded street in the Rockaways section of New York, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford  View Photo

  • Firefighters work to extinguish a fire on a flooded street in the Rockaways section …

A resident looks over the remains of burned homes in the Rockaways section of New York, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford  View Photo

  • A resident looks over the remains of burned homes in the Rockaways section of New …

Residents look over the remains of burned homes in the Rockaways section of New York, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford  View Photo

  • Residents look over the remains of burned homes in the Rockaways section of New York, …

A man walks away from a building that has been surrounded by water pushed up by Hurricane Sandy in Bellport, New York, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson  View Photo

  • A man walks away from a building that has been surrounded by water pushed up by Hurricane …

Residents, including a young child, are rescued by emergency personnel from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New Jersey, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Adam Hunger  View Photo

  • Residents, including a young child, are rescued by emergency personnel from the flood …

The lobby of Verizon's Corporate headquarters in Manhattan is shown underwater October 29, 2012 in this handout photo supplied by Verizon in New York Tuesday. REUTERS/Verizon/Handout  View Photo

  • The lobby of Verizon’s Corporate headquarters in Manhattan is shown underwater October …

Workers clear a downed tree caused by Hurricane Sandy along Roosevelt Blvd in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Laurence Kesterson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT DISASTER)  View Photo

  • Workers clear a downed tree caused by Hurricane Sandy along Roosevelt Blvd in Philadelphia, …

Workers pump flood water out of a Con Edison complex in Manhattan after the storms from last night's Hurricane Sandy in New York October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly  View Photo

  • Workers pump floodwater out of a Con Edison complex in Manhattan after the storms …

Residents walk by debris on the boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy in Ocean City, Maryland October 30, 2012. Millions of people across the eastern U.S. awoke to scenes of destruction wrought by monster storm Sandy, which knocked out power to huge swathes of the densely populated region. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  View Photo

  • Residents walk by debris on the boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy in Ocean City, Maryland …

A resident assists rescue workers with his jet ski to rescue residents from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New Jersey October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Adam Hunger  View Photo

  • A resident assists rescue workers with his jet ski to rescue residents from flood …

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Festival of Our Lady of Good Health, Vailankanni, in Washington DC


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj .

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The Oratory of Our Lady of Good Health, Vailankanni, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
The Oratory of Our Lady of Good Health, Vailankanni, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

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On Saturday, September 8, 2012, devotees from Washington DC, Maryland, New Jersey and other parts throughout the country, and from Canada, undertook the pilgrimage to Washington DC. They celebrated the feast of “Our Lady of Good Health,” Vailankanni at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. The Most Revered Antony Devotta, Bishop of Tiruchirapalli, India, officiated as the main celebrant for the Pilgrimage Mass.

The members of the Indian American Catholic Association (IACA) – Tamils, Keralites, Anglo-Indians, Mangaloreans, Goans, Bengalis, Sinhalese, Asian Pacific Catholics, and other devotees organized the annual pilgrimage.

In 1997, the IACA realized its dream of establishing an oratory to “Our Lady of Good Health,” Vailankanni, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, DC. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the inauguration of the Oratory. This beautiful chapel at the nation’s principal Marian Shrine has become one of the most visited at the Basilica.

The devotees prayed and sang hymns in a variety of Asian languages – Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Marathi, Konkani, Bengali, Sinhalese, etc.

It turned out to be a valuable experience for me and my family members. We participated in the celebrations that conveyed the vibrant Indian traditions mingled with spiritual, cultural and ethnic heritage in a spirit of cooperation and harmony in Washington DC., United States.

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