By Ochereome Nnanna
HURRICANE Sandy still held the centre-stage attention by Tuesday morning, pushing the campaigns towards the presidential election to a second place, at least for President Barack Obama.
His GOP challenger, Mitt Romney continued to campaign in battleground states, especially the all-important Ohio, where the president still held the edge 50 to 46 at the time of this report.
Obama, as the president, had a duty to return to his job in the White House to monitor the hurricane now dubbed a “Frankeinstorm” due to its monstrous, destructive force (mainly through flooding). Just as we saw in Nigeria recently during unprecedented flooding and President Goodluck Jonathan had to address the nation and roll out emergency assistance strategies as well as conduct an extensive touring of the worst affected areas, Obama also spoke to Americans.
He told them the storm had now taken the primary place of attention, the elections next week “will take care of themselves”. He told them every effort would be made to ensure they got their food, water and needs in their various improvised shelters.
Said he: “Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Don’t delay, don’t pause, don’t question the instructions that are being given because this is a powerful storm”.
He had to drum in the message knowing how stubborn Americans can be to “instructions” from state officials. Most radio and television networks brought him on from time to time.
Meanwhile, the president dispatched former President Bill Clinton to Florida, one of the crucial battleground states (which was, for once, surprisingly spared the ire of a major hurricane) to work the electorate on his behalf.
It is being speculated that in four years, his wife, Hillary Clinton, who is the Secretary of State in the Obama administration, will be coming out for president; and win or lose, Obama will be paying back the huge political debts he now owes the Clinton family.
This hurricane is widely speculated to have a variety impacts on the election, but that will be discussed later in my dispatches off this forum. About 60 million people in eleven east coast states were impacted, with flooding, power cuts, evacuations, loss of heating and physical destruction of property, not to mention the possibility of human and pet fatalities.
The presence of the new moon and the queer angle (sharp right turn off the sea) direction of the winds accounted for the huge floods when Sandy made a landfall at New Jersey coast, with storm surges of up to 13 feet of tidal water.
Here on 84th Avenue off Parsons Boulevard in Jamaica, New York, the fringe winds had been spewing steady rain sleets for about twenty four hours before 8.00pm local time when the full force of the hurricane hit.
We all remained indoors all day. Among the “we” included members of our host family (the Abbott’s) Leone Ibeka and his family who came in from a flood-prone waterfront of New York and of course, Chief Abogo, the “Ugwokegbe” of Dsalon, proprietor of the popular, upscale Downtown Salon chain in Lagos, who came in from California to New York to buy supplies for his business.
Abbot’s wife, Ada, is a medical professional and Leon’s wife is a teacher. We spent most of the day in from of the giant Vizio-brand television set, watching reports on Sandy and the election. We discussed and sometimes argued on top of our voices.
Though I am pro-Obama (for obvious reasons) I am basically Republican in my ideological bent, even back in Nigeria. Sometimes, the argument was usually me versus the rest, especially on abortion and gay issues as well as the level government should be allowed to regulate the lives of citizens.
Being pinned indoors for over 36 hours so far, we broke boredom by consulting our smart phones, laptops and ipads, and in between eating, drinking Hennessey and returning to the television. Abogo moaned from time to time: “so this is how it feels to be in prison”?
I told him: “Yes, if you are in “Awaiting Trial”.
It is now 9.00am on Tuesday, November 30th 2012 or 2.00pm Nigerian time. I am about to email this write-up to Nigeria. But before I do so, let me give the latest update on Sandy. Looking at the skies, I can report that the rains have stopped (at least for now).
The winds are still very fierce and it is not advisable for one to venture outdoors yet for safety’s sake. But the sun is beginning to peep through the clouds, a good sign for a better day. It is predicted that Sandy will expire herself in the New York area by 4.00pm today.