It’s weird being in St. Louis, where it’s sunny and 55 degrees, while so much of my immediate family is caught in the path of Hurricane Sandy.  My daughter’s college dorm in New York has no water and no power. A teenage girl can go without a shower, but not being able to charge her cellphone and laptop is tough. She’s conserving the battery, so we’re not hearing a lot from her, but her school has sent regular e-mail updates on conditions there and we’re confident she’s fine.

The giant pine tree which has been in Mom’s back yard on Long Island for over 50 years succumbed to the wind last night. It’s now lying across her driveway, with the top of it in her neighbor’s yard. She’s trying to find a tree service to remove it, but most of them are too busy handling other calls, so it may lay there for awhile.  The rest of her yard is a swamp, but the house is high and dry and the electricity’s still on.  Meanwhile, my brother’s neighborhood in Maryland, where tree branches come down on power lines if someone sneezes, lost power for several hours last night, but it’s back today.  My sister-in-law in Boston also lost power for 12 hours with a few downed trees in the area, but nothing serious.

I wonder how the employees of hotels at New Jersey beaches feel about having to stay on the job despite the mandatory evacuations to take care of all the media crews doing round-the-clock live shots — while their own homes and neighborhoods are being flooded.

Agree with his politics or not, you gotta give Governor Chris Christie credit for his leadership in New Jersey. His no-bullshit press conferences are exactly what’s needed during the crisis.  Nice to see him, as a Romney surrogate, giving Obama credit for the federal government’s help, too.

I understand why Obama suspended his campaign during the storm — he has to look presidential and stay in touch with the governors and mayors of the affected areas.  That means never saying “You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie!” or giving right-wing media a reason to blame him for the storm or the cleanup (which they’ll do anyway). But Romney has no official responsibilities, so he could have gone on with his campaign stops in Ohio, Nevada, Wisconsin, and other battleground states without anyone criticizing him.  As long as he doesn’t bring up that I’ll-shut-down-FEMA remark from last year, what’s he supposed to do, ride to the rescue on Rafalka?

Atlantic City casinos were already suffering from losing business to nearby states that have begun to allow gambling, so being boarded up during the storm isn’t going to help.  On the other hand, maybe Sandy washed away some of the scum that makes up the boardwalk there.

Have you seen Lydia Callis, the American Sign Language interpreter for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s press conferences?  Here she is in action.  Without hearing the mayor’s words, watch her expressions.  She’s gone viral, too, with a Tumblr page dedicated to her (albeit with her name spelled incorrectly).

This is the year that Twitter and other social media proved how important they are. There’s a tremendous amount of information being shared — some of it official, some of it personal, some of it serious, some of it silly — in a manner that old media simply can’t keep up with.  TV reporters with one foot in the ocean and newspapers with still photos from the previous day can’t compete with the immediacy of millions of people with high-powered communications devices in their hands and the ability to post it from anywhere, anytime.  There was one old medium that carried the ball, though — local radio, a repository for new information and sharing stories, especially when millions of listeners have no power, which means reduced access to TV and online outlets.

There are going to be lots of hero stories emerging from this storm, but the one that caught my eye was the staff of NYU hospital who had to evacuate newborns from the neonatal intensive care unit when the building’s generator went down.  That meant carrying the babies and all that equipment down 9 flights of stairs.

One last thought:  Hurricanes and other natural disasters must be very hard for right-wingers, because they have to count on scientists and union-member first responders to keep people safe.