We are down to what, 2.4 million without power? That is much better than the original number 6 days ago of nearly 8 million without power. But on the other hand, weather in the New Jersey/New York area is cold, highs in the 30s. Not fun when you have no power.
There are still serious problems which make the lives of some residents living hell. Gasoline shortages remain, even though local and state and federal officials have struggled to up the flow of gasoline into the area massively. That helps, but unfortunately it does nothing for gas stations without power, because as I said before, you cannot pump gas without power. It will get better, but we can estimate that it will take another 3 or 4 days to fix it. After the election.
Speaking of the election, the Sandy aftermath is actually not positioned to make a big difference in the outcome. Yes, it is very unfortunate that many NJ and NY residents will find it miserably difficult to vote. Chris Christie actually made a gesture to simplify the process for those displaced by Sandy in NJ. The important fact for NY and NJ is that these are generally reliably Dem states as regards the presidential vote, so even if a couple hundred thousand people in each state are too messed up and concerned with their personal survival and comfort to vote, Obama still gets those precious electoral college votes in both. Pennsylvania? Well, the storm did not hit PA nearly as badly as it hit NY and especially NJ, so there are by Tuesday probably relatively few PA residents too burdened by storm recovery to actually vote. Result is probably an electoral college win for Obama in PA, another precious 20 EC votes.
But remember, the Sandy Aftermath will not be finished on Wednesday, no matter who wins. Sure, if the water is drained out of your basement and your power is back on and your building stayed up, okay for you, assuming that you do not get an out of control mold disaster. You may have bills that insurance will not pay, but you are surviving in place. But what if your home is so damaged that you cannot live there? In coastal NJ, and a few NY areas such as Staten Island, a number of homes are not going to be habitable. We have a homelessness problem, a population displacement problem, from Sandy. Some of these people may be able to go live with aunt nellie, but that might not work if aunt nellie is 100 miles away and you commute that far to your NJ job. Might somebody have a vacation home in NJ that he can rent you? I think that is a good idea. But there are probably not enough of those.
Longer term, coastal areas in the eastern US continue to have a growing insurance problem. Look people, you can disbelieve global warming all you want, but insurance companies look at the bottom line, and sorry, they want more money coming IN than flowing OUT. They are not going to shell out big for Sandy and then be willing to sit back and keep rates low for the Jersey shore, sorry, we do not live in that space time continuum. I have a sister living 40 minutes from the coast of south Florida, and she is finding her home insurance to be a serious financial burden. Some people actually take the step of self-insuring- in other words, they give up on buying insurance and just take their chances. If your house washes away then, too bad for you.
Some of those longer term consequences of Sandy may be even more significant for the USA than the short term consequences, even despite that 50 billion dollar short-term price tag. But invisibly, they will be influencing our lives for the indefinite future.