Other voices, other floods
Here's one of my favorite photos from Bangkok's massive flood from last year:
Commerce goes on! (That's the store owner in the inner tube.)
(Before we get into "not comparable," Bangkok has a population of around 8 million people, and I think the Bangkok conurbation is around 10 million. And had the entire city in fact flooded, the danger of disease would have been very great, before we get to the humanitarian disaster, and the economy. Granted, the Andaman Sea in the rainy season is not the Atlantic Ocean in the Fall. But still. We're in the same ballpark regarding scale, here.)
All in all, my impression is that the Thais handled their flooding pretty well -- and certainly better than this country did with Katrina (unless your theory is that the destruction of NOLA was A-OK with our elites, a proposition with some evidence behind it). Part of the angst and dread of Sandy has been knowing it was coming, being powerless to do anything about it, and yet having the onset be delayed. Much the same was true in Bangkok, as the waters from the north "had to go somewhere" but took weeks to make it to the sea.
Will our political economy be as resilient as a second-world country's? Possibly. I think long term, however, that John Robb has the right of it:
Fortunately, no matter what the damage is to New York and the surrounding area, it will be rebuilt. The US still has the political will and economic capacity to rebuild it.
When that fades away, as current trends suggest, damage from storms like Sandy to complicated, aging urban infrastructure (like we see in New York City) won’t be rebuilt.
"As current trends suggest."