Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - Hurricane Sandy hits east coast of America – and shuts down New York City

New York, the ‘city that never sleeps’, was shut down last night as Hurricane Sandy tore across the east coast of America.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 30 October

Hurricane Sandy hits east coast of America – and shuts down New York City

New York, the ‘city that never sleeps’, was shut down last night as Hurricane Sandy tore across the east coast of America.

Post-tropical cyclone Sandy – dubbed ‘Frankenstorm’ – brought hurricane-force winds, severe flooding, electrical blackouts, and has claimed 16 lives across several US states.

Earlier this week, Sandy devastated parts of the Caribbean, including Haiti, where at least 52 people were killed. The United Nations has warned of continued flooding and an impending food crisis in the area.

In the US, an estimated 50 million people were thought to be in the path of the storm, with up to one million ordered to evacuate their homes.

New York City yesterday shut its schools, transport network and stock exchange – which is expected to remain closed for a second consecutive day for only the second time in its history.

As rivers began to swell, a record storm surge of 13.7ft flooded lower Manhattan’s major subway tunnels.

City transport director Joseph Lhota told the BBC: "The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night.”

With the presidential elections just days away, both President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have suspended their campaigns. Meanwhile, President Obama announced a “major disaster” in New York, Long Island and New Jersey – meaning that federal funding will be available to these areas.

In a country where the previous administration came under fire in 2005 for failing to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina, commentators suggest that President Obama’s reaction to the disaster could affect the presidential race.

The BBC’s North America editor Mark Murrell said that the dynamics of the election are already “being pulled out of shape.”

“This is exactly what politics, what being a president, is really all about,” said Murrell. “In a country haunted by the spectre of Hurricane Katrina, this is a moment of huge importance for the president.

One of great opportunity and, if he fails to rise to the occasion, of great peril.”

Questions for discussion

For primary:

  • Sandy is a hurricane. What other natural disasters can you think of?
  • What could be done to help people who have been affected by the hurricane?

For secondary:

  • If you were given the order to evacuate your home tomorrow because a hurricane was coming, would you go, or would you stay put?
  • People are very interested in how Obama will respond to the disaster. Why do you think this is? What should his response be?

Related resources

Natural Disasters

  • Take a look at the phenomenon of natural disasters with this interactive resource.

Hurricane Katrina case study

  • Help your class understand the effects of Hurricane Katrina with this case study resource

Oxfam: Climate Change responses

  • Consider the impact of climate change – and our response to natural disasters. Includes a study of disaster responses in Haiti.

US Elections

  • Introduce – or revise –the US electoral system with this extensive resource.

TES iboard weather resources

  • Take a look at these fabulous free iboard resources all about the weather.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

Nadeem Islam and Kayleigh Goacher, both students from South East London, picked up an award worth 3,000 Euros at the ZEBRA International Poetry Film Festival last week.

Brighton and Hove City Council has suggested removing honorifics from all documents to help better support the needs of the city’s transgender community.

A row has been triggered among MPs following a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that has led to the introduction a draft bill to allow prisoners limited voting rights.

The scientific world reacted in dismay yesterday after an Italian judge convicted six scientists for failing to assess the risk of the 2009 earthquake in the city of L'Aquila.

In the news archive index