The impact of the storm Sandy on UN Headquarters in New York from Monday October 29, until 3 pm Wednesday, October 31 was essentially the suspension of all meetings and official silence. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was away from UN Headquarters, on a trip to South Korea. For over two days, little had been heard from the UN except for an occasional email notice that the UN would be closed. This went on for Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday. But then on Wednesday, around 3:05 pm a new email arrived announcing that there would be a Security Council meeting to take place at 3:00 pm, but not in the usual Security Council meeting area .
It was possible to view the meeting itself on the UN web site and it was evident that the UN meeting was taking place in the temporary building known as NLB, not in the headquarters building itself where it usually meets. Why the change, however, was not announced.
An email to the Spokesperson’s office at the UN asking about the problem was answered explaining:
“The building has had some water damage in the basement, but the larger problem is simply the one facing the area: the difficulties in commuting to work and in the communications networks. Thanks.”
It was helpful to get this response to the question of what had happened, but this was not a sufficient explanation for not hearing how the UN had suspended operations at its New York headquarters for almost three days with little explanation of what was happening being offered to the public.
During the Security Council meeting held at what seemed short notice, Guatemala’s Ambassador to the UN, Gert Rosenthal gave a hint at what had happened. He said that his mission was without electricity, water and Internet. He ended the last Security Council meeting of October 2012 with the statement, “What we have discovered is that the world without Internet just doesn’t work.”