Two new cable documentaries examine Hurricane Sandy

It was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, and it’s doubtful that anyone who either lived through it, or witnessed images and video of its startling devastation from afar, will ever forget Hurricane Sandy, which was eventually upgraded to a “superstorm” as it progressed through the Caribbean and up into the United States East Coast. Over 100 people were killed in the U.S. alone, and millions were left without power (thousands are still without power in the U.S. two weeks after the storm).

The storm will surely be studied and talked about for a long time, including in two documentaries premiering this week.

Superstorm 2012, a one-hour special, will premiere on National Geographic Channel (NGC) Nov. 15 at 10pm ET/PT (with a repeat Nov. 18 at 7pm ET/PT). The documentary weaves together user-generated stories from those who rode out the catastrophic storm, first responders, weather experts and storm chasers. Included is home video of an awe-inspiring explosion at the ConEd power plant in New York. “Looked like something out of a sci-fi movie, and everyone was screaming,” says John Mattiuzzi, a documentary filmmaker and resident of Brooklyn.

One family talks about capturing phone-camera footage of trees falling outside their house. “I’ve never felt something like that before,” says John Mateer. “Home is the safest place you know, and to feel threatened, it feels extremely frightening — like I was in a horror movie.”

In the special, New York Fire Department Social Media Manager Emily Rahimi details, for the first time, how she answered Twitter messages because people could not get through to 911. “This storm was definitely a 21st-century storm,” she says in the documentary. “This was the first one, I think, to use social media for help.”

According to NGC president Howard T. Owens, “Our goal in producing this film is to get the complete picture on why [the storm] happened, understand the science behind its extreme forces and learn how it left behind such a tableau of damage, destruction and grief.”

Jeremy Dear, senior vice president of programming for Pioneer Productions, which produced the documentary, explains, “We’ve made countless hours of weather programming before, but the nature of this storm really does make it exceptional. The film will break down the true cause and consequences of Sandy’s devastation using CGI, news footage, compelling home video and new first-person interviews.”

Superstorm 2012 premieres in the U.S. on National Geographic Channel Nov. 15 at 10pm ET/PT, with an encore Nov. 18 at 7pm ET/PT.

The special will premiere on NGC’s sister Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo Nov. 23 at 10pm ET/PT, and it will air globally this month in 172 countries under the title, Superstorm New York: What Really Happened.


History will also be examining Hurricane Sandy in the documentary Superstorm 2012: Hell and High Water (working title), which premieres Nov. 18 at 9pm ET/PT. The one-hour special brings together a team of some of the world’s best meteorologists and scientists who will take viewers inside the anatomy of a superstorm. They will show how a superstorm is formed and dissect the conditions that made Sandy spiral out of control. Viewers will witness the devastating results, hear amazing stories from those who were there and examine what needs to be done to save lives and property.

It also asks the question: Was Sandy a freak storm, or is it part of an ever-increasing cycle of natural disasters? The team uses the latest scientific data to search for the clues that may offer a glimpse into a terrifying future.

Superstorm 2012: Hell and High Water (wt) premieres on History Nov. 18 at 9pm ET/PT.