Sunday, October 28, 2012
“Hurricane Sandy, a menacing monster of a storm that forecasters said would bring “life-threatening” flooding, churned toward some of the nation’s most densely populated areas on Sunday…
New York went into emergency mode, ordering more than 370,000 people evacuated in low-lying communities from Coney Island in Brooklyn to Battery Park City in Manhattan and giving 1.1 million schoolchildren a day off on Monday. The subway closing was to darken every one of the city’s 468 stations at 7 p.m., for the second time in 14 months.
The National Hurricane Center…said it expected a storm surge of up to 11 feet in New York Harbor, Long Island Sound and Raritan Bay in New Jersey.”
Monday May 16, 2033
Ayden knew the basic facts, but he’d been three at the time. Reyes had been a climatologist. “So what happened?”
“It started the previous Thursday when a powerful but unremarkable storm brewed off the west coast of Africa. By Saturday the U.S. Weather Bureau had issued a hurricane warning for Orlando and Daytona Beach, expecting a category two or possibly three storm to hit on Wednesday.
“But on Tuesday afternoon the storm turned north east toward Bermuda and abnormally warm water fed the damned thing,” Reyes said. “Winds increased to a category five 170 miles per hour, then around midnight it changed direction again. Contradicting all the modeling, it turned due north and picked up forward speed. By 1:00 a.m., the hurricane warning was changed to cover Delaware, New Jersey, and possibly New York, but that didn’t give them much time to wake people up and evacuate.
“The eye of the hurricane passed a few miles west of Manhattan at around 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Wind speeds had abated somewhat as the storm passed over cooler waters, downgrading it to a category 4 but speeds of 150 miles per hour were recorded as it made landfall. Of course, damage from the wind itself was nothing compared to the storm surge.
George Reyes stopped pacing. He paused, shaking his head slightly at the memory.
“Please go on,” Ayden said.
“Well… the surge coincided with a high tide, reached a height of twenty feet. A mountain of water flooded into New York.
“The financial district in lower Manhattan was submerged, as was Brooklyn, Long Island City, Queens, and JFK Airport. Manhattan’s subway system flooded, as did the Lincoln tunnel.”
George stopped again. He looked through Ayden.
“I lost two friends. And a second cousin. The death toll was eventually tallied at 14,841. And it wasn’t New Orleans this time, it was the Big Apple. In a way, it was like 2001 all over again. From the moment Al Gore’s supporters talked him into another tilt at the presidency, the result was a foregone conclusion, and when he made his, ‘It’s my turn to take us to war’ speech he wasn’t only promising the action we demanded. Gore’s ‘war on climate change’ offered us a morally unquestionable war. And one that wouldn’t involve body-bags.”