Ida Flooding: The Future Is Now
The disaster caused by Hurricane Ida — dwindled to "only" a tropical storm — hitting the Northeast just keeps getting uglier as more victims of flooding are found, and flood warnings remain in effect today for parts of Pennsylvania. Just a reminder: Climate change is making storms like this worse, because warmer seas = stronger hurricanes, and warmer air holds more moisture, making rainfall and flooding worse, too. That's why Hurricane Harvey was so bad in 2017, with three times as much rain as a similar storm in the early 1900s.
Science has a way of not letting us easily ignore reality.
Goddamn Right Housing Is A Climate Issue
The death toll from Ida's remnants continues to rise, with at least 46 deaths in the Northeast as of this morning, the AP reports (that's up by one from my first glance at the story earlier).
At least 23 people died in New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said. At least 13 people were killed in New York City, police said, 11 of them in flooded basement apartments, which often serve as relatively affordable homes in one of the nation's most expensive housing markets. Suburban Westchester County reported three deaths.
Officials said at least five people died in Pennsylvania, including one killed by a falling tree and another who drowned in his car after helping his wife to escape. A Connecticut state police sergeant, Brian Mohl, perished after his cruiser was swept away. Another death was reported in Maryland.
Probably the smartest thing we heard in any of the TV reporting was a simple reminder from an NBC News reporter: When there's a flash flood warning, just don't drive if you can avoid it. Something like half of flash flood deaths result from people driving into water that's deeper or moving more swiftly than they think it is; as a former Tucson resident, I internalized that long ago, but as flash flooding from extreme rainfall becomes a more common part of our weather, it's a lesson too many people have yet to learn.
And if you can, try not to be poor. Hey, seems like reducing the risk of just living indoors might be something government might spend money on, so we won't have to shake our heads and mutter, "those poor kids" ever more frequently.
As we mentioned yesterday, the youngest victim of the flooding in the Northeast who has so far been found was a two-year-old; in an update, NBC News New York reports the toddler and his parents, immigrants from Nepal, died in a basement apartment in a building where water reached the first-floor unit, meaning their apartment was flooded from floor to ceiling. The first-floor neighbor, Deborah Torres, told the AP that water was up to her knees, and although she heard the landlord urging the family in the basement to get out, she believes the water simply surged in so fast that they had no time to even get to the door.
Elsewhere in Queens, the AP reports, more affordable basement apartments turned into death traps:
At one Queens development, neighbors unsuccessfully tried for an hour to save a 48-year-old woman after water broke through the glass patio door of her basement apartment, trapping her in 6 feet (2 meters) of water.
"She was screaming, 'Help me, help me, help me!' We all came to her aid, trying to get her out," said the building's assistant superintendent, Jayson Jordan, but "the thrust of the water was so strong."
Residents said they have complained for years about flooding on another Queens street, where a woman and her 22-year-old son died in a basement apartment. Her husband and the couple's other son were spared only because they stepped out to move a car, next-door neighbor Lisa Singh said.
"No one should have to go this way. I feel like this was 100% avoidable," she said.
Remember, smart "it's real but not an emergency" climate skeptics like Ben Shapiro like to suggest there's no need to spend a lot of money making our infrastructure and housing more resilient, since people in areas that will be flooded can just sell their homes and move to higher ground. That's some bullshit. Climate change is a threat to all of us, but especially to the most vulnerable people in society. It's literally a social justice issue.
Just to underscore the point, the EPA happened to release a report Thursday warning that people of color will be disproportionately harmed by the climate emergency.
Flooded Out, Burned Out, Washed Away
Also too, that house on fire in flood water up top, in Manville, New Jersey? Firefighters couldn't reach burning homes because of the flooded streets, and as science journalist Erin Biba notes, the area has already seen another climate disaster within the last decade:
Manville was also devastated by Hurricane Sandy so much so that the govt started offering people buy-outs to people… https://t.co/tEMJuPVt6H— Erin Biba (@Erin Biba) 1630617353.0
Manville was also devastated by Hurricane Sandy so much so that the govt started offering people buy-outs to people who wanted to leave. This poor town just keeps getting hit and it's likely only going to be more common.
Again, this is happening all over America. If you have a spare New York Times free read this month, I'd strongly suggest yesterday's article about how climate related emergencies are bankrupting small towns. The floods come, parts of the towns are ruined, the feds pay some folks to move out of the floodplain, and oops, now the tax base is gone, too. This is not an easy solution.
Philadelphia Finally Wrecked By Something Other Than Sports Riots
The Schuylkill River overflowed in parts of Philadelphia Wednesday and Thursday, leading officials to urge residents to shelter in place if it was safe to do so, and stay the hell off the roads until water receded. WHYY reports the Schuylkill River
rose to heights not seen in more than 150 years, he said, and is on track to potentially break the all-time record from 1869, when the river crested at 17 feet [... and ] is expected to stay at its flood stage until Friday.
The city of Philadelphia opened two emergency shelters at high schools in affected parts of the city, and classes in all city schools switched to online learning. City offices and courts are also closed through today.
Historian Michael Beschloss tweeted this photo yesterday, taken by his son in Philly, showing some of the flooding.
Flooding in Philadelphia, photographed this morning by my son Alex: https://t.co/iyoh18DUb1— Michael Beschloss (@Michael Beschloss) 1630589721.0
And here are more Philadelphia photos from Twitter.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that "Dozens of sewage and stormwater pipes overflowed, [...] emptying untreated water directly into Philadelphia's major waterways," according to the city's Water Department, which is yet another reminder that when it comes to flood waters in urban areas, you should not fuck around and find out what pathogens can do to you. Same for New York, where some idiot decided it would be a great idea Thursday to float in a flooded poopwater alley (how do we know? It's all poopwater!) while smoking a hookah:
my man there is poop in that water. you are rafting down shit river https://t.co/Jb0Cu2BBpB— Brandy Jensen (@Brandy Jensen) 1630555091.0
We'll have to revise the expression to "Up Shit Creek without a hookah."
Once the waters recede, Philadelphia residents are likely to confront the foot-deep mud and poopwater muck all over their city by telling it to fuck off, and maybe pelting it with D-sized batteries like they're at an Eagles game.
[AP / NBC News New York on YouTube / WHYY / Philadelphia Inquirer / NYT / EPA / NPR / Scientific American]
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