The effect of the storm on New York

Since I last blogged, I took a walk around my neighborhood, and other than some wind and fallen branches, there didn’t seem to be much of a storm. It was pleasant being outside. The air had an electric, oxygen-rich feeling. The impression remained that the worst of the storm, which was not bad, had passed. But there was one odd moment when we were standing on the east side of West End Avenue, not feeling much wind, while a traffic light across the street, a heavy metal object hanging from its fixture, was dancing wildly in the wind, and a tree behind it was blowing dramatically. We weren’t feeling the wind, but the traffic light and the tree were.

However, local TV news, which I’m now watching, reports that other parts of Manhattan and the New York City area are much more seriously affected, mainly by flooding. Downtown, waters from the East River and New York Harbor have washed over Manhattan and are pouring into the Brooklyn Battery tunnel (which was shut down yesterday). It’s quite a dramatic sight. Con Edison substations, which had been preemptively turned off, leaving 250,000 people in lower Manhattan without power, have been flooded. Streets in the outer boroughs and in some New Jersey towns have been flooded. As I type this, they say that the worst of the storm has passed.

* * *

Update, 10:34 p.m. As I was returning home just now, I saw, twenty feet to the left of the entrance of my brownstone, the major limb of a tree that had snapped and fallen, the thick end of the limb falling between two parked cars so that it didn’t cause any damage. I’m astonished. I was standing at that same spot an hour and a half earlier when I went out for a walk, feeling some mild wind and looking at a lot of fallen branches, but feeling nothing that suggested the force that could snap a thick limb. Yet at some point in the intervening 90 minutes, there was such a wind.

(UPDATE, Oct. 30, 11:00 p.m.: When I said a “major limb,” that was an understatement. What snapped was really the main trunk of the tree, and at the point where it snapped it had to be at 14 to 15 inches in diameter. To repeat, I am astounded that there was a wind strong enough to do that, since I personally experienced nothing like such a wind as I was walking through the neighborhood last night. Also, there was no other such full size tree broken in my neighborhood that I saw. My block also had far more fallen branches than any other block. I took some photographs of the tree today, as city workers were cutting off the broken part of the tree, and if I can figure out how to do it I will upload one or more of the photos tomorrow.)

In Flushing, Queens, a huge tree was uprooted, tearing up the earth and pavement with it, and fell on a house, killing a 29-year-old man inside.

October 30

Paul Henri writes from New Orleans:

Glad to see you came through the storm unharmed. Your anecdote about the storm crashing a tree onto the exact spot you stood just minutes earlier illustrates the unpredictability of hurricanes, with which I have had many experiences. They are treacherous berserkers. The best way to deal with them is to evacuate, to get out of their way.

I just spent a horrible five days evacuating to the delightfully Southern city of Tallahassee, Florida, getting my mother safely out of the way of Isaac at 5:00 a.m., after the Mayor told those with dependents to evacuate the afternoon before. I knew taking her out of her surroundings would cause a big drop in her then plateau of dementia. For five days, she asked me every three minutes, “Where are we?”

I had some minor water damage and the loss of my refrigerated goods, while my mother’s condo had no damage and no power loss! The other half of her building did lose power for several days. Again, unpredictable. One could say, “All that for nothing.” But I have had heard of and seen too many close calls to have regrets.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 29, 2012 09:44 PM | Send

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