Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It's Not The Heat, It's The... Tornadoes?

I didn't want to schlep to Queens today in the 90-plus degree heat to try to sort out my registration issues. I knew that the guy who had been helping me with my loans was still out, and that the new head of the Vet Tech department, who I spoke with several times this week, had not yet been able to schedule another section of the course I need. Little did I know, the storms that briefly woke me up in the wee hours with raging thunder and rain would insure I wouldn't make that trip.

Although reports coming in to the New York Times, Gothamist, NY1 television and WNYC, the local NPR station, point out that there is no verification from the National Weather Service yet that one or more tornadoes came through Brooklyn last night, photos and calls from residents testify to some very-tornado like phenomena. That's right, large trees uprooted and flung tens of feet, roofs ripped off, a low roar like a train coming through in the middle of the night, and clear demarcations between blocks of severe destruction and blocks with no damage. In Brooklyn.

On top of that, rain upwards of three inches in an hour have flooded out and shut down pretty much the entire subway system, save one line. While Mrs. Nator slept in unusually late, commuters from New Jersey and Long Island found themselves stuck in the city, and subway and bus riders in all boroughs wandered, trying to find a running train or a bus not immobilized by traffic with space for one more body. It is a mess out there, my friends.

Of course, it reminds a lot of people of some of the other big recent crises when transportation and communication failed. Callers into local radio shows are complaining that nothing has changed since 9/11, as the MTA still neglects telling riders exactly what is going on, or makes announcements that are not only unhelpful, but unintelligible. When are they going to get it together?

For my part, it also reminds me a bit of that infamous day, because Mrs. Nator and I were both lucky. Six years ago I was the one who slept late and missed getting on a train before the event, and Mrs. Nator has made it safely to work beforehand. This morning, I had nowhere I had to go, and she couldn't seem to wake up on time. What's more, no major damage seems to have hit our neighbourhood.

Of course, it's still dangerously hot. As I listened to the callers from around Brooklyn complaining on the radio about what looked to them like tornado damage and the MTA's incompetency, I was leafing through An Inconvenient Truth. To my delight, the book was given free to every new student entering my new school this Fall as assigned reading. As I listened to weather experts connecting global warming with record-breaking heat and severe storms like hurricanes and tornadoes on the radio, I came to the section of the book that proved the same thing. In other words, it's not just New Orleans and Florida that have to worry anymore. The gangstas in the Boogie-Down better start rapping about whether they're tough enough to survive twenty-foot rises in sea levels, yo.

It made me feel slightly better that I had ordered biodegradable trash bags and recycled toilet paper yesterday. But not much.


P.S.: Best commentary of the day, courtesy of Gothamist:

Update: The NOAA has now confirmed a tornado touched down in Brooklyn. Forensic evidence suggests wind speeds of 111-135 MPH, making this about an F2 level tornado. Crazy!


claire said...

oh my god, i know. it's disgusting out there. and the rain? what the hell is going on here?

luckily, there were no tornadoes out this far east, but we had them roaming around with the last big storm 3 or 4 weeks ago. scary shit, yo. New Yorkers just don't expect tornadoes. EVER.

tater said...

I was watching it unfold on CNN, and I immediately thought of my poor blogger friends in Brooklyn. Glad to hear that you were out of the danger zone! What about Helen and David? I am glad you decided to sleep in and miss the public transportation nightmare. It happens here in Chicago, because the CTA is badly mismanaged and does not spend enough on infrastructure. The city whines about auto gridlock, but neglects its rail system. Government at its finest...