"Nobody has power," my friend's text read, "and there's like a million trees down everywhere." Living in northern Westchester but commuting to New Rochelle for school, I was desparately trying to find out just how bad things were down there, as my area had made it through the storm with few blackouts or damages. On Sunday night, all the surrounding districts had already been closed — including New Rochelle, White Plains, Eastchester and our counterpart boys school. Rain day, perhaps?
Unfortunately (some would say luckily), our school was the only with power, so we trudged in Monday only to be greeted by the sight of destruction on our lawn. The evergreen shown above, taller than one of our three story buildings, had snapped in half, and it was flanked by two smaller trees on either side.
Simply being at school was a refuge for a number of students. "We haven't had power since Friday," my deskmate in physics said, "and the mayor says we shouldn't get it back for another seven days." Over 6,900 people in New Rochelle were left without power as a result of the Noreaster, and the total for Westchester has climbed above 50,000. Add to this the hundreds of trees fallen and the damage as a result of flooding, and you've got one wrecked county.
Attribution is one of the foremost issues with climate change. Who can possibly say that a natural disaster is the definite result of the greenhouse gases we've released into the atmosphere? But witnessing the pure strength of this storm, coupled with an unusual winter and an extremely rainy fall, it's hard not to think that climate change is at play. I believe we've entered, as Thomas Friedman likes to say, "the decade of weird weather."
Climate change doesn't just flood the Maldives or increase droughts in far-off countries. It hits every single part of the world, as New York saw last weekend. With these effects come all sorts of unforeseen consequences — loss of trees, closing of businesses and schools, the inability to make phone calls. And if we are inconvenienced and upset with power for a week, imagine our emotions if we couldn't obtain water or food due to debilitating droughts, like many citizens of third world nations.
When people talk about "climate engineering" as an a potential solution, I can't help but think of storms like these and reflect that, no matter how daily life attempts to convince us otherwise, we truly are at the mercy of Mother Nature. It's scary to think of the effects that will come if climate change continues to be unchecked.
Photos: Maddy Yozwiak