“If we cannot cope with our current situation, there is little hope that the climate will improve in a warming climate,” said Dr. Dahl.
The country’s vulnerability to extreme weather conditions was underscored by the downpour that flooded the country’s largest city. New York City has invested billions of dollars in storm protection since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, investments that do not seem to mitigate the effects of the Flood.
The rain poured down in wild torrents, turning the subway system into a kind of slide. Central Park recorded 7.19 inches of rain, nearly double the previous 1927 record for the same date, according to the National Weather Service, which issued the city’s first emergency flash flood alert.
Before the storm, city and state officials activated preparation plans: clear the sewer system, erect flood barriers in the subway and other sensitive areas, warn the public. But the rain drained more water and faster than the city considered in its new rainwater maps as an “extreme” flood event.
The damage pattern reflects the link between climate exposure and racial inequality: the effects were more evident in low-income color communities that are more prone to flooding due to historical inequalities, are less serviced by city services, and are often lax housing enforcement.
Most of those killed in New York City drowned when floods fell into their basement apartments. Many of these homes do not meet security requirements, but have emerged as affordable housing for the working poor and undocumented immigrants who may fear complaining to the authorities about security breaches.
In one case, Tara Ramskriet, 43, and her son Nick, 22, drowned when water filled their basement apartment in the Hollis neighborhood of Queens so quickly that family members couldn’t pull them out against the current and a wall collapsed and trapped them in it.