A Journal of the Plague Year 2021–chapter 231

A friend’s Westchester County parking garage after the recent flooding.

Tuesday, September 7

It seems Emily and I have been successfully dodging climate-change bullets. But, with another couple of months to go before the official end of hurricane season, how long can our luck hold out?

Anxious about Hurricane Henri, which was projected to hit the East End of Long Island, we fled the area and went back to New York City on August 21. (In the event, the storm stayed largely to the east of the island.) We remained in the city for a week, during which time Emily got her third COVID vaccination shot. Then gauging the likeliest low-traffic travel window, we returned to Long Island on the morning of Sunday, August 29.

Three days later, New York City was hit by what Governor Kathy Hochul called “Niagara Falls-level water” in the streets, the result of Hurricane Ida.

On the East End, that tropical storm was largely a rain event that simply dumped a bunch of leaves in the yard. 

In the city and in New Jersey, severe flooding resulted in massive property destruction, mass evacuations, cancellation of 500 flights from airports, 150,000 homes without power—and 43 deaths. Many of the dead were people who got stuck in basement apartments (many of them illegal) or in their cars when flood waters rose.

“The storm dumped a record 3.15 inches of rain in just one hour in Central Park, topping the previous high of 1.94 inches in an hour set just 11 days earlier during Hurricane Henri,” said the Times.

Some city neighborhoods were submerged in chest-high water. Subway stations were flooded and the system was shut down.

Highways turned into rivers. A tornado in Southern New Jersey leveled a stretch of houses, and both the Elizabeth River and the Passaic River flooded.

Had we tarried, we easily could have been stuck in the city—our car in a flooded basement garage.

As luck would have it, our car simply got a nice wash, thanks to Ida.

One friend, who lives in the Westchester County town of Hartsdale, has sent photos showing her building’s garage flooded and her car totaled. That could easily have happened to us.

Dinner: Szechwan eggplant, white rice, and a green salad.

Entertainment: Episodes of Netflix’ lightweight crime drama Only Murders in the Building and more episodes of Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories.

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