The coming deluge

It’s raining. Again. The ground is saturated, so there’s flooding as well. How appropriate: I’m working on a story about the danger posed by a storm surge to Manhattan, the nightmare scenario projected when we get hit by a major hurricane.

New York is extremely vulnerable to coastal flooding. I learned there are two kinds of flooding: the first occurs when the rate of rainfall exceeds the rate of absorption, and the second when the ocean washes over the land. In the wake of Katrina, the city is preparing evacuation procedures for the three zones it’s identified as most in peril, but no agency— city, state or federal—  is doing anything to prevent the surge. Other major coastal cities, e.g., London, Rotterdam, St. Petersburg, have installed storm surge barriers to be deployed in an emergency, but as in so many other things, we revert to a reactive mode. What’s happened to our initiative?

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