“Anyone who says there is not a change in weather patterns is denying reality.” Andrew Cuomo.
Now that freak storms are becoming a Halloween tradition here in Westchester, it’s time to face up to the inconvenient truth. As our planet continues to heat up from the burning of fossil fuels and the continued destruction of trees, our weather is becoming more unstable. Trees are part of this equation because they act as the lungs of the earth: they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. But sadly, trees are also part of the problem too because they can snap and uproot in high winds and heavy rains.
Last year’s Halloween canceling storm caused many New Castle residents to be without power for a week, some for close to two weeks and longer. This year’s Frankenstorm easily doubled last year’s record power outages. Hotels in the region were booked solid two days before the storm even blew into town. Gas powered generators sprung up everywhere as it became obvious that the electric wouldn’t be back anytime soon.
And then the gas lines started. To me, that was the most disconcerting facet of the storm’s aftermath. Like it or not, here in suburbia we are heavily dependent upon gas. We were lucky this time around, the lines didn’t last for long and there was even some free gas pumped in Mt Kisco one day.
Supply chains and grids don’t always work the way they should. We’re learning more and more about Murphy’s Law with each passing storm. What if next year’s 100-year storm includes more extensive power outages? In other words, what if the gas doesn’t flow anywhere nearby? How would we get by with no gas? What if the ConEd trucks and all the other power trucks that came this time from far away can’t get here for some reason?
We don’t have a problem on our hands; problems have solutions. We have a predicament. Predicaments don’t have easy solutions. Instead, we must generate intelligent responses. A smart response would be to cultivate a culture of self reliance and community resilience.
Climate change is here and it won’t be going away anytime soon. The time is now to make meaningful preparations for the next freak, 100-year storm or whatever else global weirding tosses our way.
A good place to start is your own street. Meet your neighbors, get their phone and email addresses, make a list for everyone. Find out who has pets, who has generators or extra firewood. Share a pot luck meal with those who live nearby and talk about what you did for this recent storm and what lessons you learned that will help you prepare better for the next disruption.
Resilience is the lesson we can learn from storms like Sandy. Resilience is about withstanding and surviving unexpected shocks to a system. How do we deal with adversity in such a way that we come through it with minimal harm. Resilience means facing life’s difficulties with courage and patience.
Susan Rubin has lived through 25 years of storms in Chappaqua and is writing a booklet on storm preparation in suburbia that includes delicious recipes.