Hurricane marks the
beginning of a vulnerable era
On October 29, Earth’s full moon brought tides to their highest levels in New York harbor.
Fatefully, on the same evening, a tropical cyclone, Sandy, slammed into the coast. Hard rain and 80mph wind pushed the churning East River over its banks, inundating the canyons of downtown Manhattan, The Rockaways, Staten island, Red Hook, and Coney Island.
In 24 hours, the city remapped itself. Drowned subways returned to primordial underground waterways, prompting the MTA to issue revised maps of a disturbing new topography. The dark-zone of lower Manhattan stood dully against the light of the city, its precincts emptied out. New neighborhoods emerged in evacuation centers. Overnight, the seamless flow of people, capital, and information faced the isolated reality of island geography.
At worst, these dislocations have had mournful consequences: businesses, homes, people were erased in the flood. Thousands in Brooklyn and Staten island are still without power, even as Manhattan shudders back to life. Yet, we recognize that dislocation also reframes, challenging our understanding of the old condition.
We urge our readers to help with the effort not just to return, but to renew and rethink this city’s way of life in what is likely to be a new era of extreme weather: