Global warming blamed for big New York storm

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The Independent Online
PERCHED on the banks of the Hudson River, the village of Hastings-on-Hudson woke to scenes of devastation yesterday after one of the worst storms in memory lashed the Eastern seaboard of the United States and high tides dragged houses into the sea.

The village where I live was by no means the worst hit by the huge nor'easter that swept in unexpectedly off the Atlantic on Friday. But as the storm continued to build, the driving rain turned to snow and high tides returned, the response to the crisis brought out the best in the American tradition of volunteering.

The village's volunteer fire brigade was deployed to do emergency work, while the Red Cross visited people whose basements had been inundated with flood waters knocking out heat, electricity and gas. The local petrol stations sent pick-up trucks chasing up and down the 'snow-emergency routes' spreading sand and ploughing the snow aside.

The storm with no name - because it was not a true hurricane it went unchristened - killed nine people and led to a state of emergency being declared in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. As the wind and frozen rain continued to lash the New York metropolitan region high tides burst sea walls and waves inundated whole areas of the city.

Some New Yorkers blamed global warming. Insurance companies have been warning for some time that global warming would cause vicious windstorms to batter the north-east coast.

The storm took the entire region by surprise. Over-excited television weathermen were sent into a frenzy as they tried to explain the effects of a storm the ferocity of which they had singularly failed to predict.

At high tide yesterday, people living close to the sea woke up to find their cars submerged and their belongings floating away. In parts of the metropolitan region - including the southern tip of Manhattan island - they had to be rescued by inflatable life rafts.

The New York subway completely shut down because of the weather for the first time in its history and yesterday parts of it remained deep under water. Manhattan was eerily quiet as the storm passed over, with people taking shelter rather than risk being hit by objects dislodged from skyscrapers by the high winds.

For a couple of hours the city became an umbrella cemetery as brave souls emerging from buildings found their only protection from the rain ripped apart within seconds.

People crossing open areas found themselves buffeted by the wind and had to link arms for safety. Tall trees were uprooted in Central Park and dead branches were sent flying through the air as the storm wreaked its havoc over 600 miles of coastline.

Storm chaos, page 14