‘Like Going Back in Time’: Puerto Ricans Put Survival Skills to Use – The New York Times

“SAN JUAN, P.R. — A grandmother turned a school bathroom sink into a bath. Neighbors are piling into a garage for communal meals prepared on an old gas stove. A 79-year-old man made a bonfire out of fallen tree branches to cook.More than a month after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico on a path of destruction that spared no region, race or class, residents of the island have found their creativity stretched to the limit as they try to function without many amenities of the modern world.

It is not just water and electricity that are in scarce supply. Cellphone service ranges from spotty to nonexistent. Cars are damaged and roads blocked. For many, work and school still have not resumed, so they wander the streets, play board games and sit around telling stories by candlelight.

“It’s like going back in time,” said Kevin Jose Sanchez Gonzalez, 25, who has been living in darkness since Sept. 5, the day before a previous storm, Hurricane Irma, began to chip away at Puerto Rico’s electrical grid.Crammed into homes three or four families at a time, living on canned and freeze-dried food without any means of turning it into a hot meal, and sleeping in shelters, Puerto Ricans have been learning to make do, sometimes in extreme ways.”

Yes. Here are two of many comments I recommended and support.

Wade Nelson Durango, Colorado 1 hour ago

This could be America’s greatest hour. Construct and ship 100,000 tiny homes built from shipping containers. Offer American utilities massive tax breaks to send linemen, trucks, and equipment to P.R. Create a WPA or CCC to employ tens of thousands of under-employed Americans to rebuild homes. Fill the harbors with older cruise boats to house them while they do. Put every asset of the National Guard into restoring safety, and order in the island. Put a billion of OUR tax dollars in Elon Musk’s hands to fill the island with solar and PowerWall batteries instead of giving a tax cut to the rich. In other words, SEND THE CAVALRY. Americans need to take heed; whatever is NOT DONE in Puerto Rico will eventually NOT BE DONE in your town, your state, whether NorCAL, the Eastern Seaboard, Texas, or even Denver Colorado when disaster strikes YOUR area. As you have done to the “least of these, so you have done unto me” a wise man once said!

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David Solá-Del Valle, MD

Boston 3 hours ago

Facts about Puerto Rico a full month after the Hurricane (based on my visit to PR from Oct 9-Oct 14 and having my whole family in PR):
1) 77-88% (varies daily) of the island is without electricity, and Puerto Rico only has ~400 workers to restore the grid at this point as opposed to the 18,000 that were mobilized to Florida.
2) Most of my family is without water, and they live in Caguas, a mere 16 miles south of San Juan, essentially a suburb of San Juan, and easily accessible.
3) Getting a text or a phone call outside of San Juan is still miraculous. Imagine how difficult communications are. Sometimes you have to drive to see the person you need to talk to and pray they’re home and that you haven’t wasted your gas in vain. Of note, ~50% of cell towers are still down as of today.
4) The main hospitals in Caguas are working with generators.
5) Traffic is a mess – I lived it – no traffic lights are functional, and there aren’t enough policemen to man them all. Puerto Ricans have learned to multiply their usual commutes by 3-5 times depending on the day and weather.
6) I stood in line at several supermarkets in Caguas and Carolina to find food for my family to finally be allowed to enter and find half-empty shelves. This has been particularly hard for may cousin with Crohn’s disease.
7) 50 dead officially, 113 people missing, and people dying every day from lack of electricity, water, medications, etc. A video from a fellow physician in Centro Médico (in SJ) showed how grim it

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California Fires Kill at Least 10 and Destroy 1500 Buildings – The New York Times

“SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Fast-moving wildfires raged across Northern California on Monday, killing at least 10 people, sending well over 100 to hospitals, forcing up to 20,000 to evacuate and destroying more than 1,500 buildings in one of the most destructive fire emergencies in the state’s history.

Firefighters were battling blazes in eight counties, officials said.In Santa Rosa, the fire gutted a Hilton hotel and flattened the Journey’s End retirement community, a trailer park not far from the freeway that crosses the city. Most of the trailers were leveled, leaving a smoldering debris field of household appliances, filing cabinets and the charred personal effects of more than 100 residents. Pieces of ash fell like snowflakes, an….”

How Houston’s Growth Created the Perfect Flood Conditions – The New York Times

“As floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey recede in Houston, one thing that’s been revealed is that some of the damage — financial, physical, emotional — could have been avoided.

Flood hazard maps by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, showing the 100-year floodplain, an area with a 1 percent risk for flooding in any given year, mark where homeowners are required to have federally sponsored flood insurance. This is one of the few early warning signals the United States has for flooding. For Houston, those maps were thoroughly inadequate. Early assessments show many homes were flooded even though they were located far from the designated floodplains. Many homes in what’s known as the 500-year floodplain — with a 0.2 percent chance of flooding in a year — are also flooded.Areas surrounding the Katy Prairies, sprawling grasslands in western Harris County, provide one such example. The region has been heavily developed over the past 30 years, sometimes overlapping or abutting floodplains. Local officials did not do enough to preserve native grasses, set aside open spaces or improve drainage.”

As Harvey Rains Down Devastation- Houston Stands Together – The New York Times

“There are lessons to be learned, as there always are after disasters like this. Some of those lessons — like how unchecked urban sprawl and paving over of wetlands and prairies have increased the risk posed by floods in Houston and other cities — were evident long before Harvey and ought to become more urgent in the storm’s wake. Experts will also point out, as they have before, that cities ought to abandon traditional flood-control approaches that were never very good and are wholly inadequate for dealing with the kinds of intense storms that have become more frequent in recent years. Instead, they need to adopt smarter strategies that provide more space for floodwaters to seep into the ground and drain away slowly without leaving behind a trail of destruction.”

How Hurricane Harvey Became So Destructive – The New York Times

“The mind-boggling amount of rainfall during Harvey is a function of the storm sitting by the Gulf of Mexico and continuing to draw moisture directly from it. Because of the orientation of the storm, Dr. Shepherd said, “you’ve just got this stream of moisture firehosing into the Houston region,” as the moisture is constantly replenished by the gulf. “This could go down as the worst flood disaster in U.S. history.”Scientists are increasingly able to link some extreme weather events to climate change, but when it comes to hurricanes, many say there remain a number of unknowns. What is clear, though, is that rising global temperatures warm the oceans, which causes more water to evaporate into the atmosphere.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Comment to the NYT

I look forward to hearing from Heidi Cullen and her crew of other scientists at climatecentral.org.
They work to show actual linkages between major storm events and climate change, and share their findings with the press. There is a major linkage in this story. The higher than normal water temperature of the gulf contributed directly to the size of the downpour.
From the climatecentral.org website:
What We Do

Climate Central surveys and conducts scientific research on climate change and informs the public of key findings. Our scientists publish and our journalists report on climate science, energy, sea level rise, wildfires, drought, and related topics. Climate Central is not an advocacy organization. We do not lobby, and we do not support any specific legislation, policy or bill. Climate Central is a qualified 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.

Values

Scientific and Journalistic Integrity — We report the scientific facts of climate change however they fall.
Importance of Informing the Public — Democracy calls for an informed public. We seek to reach the widest possible audience with the scientific facts to support a healthy public debate.
Effective Communication — An innovative mix of cutting-edge science and communication defines our approach, to reach and move important audiences.
Collaboration — We work in the lead in our specific field, and we contribute our talents and efforts as a partner with the community addressing climate change. . . . .

Alaska’s Permafrost Is Thawing – by Henry Fountain – NYT

“YUKON DELTA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Alaska — The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as other parts of the planet, and even here in sub-Arctic Alaska the rate of warming is high. Sea ice and wildlife habitat are disappearing; higher sea levels threaten coastal native villages.But to the scientists from Woods Hole Research Center who have come here to study the effects of climate change, the most urgent is the fate of permafrost, the always-frozen ground that underlies much of the state.”

Too Hot to Fly? Climate Change May Take a Toll on Air Travel – The New York Times

“In recent days, American Airlines has been forced to cancel more than 40 flights in Phoenix. The reason: With daytime highs hovering around 120 degrees, it was simply too hot for some smaller jets to take off. Hotter air is thinner air, which makes it more difficult — and sometimes impossible — for planes to generate enough lift.

As the global climate changes, disruptions like these are likely to become more frequent, researchers say, potentially making air travel costlier and less predictable with a greater risk of injury to travelers from increased turbulence.

“We tend to ignore the atmosphere and just think that the plane is flying through empty space, but of course, it’s not,” said Paul D. Williams, a professor in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading in Britain who studies climate change and its effect on aviation. “Airplanes do not fly through a vacuum. The atmosphere is being modified by climate change.” “

Mapping 50 Years of Melting Ice in Glacier National Park – The New York Times

“Glacier National Park is losing its glaciers.The flowing sheets of ice scattered throughout the Montana park shrank by more than a third between 1966 and 2015, according to new data from the United States Geological Survey and Portland State University.

Using aerial and satellite imagery, researchers traced the footprints of 39 named glaciers in the park and surrounding national forest. They found that 10 had lost more than half their area over 50 years.”

As Rising Seas Erode Shorelines Tasmania Shows What Can Be Lost – The New York Times

“Over the long term, the rise of the sea appears to be accelerating because of runaway growth in greenhouse emissions, and scientists fear much bigger effects this century, perhaps so large they could ultimately force the abandonment of entire coastlines.

Though awareness of the risk to historic sites and natural wonders is growing, the effort to tackle the problem is in its infancy. In most places, discussion and report-writing have yet to give way to concrete action. “We’re a long way from managing this issue well,” said Adam Markham, who is deputy director for climate and energy with the Union of Concerned Scientists, an American group, and who was the lead author of the most recent report on world heritage sites.”