I too watched, rapt, as that short-lived daily reality show played out in Houston, Texas. It was the Hurricane Harvey impact and effect, wreaking its fury on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
And as I watched that waterlogged city and hundreds of thousands of people trying to cope with nature’s wrath, I couldn’t help thinking Thank God I’m not there.
What a catastrophe playing out before our eyes, live… people wading in flood waters, up to six feet deep, deeper in some places, according to reports. All those people were essentially fighting (against the effects of) nature for their lives. In the process, all their belongings: fancy homes, one-two-or three floors, automobiles… were consumed by nature’s power and revenge. Something about that new phenomenon, climate change… global warming… mankind’s misuse of the environment, something numerous scientists (climatologists) have been warning [us] about.
Call Houston, another powerful example of nature’s pushback.
A warming to people, climate change skeptics (deniers) like the U.S. president and his cronies. During his run for that high office he called climate change “a hoax created by the Chinese.”
Never mind that man.
So we were in Montreal, safe and sound, not wading Gulf waters like those people in Houston. That’s not to say that West Island residents and other parts of Quebec that were swamped with floodwater were not impacted as badly as those people in the southwest U.S. The West Island flood disaster paled by comparison, but the misery and inconvenience are relative.
We watched an example of the manifestations of climate change that August afternoon as we worked in the west end office of the Montreal CommunityContact. There we were taking care of business in a room with three large windows facing west, and things gradually began to get darker, then windy, then rainy… blinding rain against the window; it was like a winter storm. For about five minutes it was white. There was a (silent, but palpable) sense of trepidation for that five or so minutes that afternoon as we sat in the office while nature wreaked havoc on parts of west-end Montreal, as well as other parts of the province.
Then a sort of calm amidst a cacophony of siren sounds: police, Urgence Santé, fire trucks, and people emerging from hiding places to see the effects of what’s called a microburst. And then word came of the damage to nearby Girouard Park.
And as I walked along Sherbrooke Street later it truly was (that overused word) surreal: broken branches on the street slowing traffic, and then the hardest hit, the well-known park with broken and uprooted trees. And every time I pass by these days I can’t help but look at the destruction wreaked by a five-minute storm, and reflect on what used to be a nice, welcoming and fun place for people who live in the area and outside as well.
Right now Girouard Park is like a house without a roof. If you enjoy the canopy in the spring and summer, then it’ll be several years before things are back to normal. But if you like skies, you’re in luck, there’s now less green more blue. You’ll just have to make do.
On CBC radio 88.5 “populist magazine show” Day 6 last Saturday, September 2, one of the subjects was Hurricane Harvey and its wrath in the Gulf. The guest spoke of the ongoing research into climate change and the potential for more of what happened in Houston, TX. Apparently, scientific findings relating to climate change and the potential for serious weather-related phenomena were made available to municipal authorities and urban planners, but were shelved. Seeing the city under “trillions of gallons of water” the woman said she and her organization took no pride in saying: “We told you so…”
Another CBC daily magazine, The Current, with host Anna Maria Tremonti, this past Tuesday morning allocated a full hour of the weekday program to the urgency of climate change and its manifestations… Ravaging forest fires in Fort McMurray, AB. last summer and British Columbia this summer; forest fires and floods in parts of Europe; deadly floods in Asia; famines and droughts in parts of Africa… Humankind’s misuse of Earth is taking a serious toll on both land (public and private) and human lives.
The discussion on this episode of the Current was to make Canadians – especially property owners – aware of the growing impact of climate change and our preparedness for unusually destructive weather. Property owners especially, it was emphasized, must rethink the way [we] have been living. It means rethinking where we choose to live, how homes are constructed, among other fundamental issues, which will make residential areas more secure – especially flood resistant.
The city of Burlington, Ont. that was hit by a cloudburst on August 4, 2014, which resulted in massive flooding was used as an example of what’s to come.
Anecdotes of flooded basements and ruined homes among other damage were used as a clarion call to Canadians to prepare for what, in this era of climate change and manifestations, will be the norm.
One newspaper article on the storm stated, “due to the intensity, the storm generated significant runoff in a short period of time (flash flood) which flooded homes, businesses, parks…closed roads, and flooded motor vehicles…”
It resulted in the city instituting stringent construction guidelines for developers… In the wake of that storm one headline read, “Burlington flood: Cities face ‘new breed’ of storms, climatologist says.’”
That event caused more than $90 million damage.
And by the way Hurricane Harvey is referred to as the “10th billion-dollar disaster in the U.S. with damage estimates running as high as $180 billion.
All that to say, one guest on The Current said more of those flood disasters will be coming north. “We do not have the luxury of time… It’s all about climate change and “human adaptation…”
And preparedness.