5.30pm This picture is going to look quaint really fast.
(The picture above is from Hurricane Donna in 1960 – a storm this is supposed to be worse than – at what is now the WTC site. All those cute little donut shops…)
Eyes still on America. Phone calls and Facebook messages, and aware that if those things cut out then a wait to find out how people are affected. One person has written to say thank God they were persuaded to buy a generator this summer. (From North London this appears almost the most recherché domestic purchase it’s possible to imagine, but there was a run on them yesterday in the tri-state area.)
Regular readers will be pleased to know that the Baroque Mom is now living far enough south in North Carolina that all they had there was some really very bad weather. So her Sandy s safely over, I think, and we’re all watching NYC batten down its hatches, as the rain and winds build up. Baroque has friends in Philadelphia and Boston too, to say nothing of Connecticut, and it is just a bit anxiety-inducing.
As I write, now editing in at 5.30pm, the Brooklyn Bridge webcam is down, and Facebook is slowly filling with pictures of floodwater rising all over New York City. The subway looks weirdly vulnerable. I even felt strange when I had a bath, with the laptop on the lid of the loo so I could watch BBC News – each little splash seemed an augury. The announcers are saying ‘tidal surge’ a lot but in a very ‘tsunami’ tone of voice. When one of them, standing by the very Brooklyn Bridge that I can no longer see the camera for, talked about the winds as it hits land ‘driving a wall of water straight at New York City’, I have to admit it sounded a bit different from ‘tidal surge’ which just sounds like ‘high waves’.
America has been battered by these storms recently; I don’t remember anything quite like this when I was growing up. This was going to be a politics-free post, what with Obama down to masterfully directing the emergency effort, and Grubby-Mitts Romney off to the Midwest ‘to keep out of the way of emergency services and state officials’, and me with other things I’d rather think about.
But this seems like a good moment to share this:
And as the flood waters pour in and one of the world’s major financial centres is battered by a potential tsunami, it’s also a good moment to remind everyone that Romney wants to cut FEMA, the federal disaster relief agency. You’d think his advisors would have advised against this, so soon after Katrina, but you can read exactly what he said. He thinks it’s ‘immoral’ to put federal money into disaster relief.
Well, it’s good to have the facts.
Mitt’s campaigning as hard and as slickly as he can, today, all smiles and plastic flags, while Obama mans the barricades. What a patsy that guy is.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled broadcast.
Because today is also the full moon – a situation that isn’t expected to help – and indeed nearly Halloween, I thought this poem by Rimbaud might be somehow suitable. Needless to say, I’m hoping that this isn’t a description of New York on Wednesday.
After the Flood
As soon as the idea of the Deluge had subsided,
A hare stopped in the clover and swaying flowerbells, and said a prayer to the rainbow, through the spider’s web.
Oh! the precious stones that hid themselves, – and the flowers that already looked round.
In the dirty main street, stalls were set up and boats were hauled toward the sea, piled high as in engravings.
Blood flowed at Bluebeard’s house, – at slaughterhouses – in the circuses, where the seal of God blanched the windows. Blood and milk flowed.
Beavers built. Coffee puffed steam in the cafés.
In the great house of windows, still dripping, children in mourning looked at the marvellous pictures.
A door slammed, and in the village square the child waved his arms, understood by weather vanes and steeple cocks everywhere, in the glittering downpour.
Madame xxx installed a piano in the Alps. Mass and first communions were celebrated at the hundred thousand altars of the cathedral.
The caravans left. And Hotel Splendide was built in the chaos of ice and polar night.
Since then, the Moon has heard the jackals howling from the deserts of thyme, - and eclogues in wooden shoes growling in the orchard. Then in the violet and burgeoning forest, Eucharis told me it was spring.
Gush, pond, – Foam, roll over the bridge and over the woods; - black sheets and organs, – lightning and thunder, – rise and roll; - Waters and sorrows, rise and raise the Floods.
For since they have been gone - oh! the precious stones burrowing under, and the open flowers! - it’s so boring! and the Queen, the Witch who lights her coals in the clay pot, will never tell us what she knows, and what we do not know.
And meanwhile, with no witches involved, here is a suitably mythic image I captured at about 3pm London time from the Brooklyn Bridge livecam. Click to see what it’s doing now.
After Rimbaud: a picture that only looks like 1899.