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I Hope This Soggy Postcard From New York City Finds You Well

On floating cars, subway slip-‘n-slides, and a whirlpool in Brooklyn

Person holding umbrella in very large puddle.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

It’s raining in New York City, which means two things: You’ve for some reason heard about it even if you live nowhere near the Tri-State area, and also nothing is working.

As a metropolis that runs on the fumes of pure defiance and chaos magic even during the best of times, New York was understandably struggling to stay afloat after a month’s worth of rain fell within a few hours on Friday morning. Subway staircases transformed into white-water obstacles more befitting of Action Park than America’s most populous city, while trash cans embarked from their curbside moorings, destined for unknown shores. Cars — half-submerged and looking curiously hippopotamine — nosed their way through the city’s new waterways. The Central Park sea lion exhibit overflowed with, well, sea lions. A manhole outside Joe’s Pizza in the East Village caught fire, the result of short-circuiting electrical cables. In Brooklyn, inexplicably, a whirlpool appeared.

With Friday already the eighth wettest day in Central Park’s 154 years of recorded history, preliminarily the wettest day ever at JFK Airport (with 7.88” inches since midnight), and inches more rain still to come, Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency and drew comparisons to Hurricane Ida, which killed 11 people in basement apartments in Queens in 2021. (At least six people had been rescued by the FDNY from basements by Friday afternoon, The Washington Post reported; so far, no deaths have been recorded). Mayor Eric Adams, who’d spent the evening before the storm celebrating his Sept. 1st birthday with a fundraiser, “defended his failure to address the public about the storm until almost noon today,” The New York Times reported.

Warning or no, the city that prides itself on not slowing down even to sleep squelched to a soggy standstill ahead of the evening commute. Trains were out of service, or running with severe limitations. Kids were marooned at school. Terminal A at LaGuardia Airport remained closed, with more than 3,000 flights delayed due to the storm.

And yet — undeterred by the reminder that we live in a city made up of islands waiting to be reclaimed by the sea or that all this is one more chilling sign that our warming atmosphere can hold more water — some plans, in that New Yorker way, stubbornly held. Around 2:30 p.m., the New York Film Festival cheerfully shared that it had released more tickets for its opening night film.

The show must go on! You just have to wade there.

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    Jeva Lange

    Jeva is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Her writing has also appeared in The Week, where she formerly served as executive editor and culture critic, as well as in The New York Daily News, Vice, and Gothamist, among others. Jeva lives in New York City. Read More

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    A Hilariously Sad Chart of COP28 Climate Pledges

    See if you can identify the biggest scrooge here.

    A woman in Tuvalu.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Early on Thursday, the first day of the UN Climate Conference in Dubai, world leaders secured an agreement for a fund that will help vulnerable nations deal with the impacts of climate change. My colleague Charu has written about the fund in more detail, but I was curious about one thing: How do these pledges compare to each country’s GDP? The answer is hilariously stark — I originally tried making a chart of these pledges as a fraction of GDP, but they simply didn’t show up on the axes.

    Chart of pledges vs GDP.

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