Superstorm Sandy

October 30, 2012

Sandy appears to have been re-named.  She is no longer the “Frankenstorm”- she is the “Superstorm”.  That part seems a pity, especially since this is Halloween.  It can also be argued that if the goal is to bring attention to the enormity of a weather event, calling her the “Frankenstorm” does a much better job.  After all, everything from laundry detergent to the size of soda is “super” now and so that appellation actually seems to be more the norm, and Sandy is decidedly not that.

Simple semantics aside, Sandy has wrecked a good part of the East Coast.  By this morning, 320,000 Marylanders did not have power-about 8 million people nationally are without power.  Parts of West Virginia and Maryland have upwards of two feet of snow.  Flooding is widespread and public transportation has been disrupted.  There has been the loss of lives.  Right now it is 40 degrees outside and it is hard to wrap around the notion that we have both a hurricane and a blizzard nearly simultaneously.  Maryland is a perfect example:  the Eastern Shore area has several towns that are flooded while the western mountain region has that two feet of snow.  Incredible.

Best wishes to all who have been affected.

Take care.

We Have Been Here Before

October 29, 2012

Pre Hurricane Sandy Sky in Fells Point (wide)

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Yesterday morning, as Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the Mid-Atlantic, the skies took on that characteristic bruised, pre-storm look.

Pre Hurricane Sandy Sky in Fells Point (close)

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It was just over a year ago, August 20th, that Hurricane Irene hit this area before moving north and devastating New England.  The same thing could well happen again…

Truck delivering sand for bagging

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…and so loads of sand were trucked in by the city so that residents of Fells Point could prepare for the much-anticipated flooding.  This is a very large storm and with the cold front that is coming from the west, it is anticipated that Sandy will stall over Maryland and dump upwards of ten inches of rain on the middle and eastern parts of the state.  The mountains in western Maryland are expecting a blizzard with up to ten inches of snow predicted.

Filling sandbags in advance of Hurricane Sandy

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Filling sandbags

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Sandbags being filled

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The rain will combine the full moon induced high tide and expected storm surge to create ideal flood conditions, which is a concern…

Sandbags placed to prevent flooding

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Filled sandbags placed to prevent flooding

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…because Fells Point is directly adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay and has flooded before.  As a result, residents and business owners were doing what they could to prevent the incursion of water.

Street Closed barrier

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Thames Street was closed in advance of Hurricane Irene last year.  As a result of some nearby road construction, some streets in Fells Point were already closed and others were soon-to-be closed in order to keep traffic out of this low-lying area.

Traffic jam at sandbag filling station

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

However, Fells Point is a very popular destination and so the usual traffic combined with the large dump trucks and folks loading sandbags led to some confusion in the early morning.

Sandbags near Street Closed sign

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Within this past year-and-a-half or so Maryland has been hit by Hurricane Irene, a derecho, and now Hurricane Sandy-the tenth hurricane of the 2012 season. (We also had an earthquake within that time period, just for good measure.)  This amount of weather mayhem seems outside the norm for the Mid-Atlantic, and the combination of a hurricane with a classic nor’easter is most likely one for the books.  Yes, we have been here before with regard to hurricanes, and not that long ago.  Sandy has arrived (and is putting down quite a bit of rain) so the real question is where we will go from here.  Very little is being said about climate change as we roll on toward the election, which is not surprising.  However, the role climate change plays in these storms, climate attribution as it is called, is getting more attention.  The science appears to be not clear on this point as yet-I wonder how much clarity there will be by next year’s hurricane season.

Take care.

Frankenstorm

October 27, 2012

The descriptor for Hurricane Sandy is “Frankenstorm” as it appears that this storm will swing back over the Mid-Atlantic coast and head for the Great Lakes as another, much colder, storm moves from the north and west toward her.  It also appears that Sandy is having difficulty determining the type of storm she wants to be-tropical or hurricane.

Time will certainly tell if Sandy lives up to this moniker.

Which brings to a point a characteristic of hurricanes as natural disasters that does not present with flash floods or tornadoes, and absolutely not earthquakes:  one must wait for a hurricane.  And given the current state of technology, hurricanes are predicted, plotted, and tracked for days  and weeks until dissipating many, many miles from the point of origin.  Whatever the adjectives or qualifiers used the description, the real concern is the damage wrought between the beginning and the end.

More later.

Take care.

Nature and Not

October 25, 2012

Sumac leaves in fall

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I have spent most of the past two photographic years in cities making images of trash and other assorted city-related, human-created stuff.  This past weekend, on a drive out into the country, the fall colour in early morning light garnered my attention in a way that made me want to get out of the city for a while and touch base with nature.  Now, that did not actually happen, but the feeling certainly was there.  However, it did get me going on the manner in which humans have gone about the transformation of the natural to the decidedly un-natural (or not natural. Non-natural?)   The following is a short photo-essay of the juxtaposition of the biologically created and human-made.

Weathered siding and vines

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Highway overpass and vines

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Sometimes it seems as if nature is trying to choke the life out of our creations…

Sycamore tree trunk next to parking sign

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…while at other times it seems as if it she trying to sneak up and take back what was once hers…

Vines surrounding window of abandoned foundation

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…or surround and contain the intrusion.

 

Dead fish among debris in water

Copyright 2010 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Of course, in some cases, maybe most cases, nature really does not have a chance.

Unless one thinks about climatic weather (Hurricane Sandy) or pathogens (MRSA).  Yes, humans play a role in these events-climate change, wetland destruction, and building in impact zones regardless of weather patterns for the former; the overuse of antibiotics (in both humans and animals) in the latter.  So, perhaps, ultimately nature wins out.

It would be so much better to achieve a sustainable co-existance.  What are the chances of that?

Take care.

Fells Point Condestruction

October 17, 2012

Several building under reconstruction

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There was a fire in the  historic area of Fells Point, Maryland earlier this summer and as a result, several buildings are undergoing re-construction.  The facades appear to be relatively intact, while the remainder of the structures have been removed.

Front of building under reconstruction

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The loss of the other three walls and roof creates a singular visual.  As such, this is a reminder of the WWII era photographs of the bombed-out buildings in London and numerous other cities after the air raids…

Building interior under reconstruction

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…which in both cases left the interiors open to the elements.  Such is the nature of trauma-that which remains is left raw and exposed.

I just finished reading Laurence Gonzales’ Surviving Survival, which describes the process by which trauma survivors are able, or not, to move forward with their lives.  Highly recommended.   (This is the follow-up to his also excellent Deep  Survival.)   One factor that contributes to survivability is resilience-the ability to take life on its terms and continue going.  Reading this has helped me see these buildings in a completely different way.  The old and the damaged has been stripped away and a newness will take its place that will at once be the same and yet different.  New visitors who had not previously been in these buildings will most likely not notice the changes mandated by the burning.  However, those most close and familiar will be able to tell as nothing is quite the same after such an insult.  The memories will remain.

Superficially, it seems somewhat an easier process for the re-building of a physical structure as that involves things-bricks, mortar, plaster, wood, money.  However, looking at the top two photographs with this idea in mind calls an even greater attention to that which is quite obvious when seen both literally and figuratively: these facades are supported by strong braces.  Without those braces, the remaining edifice would crumble.  With the braces, they are able to stand for the time it will take to re-build and connect to the rest of the structure.  It most likely would have been easier to tear down everything and start again completely, however, the very nature and character of these structures would then have been lost. After all, the front of any building provides the initial point of interest and contact, and therefore is an emotional as well as a physical asset.  Much is the same with the human face.

And so it is with human trauma as well.  Gonzales writes that  a strong support system-someone, and in many cases, some thing, on which to lean,  is one of the key factors in surviving survival.  Such support allows time for the re-building of the body’s physical structure.  At the same time, re-building the psyche means moving on with the memories of what once was and going toward the what might be.  Doing so can be of a magnitude greater and having the proper support for that is critical.

Take care.