Holiday storms bring death, calm, reflection
Winter storms in the UK and parts of the US and Canada have wreaked havoc this holiday season. While rain and wind battered Britain, flooding several areas, ice storms in New England, the Great Lakes region and Ontario caused wide scale power outages and 19 deaths. Britain is now bracing for more floods and as of writing this tens of thousands of Canadians are still without power.
For some a lack of electricity and other modern conveniences posed less of a danger and provided some insight into how life used to be (and may some day be again). Once your power is off, there goes your internet, TV, lights, and then your smartphone battery runs out. Then, Christmas or no, it’s time to light the candles, observe nature or talk with your loved ones. Though this thought alone is enough to send some people fumbling around in the dark in search of the keys to the liquor cabinet, others have a different perspective.
From Philip Hoare’s quite beautifully written opinion piece for the Guardian:
It’s an uneasy but welcome truce in the capitalist war. Like the silence after the Icelandic volcanic explosion of 2010, when suddenly the birds could be heard over the airports again, the storms of this week have reinforced that interruption. They left my house leaking with the force of horizontal rain driven into its cracks, the streets and rail tracks blocked by trees, and the phone cut off: a blissful state of imposed silence, and a reminder that even here, in the soft, cosseted, perennially connected south, we are not as in control as we thought we were. That our supposed dominion does not quite hold illimitable sway.
I guess Hoare is talking about the relative economic and political power of the south of England when compared to the rest of the UK and how a bit of nature can challenge this perceived position of safety and comfort. Though in truth Mother Nature is always ready to deliver a reality check, money does pad the rich from the brunt of her fury. After all, who will suffer (and who will benefit) if and when California faces drought conditions?
Make no mistake, winter floods in the UK have the power to destroy lives. But the insights they may provide about a modern affluent existence, while valuable, are not the main story. Likewise the ice storms in Canada and the US. What death and destruction should highlight, besides the power of nature, is the power (or lack thereof) of people to protect themselves from its dangers based on the distribution of resources, as exemplified by November’s Typhoon in the Philippines.
Then there are always beautiful, surreal photo opportunities, like swans swimming down a flooded English street.