A week after typhoon Isaias hit the northeast of the United States, tens of thousands of families are still living in the dark and have not yet restored power. Once again, the much criticized infrastructure construction in the United States has been widely questioned and dissatisfied by the masses.
category I hurricane Isaias landed in the northeast of the United States on August 4. At one time, more than 2 million homes were cut off. However, as of today’s morning of August 11, according to the New York Times, at least 43000 households have not yet restored power, mainly in New York and Connecticut. Nearby New Jersey also had a large-scale power outage before, until August 10, the basic recovery.
Con Edison, the second largest power company in the United States, has a total of 257000 households without power. The company’s annual investment in infrastructure has been about 3 billion US dollars, which is still not enough to maintain the power system for a long time. According to the report released by Con Edison in 2019, it is estimated that by 2050, it may cost 180 million to 5.2 billion US dollars to deal with the threat of various natural disasters to existing systems.
eversource has more than 400000 households without power. A company spokesman said they needed to remove 3500 trees and reset or replace 137 miles of power lines, basically equivalent to building a new power transmission system from scratch. Eversource said it had previously underestimated the damage the typhoon could cause, resulting in such a large-scale power outage, but the local state government said it did not buy in.
the old and dilapidated power system in the United States is not a new topic, especially in areas where low and middle-income groups gather. Coney Island in New York City, for example, is a half-hour drive from Manhattan, a small island known for its playgrounds and resorts, but has yet to recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Even in the non hurricane season, the region often experiences short power outages for one or two hours.
in the context of the spread of Xinguan epidemic, it is more dangerous for the elderly and people with physical health status to power off for a long time at this moment. At the height of New York State’s epidemic in May, Coney Island had one of the highest per capita mortality rates. Some people in hospitals and nursing homes need to rely on powered medical equipment to help them breathe. Power failure will make these people directly face life danger.
mark treyger, a member of the New York City Council, said, “the new crown epidemic has dealt a particularly heavy blow to communities like Coney Island, and the blackout has made it worse.”
according to the classification method of the United States, the incoming typhoon Isaias is a class I hurricane, with the maximum sustained storm of 33-42 M / s. Generally speaking, typhoons of this level will not cause actual damage to buildings, but will only cause damage to non fixed RV, shrubs and trees.
local residents such as New York State also reflected that they did not think that the typhoon was particularly strong. The wind and rain lasted only a few hours, and they did not expect to cause such serious consequences.
the main reason for large-scale blackouts is that trees overwhelm the power poles or the poles fall down. Obviously, the reason is that the backward power infrastructure can not afford even the foreseeable and conventional natural disasters.
in 2019, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) pointed out that the annual life expectancy of most transmission and distribution lines in the United States is long overdue. Infrastructure problems do not only exist in the power system. ASCE has estimated that by 2025, the United States will need to spend at least $4.5 trillion to improve the state of the country’s roads, bridges, dams, airports, schools and other facilities.
the governors of New York and Connecticut both called this week to investigate why it took so long to restore power. New York governor Cuomo has launched similar initiatives many times before, but no follow-up progress has been made. For example, trump began to advocate large-scale infrastructure construction four years before his election campaign. Since the end of March, he has often hyped the trillion dollar infrastructure plan, but he has not seen any substantial progress.
large scale infrastructure construction can actually create jobs, increase the income of ordinary residents, and thus promote GDP growth. However, politicians are only lip service, but they are not willing to contribute to the implementation of people’s livelihood issues. This is mainly because this policy will harm the interests of the consortium. The infrastructure of the rich communities in the United States is usually supported by local taxes and well maintained. The poor communities need government subsidies because of insufficient taxes. If the government raises taxes to fund infrastructure, the rich are not willing to pay for it. If the government prints money or issues bonds to support infrastructure construction, the amount of money in circulation will increase, which will cause the wealth of the rich with huge assets to shrink, which will also be opposed by consortia. As a result, the consortia will not allow the US government to choose the road of infrastructure until it is absolutely necessary.
hurricane season is far from over. The U.S. National Weather Service predicted last week that there could be up to 25 named storms this year, more than the average annual level of 12. This typhoon Isaias is only the ninth. Even if the power supply is restored after maintenance, it is still difficult to ensure the normal operation of the system in the next typhoon. ‘obviously, we are still not ready for the typhoon,’ Mr. Traeger said.
in addition to typhoons that occur more frequently than in previous years, the United States is also faced with multiple risks, such as the out of control normalization of the new crown epidemic situation, large-scale unemployment and bankruptcy tide, continuous fermentation of domestic ethnic unrest, and anxious election situation. The political and economic situation to be faced next is likely to be more severe.