Subject: Viridian Note 00120: Viridian Disasters

Key concepts: weather disasters, freak storm, Paris

Attention Conservation Notice: Why read email about horrific weather in the capital of France? It's all over the news anyway.

Source: Suzanne Daley, New York Times wire service;
Austin American Statesman, Pages A-1 and A-13, December 27, 1999

Links: Viridian archive Notes 00021, 00022, 00023, 00050

(((Here's a hearty welcome for the New Year. Paris is a freak weather disaster area. No, not Venezuela, not Orissa; Paris.)))

"Deadly Storm Surprises Europe"

(((Spectacular photo of eviscerated building spewing insulation.))) "In France, residents make their way through the debris of a building roof that fell in the street in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives, Normandy, on Sunday. Hurricane-force winds blasted across northern France and parts of Switzerland and Germany on Sunday, injuring hundreds and killing as many as 62 people. Winds reached an unprecedented 95 mph in the heart of Paris. Damage was extensive. Story, A13."

(((Believe it or not, not every storm that's out there can win the coveted title of "Viridian Disaster." I didn't even break stride over those tens of thousands of hapless Venezuelans recently buried in mud. But hey: unprecedented ninety-five mile-an-hour winds, pouncing on Paris out of nowhere? That's like something out of a J. G. Ballard novel.)))

"The freak gales, which reached an unprecedented 95 mph in the heart of Paris, left broken branches and uprooted trees along the Champs Elysee, smashed windows at Versailles and littered Paris with twisted awnings, roof tiles and Christmas trees ripped from their planters. (((So much for the "wired trees" of downtown Paris (see Viridian Note 00050). Certain trees of Paris had computer chips inside them that were supposed to give readouts of their "location, age, and condition." One rather doubts they were programmed to read "I'm underfoot in the Champs Elysee, crushed by historically unprecedented winds.")))

"Rows of neatly parked motorcycles lay mangled in piles in the streets, and huge sheets of roofing and television dishes rested in gutters." (((Very nice touch there with the blown-away satellite dishes. This isn't just any old village laid waste here; it's the global village.))) "Many Paris tourist sites closed for fear of further falling debris, including Disneyland Paris, where six people were injured by falling branches." (((A weather disaster in Disneyland. Enough said.)))

"Most of Paris' gardens and public spaces aren't expected to open until late today as crews work to remove debris. Mayor Jean Tiberi called for the city to be declared a disaster area and asked for state money to help with repairs." (((State money, is it? I suppose weather insurance would be out of the question these days == see Viridian Notes 00021, 00022, 00023.)))

"The storm also pushed tons of spilled fuel oil onto the beaches along France's Atlantic coast, where bad weather has hindered efforts to contain the damage caused two weeks ago when a tanker broke up in stormy seas." (((One might have known there would be a "Wexelblat disaster" angle to all this. Dripping oil spills, plus broken tankers, plus weather violence; could there be a Baudelarian poetic connection here? No, no... it's too ironic and cynical.)))

"Stormy weather had been predicted, but the force of the winds took meteorologists by surprise. In Paris, such winds have never been recorded before, officials said." (((If today's meteorologists don't somehow get over their permanent state of befuddled surprise, they'll lose all credibility. It's simple, fellas: you just look into the camera and say, "It is the Greenhouse Effect. It's all surprises now.")))

"In France, 2 million households were without power Sunday." (((Hope they can tell this apart from the effects of Y2K.)))

"In Paris, falling debris was blamed for most deaths. In Argenteuil, a couple died when the roof of their apartment building caved in. One woman, apparently walking her dog, drowned when she was swept into a river near Strasbourg, France. One woman was blown into Le Havre harbor.

"In Switzerland, where winds reached 120 mph, a skier was killed in the resort of Crans Montana when an uprooted tree crashed into the cable of a ski lift, sending the gondola they were in crashing down."

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