AWhen the thunderstorm finally came to South Williamsburg in Brooklyn on Monday night, a couple of teens danced in the street, as they had previously danced under open hydrants. Here people like to put chairs on the street, sometimes a barbecue, speakers. And even the smallest children are allowed to play late at night under the fountains of the hydrants. Opening the water dispensers is allowed under certain circumstances. On hot days, the city sends out volunteers as a "Hydrant Education Action" group to show people how to properly open and close the hydrants. So the city wants to avoid excessive waste and damage to the extinguishing water systems.
But the closing usually came off last weekend. The hydrants splashed water on those who could stand it outside until the early morning. The authorities had actually recommended staying right in when temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius for three days. "Attention, New York City," tweeted the police department after the city had declared a state of emergency. "Sunday has been canceled. Stay inside, there is nothing to see out here. Really, we have everything under control. "The colleagues on duty should be thanked with a nice smile, but please not with hugs.
Heat as a cause of death
In some places, temperature records have been broken in recent days. So Boston experienced the hottest days ever recorded there. Scientists believe that the increasingly extreme summers are a consequence of man-made climate change. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, an association of environmental and energy researchers, hundreds of cities could soon experience such summers each year. The "silent killer" heat is one of the most common weather-related causes of death, said climate analyst Adam Kalkstein of the West Point Military Academy of the USA Today: "If our calculations are correct, the number of dangerous days across the country will soon be approaching increase dramatically. "
At least six people are said to have died nationwide as a result of this heatwave. If people do not manage to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years, then cities like Boston could soon experience as many days of extreme heat as southern locations. More and more people would then want to migrate north, experts predict. And for days of extreme heat the infrastructure is not set up in many places.
If all New Yorkers run their air conditioners at the same time, 24 hours a day, the system comes to its limit. Appeals to turn off the equipment in between, help little. At least 50,000 people were out of town in the city on Sundays. "It's the third day of a heat wave, so the system is now boiling properly," said a spokesman for the energy utility Con Edison. Customers hit hardest in Brooklyn, in the neighborhoods of Carnasie, Mill Basin and Flatbush. There ConEdison turned off 30,000 people to prevent a major failure, as Mayor de Blasio told Twitter. On Monday, around 21,000 households still had to manage without lights and air conditioning. However, Con Edison promised to fix the problem until the afternoon. Governor Andrew Cuomo sent 200 additional state police officers to the city on Sunday, and delivered 100 generators and 50 light systems to the affected areas. It was already the second big "blackout" in a row, in the previous week over 70,000 people were affected in Manhattan.
Prisons are not air-conditioned
Especially the elderly suffered from the heat, hundreds of times emergency services had to help them on weekends, according to the authorities. Meanwhile, lawyers accused the city of making the conditions for prisoners unbearable. Most cells in New York prisons are not air-conditioned. At the request of the "Legal Aid Society" to relocate inmates of the Rikers Island Detention Center or to procure air conditioning systems, the authorities remained hard. According to local media, the administration only promised to give the people concerned summer clothes and to bring more fans into the cells. During the cold snap in February, there had been days of protests in front of a jail in Brooklyn, where the inmates had to endure without heating.
Mayor de Blasio, meanwhile, turned the situation politically and focused on the mistakes of utility company Con Edison. He threatened that ConEd might lose the city contract. "If Con Ed can not give us satisfying answers – why these things happen and what they want to do differently to prevent them – why rely on a private company for such a vital thing?" De Blasio asked in Brooklyn on Monday. "We do not depend on private companies for the water supply, the police and the fire service either. If they do not do their job right, then it's time to look for other alternatives. "