Six months after the fact, much of the New York area is still recovering from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, people are still displaced from their homes, we’re still learning unsettling new facts by the day. So, here’s a viscerally gross one: according to a new report from Climate Central, the storm unleashed 11 billion gallons of sewage into New York waterways, enough to cover the entirety of Central Park. That is so much sewage.
Much of the overflow (or, as the Daily News helpfully called it, an overwhelming “brown tide”) headed toward the New York and New Jersey coastlines, overwhelming treatment facilities and leaving waterfront areas awash in raw or partially treated sewage. As for overflow from the city’s actual sewer system, the actual damage is unknown. “We couldn’t get those numbers,” an official told the paper.
While officials rushed at the time to provide sanitized drinking water to residents of coastal areas and keep swimmers, boaters, and fishermen out of the toxic waters (and much of the waste has since dissipated), the report indicates that the longer-term environmental effects of such an onslaught are largely unknown. So, a solid opportunity for poop jokes, yes, but also a truly horrifying new aspect of Sandy cleanup to keep us up at night. Just what everyone was hoping for, I know.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.