Skip to content Skip to footer

What NYC flooding reveals about the future of the great metropolis

At the start of the month, a viral video of New Yorkers waddling in waist-high water due to massive flooding in NYC was shared all over social media. The viral video with thousands of views and comments on Twitter and Instagram, had a wide range of comments.

Some comments shared their disgust at the murky waters, vowing to never enter, opting to walk or take an expensive Uber. While others voiced their confusion on the city’s crumbling infrastructure.

NYC is not prepared for major flooding

Photo credit: Angela Weiss via Getty Images

Instagram user, Kdridan, commented,  “This is an example of how overpriced our city is to live in with poor infrastructure.”

His comment received over 1,000 likes, along with 71 replies with others agreeing with him.

In a recent NYT article, the subway water problem was attributed to global warming. The ancient and outdated NYC subway system is not meant to accommodate heavy storms, a climate change phenomenon.

Global warming isn’t only causing issues in the subways, the air quality of the city is being affected as well.

Just this week a TikTok video was created, showing viewers a hazy NYC sky caused by wildfires. The user, bagshopnyc, captioned the video, “Today while billionaire Jeff Bezos went to space, NYC experienced the worst air quality in 7 years due to wildfires 2,500 mile away.”

Accuweather announced, due to the wildfires, the air quality index in the city was at a dangerous level, advising citizens to limit outdoor exposure. The AQI reached 137, the highest level this year, which could cause breathing issues, and throat irritation, especially to sensitive individuals.

Exposing New Yorkers to danger

Not only is the smoke in the air dangerous, but so is flood water. Users on social media made jokes about not wanting to dip into the dirty water but weren’t aware of how toxic floodwater actually is.

Alex Petrovnia, a hydrologist specializing in infectious diseases, shared an important thread informing how dangerous the water is in NYC.

“If water reaches a certain level these flows will back up and combine. Meaning, sewage will mix with stormwater and floodwater is a combination of these…In fact, death and disease from sanitation concerns AFTER a flood are often deadlier than the flood itself,” he tweeted.

NYC flooding sparks criticism of capitalism

Under his tweet, discussions ensued on the working class not having a choice to avoid the subways despite flood water being dangerous. For some, they can’t afford to miss a day of work no matter the weather conditions.

The conversation then turned into one about capitalism, and how it could be dangerous to the middle class. Everyday people can’t control global warming, but are forced to face the consequences head-on since they live in a capitalist society. The very capitalism that directly contributes to global warming.

Under the thread, Twitter users questioned why the city doesn’t step in within these situations, suggesting the mayor give everyone a day off, especially if there are any harmful effects with the mode of transportation.

On Instagram, users underneath the viral New Yorkers subway video shared the same resentment toward capitalism.

“This is what capitalist infrastructure collapsing around us due to climate change looks like and the US will handle it like COVID…leaving the poor to suffer and pay the price,” says user whitesaucenohotsauce, his comment receiving over a hundred likes.

So where do we, and the city, go from here?

Even with mass social media attention, there has been no immediate action to prevent flooding in the subways.

The City reports that the MTA repairs meant to protect from intensive weather have not been finished.

For now, New Yorkers have to remain cautious during wild weather, and try their best to avoid fatal situations.