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When the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped record-breaking rain on the East Coast this month, staircases into New York City's subway tunnels turned into waterfalls and train tracks became canals.
In Philadelphia, a commuter line along the Schuylkill River was washed out for miles, and the nation's busiest rail line, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor running from Boston to Washington, was shut down for an entire day.
Nearly a decade after Superstorm Sandy spurred billions of dollars in investment in coastal flooding protection up and down the East Coast — some of which remains unfinished — Hurricane Ida and other storms this summer provided a stark reminder that more needs to be done — and quickly — as climate change brings stronger, more unpredictable weather to a region with some of the nation's oldest and busiest transit systems, say transit experts and officials.
"This is our moment to make sure our transit system is prepared," said Sanjay Seth, Boston's "climate resilience" program manager. "There's a lot that we need to do in the next 10 years, and we have to do it right. There's no need to build it twice."
In New York, where some 75 million gallons (285 million liters) of water were pumped out of the subways during Ida, ambitious solutions have been floated, such as building canals through the city.
But relatively easy, short-term fixes to the transit system could also be made in the meantime, suggests Janno Lieber, acting CEO of the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
Installing curbs at subway entrances, for example, could prevent water from cascading down steps into the tunnels, as was seen in countless viral videos this summer.
More than 400 subway entrances could be affected by extreme rains from climate change in coming decades, according to projections from the Regional Plan Association, a think tank that plans to put forth the idea for a canal system.
"The subway system is not a submarine. It can't be made impervious to water," Lieber said. "We just need to limit how quickly it can get into the system."
In Boston, climate change efforts have focused largely on the Blue Line, which runs beneath Boston Harbor and straddles the shoreline north of the city.
This summer's storms were the first real test of some of the newest measures to buffer the vulnerable line.
Flood barriers at a key downtown waterfront stop were activated for the first time when Tropical Storm Henri made landfall in New England in August. No major damage was reported at the station.
New York subway workers place a "flood door" decal onto steel doors, installed nearly five years after Superstorm Sandy flooding at South Ferry subway station, in New York on Tuesday June 27, 2017 Photo credit: voa
Officials are next seeking federal funds to build a seawall to prevent flooding at another crucial Blue Line subway stop, says Joe Pesaturo, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The agency has also budgeted for upgrading harbor tunnel pumps and is weighing building a berm around an expansive marsh the Blue Line runs along, he said.
In Philadelphia, some flood protection measures completed in Superstorm Sandy's wake proved their worth this summer, while others fell short.
Signal huts that house critical control equipment were raised post-Sandy along the hard-hit Manayunk/Norristown commuter line, but it wasn't high enough to avoid damage during Ida, said Bob Lund, deputy general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
On the bright side, shoreline "armoring" efforts prevented damaging erosion in what was the highest flooding in the area since the mid-1800s. That has buoyed plans to continue armoring more stretches along the river with the cable-reinforced concrete blocks, Lund said.
If anything, he said, this year's storms showed that flood projections haven't kept up with the pace of environmental change.
"We're seeing more frequent storms and higher water level events," Lund said. "We have to be even more conservative than our own projections are showing."
In Washington, where the Red Line's flood-prone Cleveland Park station was closed twice during Hurricane Ida, transit officials have begun developing a climate resiliency plan to identify vulnerabilities and prioritize investments, said Sherrie Ly, spokesperson for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
That's on top of the work WMATA has undertaken the last two decades to mitigate flood risks, she said, such as raising ventilation shafts, upgrading the drainage systems and installing dozens of high-capacity pumping stations.
A subway train slows as it makes its way into the Broad Channel station next to a seawall installed after Superstorm Sandy washed out sections of the tracks in October 2012, in the Rockaways section of Queens, New York, on Oct. 21, 2014 Photo credit: voa
On balance, East Coast transit systems have taken laudable steps such as sketching out climate change plans and hiring experts, said Jesse Keenan, an associate professor at Tulane University in New Orleans who co-authored a recent study examining climate change risks to Boston's T.
But it's an open question whether they're planning ambitiously enough, he said, pointing to Washington, where subway lines along the Anacostia and Potomac rivers into Maryland and Virginia are particularly vulnerable.
Similar concerns remain in other global cities that saw bad flooding this year.
In China, Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to hold officials accountable after 14 people died and hundreds of others were trapped in a flooded subway line in Zhengzhou in July. But there are no concrete proposals yet for what might be done to prevent deadly subway flooding.
In London, efforts to address Victorian-age sewer and drainage systems are too piecemeal to dent citywide struggles with flooding, says Bob Ward, a climate change expert at the London School of Economics.
The city saw a monsoon-like drenching in July that prompted tube station closures.
"There just isn't the level of urgency required," Ward said. "We know these rain events will get worse, and flooding will get worse, unless we significantly step up investment."
Other cities, meanwhile, have moved more swiftly to shore up their infrastructure.
Tokyo completed an underground system for diverting floodwater back in 2006 with chambers large enough to fit a space shuttle or the Statue of Liberty.
Copenhagen's underground City Circle Line, which was completed in 2019, features heavy flood gates, raised entryways and other climate change adaptations.
How to pay for more ambitious climate change projects remains another major question mark for East Coast cities, said Michael Martello, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher who co-authored the Boston study with Keenan.
Despite an infusion of federal stimulus dollars during the pandemic, Boston's T and other transit agencies still face staggering budget shortfalls as ridership hasn't returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The stunning images of flooding this summer briefly gave momentum to efforts to pass President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion infrastructure plan. But that mammoth spending bill, which includes money for climate change preparedness, is still being negotiated in Congress.
"It's great to have these plans," Martello said. "But has to get built and funded somehow." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Climate Change, Subways, Summer Storms, Hurricane Ida
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to examine a seeking direction to the Election Commission to de-register a political party, which fails to comply with the court's direction to disclose criminal antecedents of candidates fielded in polls. Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay requested a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli to list the petition urgently, against the backdrop of the ongoing election process. He contended that nomination for the first phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election has started, and the political parties and candidates are brazenly violating the top court judgments.
After briefly hearing Upadhyay, the bench said: "We will consider it... will give a date".
The plea argued that allowing criminals to stand for election threatens democracy and secularism. | Wikipedia
The plea claimed that the cause of action for filing the plea arose after the Samajwadi Party fielded alleged gangster Nahid Hasan from Kairana but neither published his criminal records in electronic, print and social media nor the reason for his selection within 48 hours. On February 13, last year, Shamli police imposed the Gangster Act on Nahid Hasan, who is a two-time MLA from Kairana. "He (Hasan) has multiple criminal cases and is the 'mastermind' behind the Hindu exodus from Kairana. There are many criminal cases including fraud and extortion, and he was declared a fugitive by Special MLA-MP Court," the plea said.
The plea argued that the consequences of permitting criminals to contest and become legislators are extremely serious for democracy and secularism. The plea sought a direction to the Election Commission to take steps to ensure that every political party publishes the details regarding criminal cases of each candidate along with the reason for such selection on the homepage of its official website in bold letters within 48 hours in the spirit of top court orders passed on September 25, 2018, and February 2, 2020. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: uttar pradesh assembly election, hima kohli, justices a.s. bopanna, chief justice n.v. ramana, political party, election commission, the supreme court, tainted candidates, action, plea)
There will be no chief guest at the Republic Day parade this year also as the plan to host state heads of five Central Asian countries -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- seems to have been cancelled due to the Covid situation in India as well as in the respective nations. Though the Ministry of External Affairs is yet to confirm this officially.
If the guests arrive, then this would be the second time when India hosts a group of state heads as the chief guests on the Republic Day. In 2018, state heads of ASEAN countries graced the occasion with their presence. Apart from Kazakhstan, none of these countries' state heads had been invited as the chief guests on the Republic Day. In 2009, Kazakhstan's then president Nursultan Nazarbayev was the Chief Guest.
The Government of India is in no mood to take any risk to invite any foreign guest.Unsplash
As per sources, due to the corona situation, the Government of India is in no mood to take any risk to invite any foreign guest, so the plan seems to have been cancelled. Last year, British Prime minister Boris Johnson was invited for the same, but later cancelled due to rising corona cases in the UK.
In the past, there have been occasions when the Republic Day ceremony was celebrated without any foreign guest. In 1966, there was no foreign chief guest in the Republic Day parade ceremony as the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri had passed away in Tashkent in January, and Indira Gandhi took oath as Prime Minister on January 24. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : chief, guest, Republic Day, parade, India, January, pandemic, 2022, host, nation, guest, invite, foreign, occasion, presence, celebrate.)
A team of scientists from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have found a cure for those suffering from chronic wounds, particularly with diabetic foot ulcers. The team led by Prof Gopal Nath of the department of Microbiology, Institute of Medical Sciences, said that wounds that took months and years to heal, could now be cured in days or months. The findings of study have been published in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health, US.
Prof Nath said that a wound is defined as a breach in the skin or body tissues due to injury. An acute wound is defined as a "recent break that is yet to progress through sequential stages of healing". The wounds where normal healing process is stalled due to underlying pathology (vascular and diabetes) or infection beyond three months is defined as chronic wound. While chronic wounds always get infected, the contaminated wounds are reasonably susceptible to infection.
A significant improvement could be achieved in the form of complete wound epithelization within a few weeks.Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash
Infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and biofilm formation halt healing progress. These wounds cause significant psychological and physical morbidity. The traditional treatment strategies often succeed in healing wounds, he said adding that many wounds have been observed recalcitrant to them, leading to persistence and recurrent infections. Search for alternatives to antibiotics has now become a compulsion. Fortunately, bacteriophage therapy is a re-emerging solution to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Prof Nath's team carried out phage therapy of acute and chronic infected wounds in animals and clinical studies. It showed efficacy against Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a mice wound model. Furthermore, they evaluated the efficacy of phage cocktails in animal models' acute and chronic osteomyelitis caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. They also observed biofilm eradication from K wire in rabbits' wound infection model. Clinical trials of phage therapy initiated by the BHU have reported the efficacy of topical phage in healing chronic wounds in three prospective exploratory studies and no adverse events mimicking the results in vivo animal models.
Scientists have found a cure for those suffering from diabetic foot ulcers. Unsplash
A clinical study by Gupta demonstrated the significant role of bacteriophage therapy in the chronic wounds associated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The study employed a total of twenty patients with chronic non-healing ulcers for more than six weeks duration. A significant improvement could be achieved in the form of complete wound epithelization within a few weeks. Another study, employing 48 patients having a minimum of one eligible full-thickness wound that did not heal in six weeks with convention wound management, showed the promising result, and significant improvement was observed in the wound healing.
The study projected that specific phage therapy is equally effective regardless of the diabetic or non-diabetic status of the patient though the healing was relatively delayed in diabetic patients. Another successful study has shown encouraging results on healing process of infected acute traumatic wounds. The average number of days required for complete granulation of wounds and attaining sterility and healing was half compared to conventional therapy. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : scientists, cure, chronic, wound, suffer, ulcer, diabetes, healing, pathology, health, infection, bacteria, study, patient, therapy, successful.)
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