Adieu to Winter!
A reader sent me the photo above. The massive yet airy, eternal, almost supernatural bulk of Notre-Dame de Paris sits serenely in the snow, undaunted, unwithered by time or tempest. The New Years' message from the photographer is an unavoidable addition.
The week just past was busy for me. Last weekend (from February 19 to 23) the central heating in my house broke down. Fortunately it was repairable. Then came the ominous warnings of still another storm. It did arrive on Thursday, built up strength on Friday, thrashing high winds like giant whiplashes against trees, buildings, cars, creating a very dangerous layer of ice on streets and sidewalks. There were countless bottlenecks, delays, closings, as usuual. Then, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. Now, everything has melted. Winter's last hurrah?
Then came the terrible news of ANOTHER earthquake in Chile (below). The rescue teams have barely recovered from Haiti. The last I heard there were 800 deaths, but that number will surely rise.
At about the same time, we learned of a "killer" storm named Xynthia that was wreaking havoc in France. The photo below from Le Figaro gives some idea. No snow, but rising waters, roofs torn apart, and almost a quarter of a million homes without electricity. The report says 48 deaths in all, but that report is admittedly provisional. It seems that much of the French Atlantic coast, especially Brittany, was affected - there are also photos of damage in the Pyrenees. In Vendée, where dams burst, homes and nursing homes had to be evacuated. Some drowned inside their home. The question has been raised by Le Figaro readers regarding the level on which the homes were built - possibly too low (as in New Orleans?). One headline reads "The Storm is not Connected to Global Warming". Here we have been told that our snowstorms were the RESULT of global warming!
One Figaro reader was struck by the fact that though the French government allocated 326 million euro for Haiti, it has announced only ONE million for the victims of Xynthia. Obviously the two situations are not comparable in magnitude, but the figure of one million is paltry considering the terrible damage and the homes that will have to be rebuilt. Possibly the reader was not completely informed.
Xynthia reached 100 mph an hour winds. The violent winds combined with a rising tide resulted in a rise in sea level of more than three feet.
Despite the bad news, congratulations to Canada for a great hockey game, and for a great two weeks! Vancouver did herself proud.
Below, would you believe Venice in the snow!