I left the gym a few weeks ago at 10:30PM, and turning onto Broadway, I started my short walk home. I felt a sudden and strangely urgent quickening in the air followed immediately by a torrential wind-driven downpour. It was as if the sky had split in half. The fact that there was no time delay between the crowded lightning and thunder let me know that I was near the center of the storm. People dining all fresco across from Lincoln Center had no time to find shelter. Pedestrians shrieked and ran into traffic. Within a half hour, the microburst, as it was labeled by the 11PM TV weatherman who told me what I had just been through, was over. It had uprooted and ripped down more than 200 trees in a very small section of Central Park. The next day, Adrian Benape, the Parks Commissioner, toured the devastation and, in an oddly poetic statement, spoke of the horrible smell of torn tree limbs. I can't imagine what it would have been like to have been in the park where the damage was concentrated during the Microburst, with no way to guess which of the venerable and massive trees would fall next.
When the Baad Lamb and I toured the damage, the wood-chipping tree service trucks were already in full mobilization. I think that grinding up those trees is a lost opportunity. Benape should have offered the largest limbs and trunks for sale to wealthy New Yorkers who would love to renovate their kitchens and be able to say to their guests "These cabinets are made from a 150 year old Central Park oak that fell during the Microburst of 2009."