New Yorkers are going to have to face more severe impacts of the climate crisis, like those of Hurricane Ida, with increasing regularity, warned the state’s new governor Kathy Hochul.
"Because of climate change, unfortunately, this is something we're going to have to deal with great regularity,” Governor Hochul said at a press conference on Thursday.
She also said that any “intelligence failures in terms of our preparedness” would be investigated by officials, before praising the efforts of emergency responders.
Both Governor Hochul and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared emergencies on Wednesday night after the storm dumped historic levels of rain, leading to deadly flash flooding. In Manhattan’s Central Park 3.15 inches of rain fell in just one hour.
The death toll in the region has risen to at least 14 people including a two-year-old boy.
New York Police Department reported that at least eight people were killed when their basement apartments flooded. In Elizabeth, New Jersey, five people were found dead after an apartment complex flooded, according to a city spokesperson.
A 70-year-old man died when his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters in Passaic, New Jersey. Firefighters in scuba gear attempted to reach trapped drivers in places where the water level reached up to six feet.
More than 200,000 homes in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were left without power following the extreme weather.
Several factors linked to the climate crisis are helping to fuel more powerful, destructive storms like Ida, scientists say.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climate science, found that storms with sustained higher wind speeds – in the Category 3-5 range – have likely increased in the past 40 years.
The ocean absorbs more than 90 per cent of the excess heat caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and that warm water feeds hurricanes. As the planet heats up, more moisture is held in the atmosphere, which means that storms also bring the potential of a lot more rainfall.
Global sea-level rise is compounding the danger of storm surge. The sea level off New York’s coast is up to nine inches higher than it was in 1950.
"We are in uncharted territory," tweeted NYC Council member Mark Levine, “We are beyond NOT ready for climate change.”
Gov. Hochul, who took over after Andrew Cuomo resigned last month, said that she had spoken to President Joe Biden who offered any assistance that New York needs.
Travel advisories remain in place for the New York area and drivers were advised to stay off city streets and highways while clean-up continues.
Parts of the New York subway system were suspended and other parts were running with major delays following flooding. flights were also delayed and cancelled at LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports.
“We ask all New Yorkers to check on neighbours and loved ones, especially those who are elderly or disabled, along with those living in flood-prone locations and basements,” the NYPD said in a statement.
Parts of New England remained under a flash flood warning on Thursday. In Portsmouth, Rhode Island, a road crumbled under torrential rain.
"Remember to elevate items stored in your basement. If you have a sump pump, check that it is working," the City of Boston tweeted.
Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday with sustained wind speeds of up to 150 mph. More than a million people lost power when Ida toppled thousands of transmission lines and knocked 216 substations offline.
Utility companies warned that thousands could remain in the dark and without air conditioning or running water for several weeks amid stifling heat and humidity.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies