Furious New Yorkers slammed Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday for not giving more warning for the catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Ida and only declaring a state of emergency after the bodies of seven residents – including a two-year-old boy – were found in flooded basement homes.
Ida tormented the South earlier this week as a hurricane then was downgraded to a tropical storm. Meteorologists predicted that it would shower the northeast on Thursday and Friday before moving off-coast, but the amount of rain that fell was beyond anything any residents had anticipated, and tornadoes that ripped up New Jersey had not been expected.
At least 41 people have been found dead across the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland on Thursday, and the death toll is expected to rise.
New Yorkers were largely unaware of what was in store for them last night and many found themselves stuck on trains when the storm hit. The National Weather Service prediction center blasted a tweet at 2.40pm that a severe rainstorm was on the way, but nothing came from de Blasio’s office until around 7.20pm.
Between then and 9pm, the warnings were for flash flood warnings, which are routine amber alerts often blasted across the city when there is heavy rain.
It wasn’t until 8.50pm that the peak rainfall was reached, and it wasn’t until nearly 9.30pm that the National Weather Service declared a Flash Flood Emergency – the first ever in NYC.
The City of NYC didn’t send out the alert of the Flash Flood Emergency until 10.25pm, and the subway was not suspended until 10.48pm. People who were were stuck on trains had to be rescued by bus drivers.
The Governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania gave earlier warnings but New York Governor Kathy Hochul didn’t declare a state of emergency until after midnight, and de Blasio only declared a state of emergency at 11.26pm.
By then, the NYPD had recovered the bodies of seven people who drowned in basement apartments across Brooklyn and Queens. They found the eighth – an 86-year-old woman – just before midnight.
At a press briefing on Thursday morning, de Blasio admitted that he – and weather experts – underestimated how much rain would fall.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Jennifer Smith