Biden warns ‘climate crisis is here’ after 50 killed in Storm Ida flooding

The death and destruction caused by Storm Ida is a reminder that “the climate crisis is here” and “we must better prepare,” US President Joe Biden has said.

The flooding caused by the storm has killed at least 29 people in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including a two-year-old boy, NBC reports.

States of emergency were declared in New York and New Jersey as the remnants of a hurricane sparked flash floods that forced New York City to suspend its subway services.

Pictures show aftermath of Storm Ida

Pictures show aftermath of Storm Ida

Last night, the city suffered its wettest hour on record, with more than 80mm of rain falling in Central Park in the space of 60 minutes.

Storm Ida: New York flooding live updates

That surpassed the previous record of 49mm that was set in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Henri just last month.

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‘Screaming’ motorists trapped in New York floods

Ida was the fifth most powerful storm to hit the US when it made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday as a hurricane, bringing maximum winds of 150mph and causing tens of billions of dollars in damage.

More on Hurricane Ida

  • Storm Ida: New York flooding and other extreme weather shows our world is increasingly vulnerable – and our leaders are now quick to admit it

  • Ida: Pictures show aftermath of storm that has killed dozens of people

  • US weather news latest: New York City suffers wettest hour on record as Storm Ida hits – with state of emergency declared

  • Hurricane Ida may not have been as devastating as feared but a different crisis is playing out for many people

  • Hurricane Ida: Man missing after alligator bites off his arm in Louisiana floodwaters

  • Hurricane Ida rips at the jazz heart of New Orleans

It wreaked havoc along the Gulf Coast as it was downgraded to a tropical storm and later caused deadly flooding and tornadoes in the northeastern US.

First responders pull residents in a boat following flooding in Mamaroneck, New York
Image:First responders pull residents in a boat following flooding in Mamaroneck, New York

Addressing the nation in a news conference on Thursday, Mr Biden said: “The past few days of Hurricane Ida and the wildfires in the west and the unprecedented flash floods in New York and New Jersey is yet another reminder that these extreme storms and the climate crisis are here.”

“We must better prepare. We need to act,” he said.

“It’s a matter of life and death, and we’re all in it together.”

It comes as eight people were killed in five separate incidents during flooding in New York City.

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Flash flooding hits New York City

A ninth victim was confirmed by mayor Bill de Blasio, but he did not provide any further details.

In New Jersey, 17 people have died, while there have been three fatalities in Pennsylvania, according to NBC News.

The two-year-old boy, a 50-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman were found dead in Queens, New York, after their basement apartment flooded.

Felix Delapuente, a neighbor of the home in the Queens borough of New York where three people died including a 2-year old child, shows the flood damage in his basement, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, in New York PIC:AP
Image:Felix Delapuente, pictured in his flooded basement. He lived near the home where three people died in Queens. Pic: AP
Police officers stand outside a home in the Queens borough of New York where three people died including a 2-year old child when their basement apartment flooded, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, in New York PIC:AP
Image:Police officers stand outside a home in Queens, New York, where three people died including a two-year-old boy. Pic: AP

A 48-year-old woman and a 66-year-old man were also found at separate residences in the city and a 43-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man were discovered inside another home.

Meanwhile, New York’s fire department said it responded to a report of flooding in Queens shortly after 11pm and one person taken from the building was pronounced dead.

Another victim in Passaic, New Jersey, was found dead in a vehicle which became submerged when it was caught in flooding near the Passaic River, according to the town’s mayor.

A further four people died in an apartment complex in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Floodwater slowly recedes in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Lafitte, La., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. PIC:AP
Image:Floodwater slowly recedes in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Lafitte, La., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. PIC:AP

The National Weather Service said Wednesday was the first time it had issued a “flash flood emergency” for New York City.

The term is used for exceedingly rare situations in which flash flooding poses a severe threat to human life and causes catastrophic damage – or will do so soon.

“We’re enduring a historic weather event tonight with record breaking rain across the city, brutal flooding and dangerous conditions on our roads,” Mr de Blasio said late on Wednesday.

He urged people to stay off the streets, saying: “If you’re thinking of going outside, don’t. Stay off the subways. Stay off the roads. Don’t drive into these heavy waters. Stay inside.”

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Floodwater cascades into New York subway

A travel ban that barred non-emergency vehicles from streets and highways was in place until 5am local time this morning (10am UK time).

New York City Subway tweeted that anyone trapped between stations should stay put as videos posted online showed passengers standing on seats and trains filled with water.

The city’s LaGuardia and JFK airports reported flight disruptions, while New Jersey’s Newark airport limited its operations after initially suspending all flights.

At least one tornado hit New Jersey, with posts on social media showing houses reduced to rubble by strong winds.

A vehicle moves along a flooded road in Williamsburg, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City
Image:A flooded road in Williamsburg, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City

The extreme weather seemingly failed to deter some people from ordering food deliveries as video appeared to show a worker wading through knee-high waters on a bicycle.

The latest wave of devastation caused by the storm comes as the UN warned that weather disasters are striking the world four to five times more often and causing seven times more damage than in the 1970s.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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