Storm Ida wreaks havoc, at least 44 dead in and around New York

New York is struck on Thursday, hit overnight by torrential rains and sudden and historic flooding that left at least 44 people dead in the region, after the devastating passage of Storm Ida. In the American economic and cultural megalopolis, the police counted at least 13 dead, including several people probably trapped and drowned in their basements, rudimentary housing, and sometimes unsanitary, arranged at the foot of the buildings of Manhattan, Queens or Brooklyn. Firefighters have rescued hundreds of residents.

Worst record for New Jersey

Just north of Manhattan in upscale seaside Westchester County, which was still surrounded by muddy, brackish water Thursday night, one of its officials, George Latimer, told CNN that three people who had attempted to get out of their car were also likely to drown. A police officer assigned to monitor traffic has died in neighboring Connecticut.

But the worst toll is for New Jersey, a state facing New York, with “at least 23 people who have lost their lives,” said Governor Phil Murphy. Most of the victims were taken by surprise and trapped in their cars and probably drowned, the official said.

Finally, near Philadelphia, four people died, according to local authorities. Streets, avenues, expressways were suddenly turned into torrents, both in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens. In Westchester, dozens of vehicles were still submerged to the roof on Thursday and basements of pretty traditional East Coast houses devastated by water sometimes rising to two feet.

“I have the impression of having lost everything”, said in tears, Marcio Rodrigues, mechanic of the municipality of Mamaroneck, in his flooded car workshop. In New York, the gigantic subway network partially restarted Thursday, after the flooding of many stations. The NWS, the US weather service, recorded an all-time high of 80mm of rain in one hour in Central Park.

Emergency state

“I’m 50 years old and I’ve never seen so much rain,” said Metodija Mihajlov, restaurateur in the chic Upper West Side, near the famous park, New York’s green lung. “It was like in the jungle, a tropical rain. Incredible,” added the trader. In the middle of the night, the new governor of the State of New York, Kathy Hochul, had declared a “state of emergency” following the “major” floods in all the border counties of the city, potentially affecting some 20 million. inhabitants. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose city is just recovering from the pandemic, lamented a “historic meteorological event”.

The “state of emergency” for the floods is unprecedented for New York City, according to the US weather service. Impressive tornadoes and floods also struck in Pennsylvania, New Jersey – also under a state of emergency – and in Maryland.

Cape Cod Tornado

On Thursday, New Yorkers were cleaning their cellars and several politicians pointed the finger at climate change, two weeks after heavy rains from Storm Henri and nine years after Hurricane Sandy. “Global warming is upon us and it will get worse and worse if we do nothing,” warned New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.

Hurricanes and storms are a recurring phenomenon in the United States. But the warming of the ocean surface is helping to make storms more powerful, scientists warn. In particular, they pose an increasingly significant risk to coastal communities, victims of wave-submersion phenomena amplified by rising sea levels.

President Joe Biden will travel to Louisiana on Friday, the first state to suffer the ravages of Ida on Sunday, which destroyed numerous buildings and still deprives hundreds of thousands of homes of electricity. “We are all together. The nation is ready to help,” said the tenant of the White House simply. Downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, Ida darkened Thursday night over New England. A tornado hit the very touristy Cape Cod peninsula in Massachusetts.

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