On Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service issued a prediction that a wide swath of the Ohio Valley and the Eastern Seaboard would soon see heavy rainfall from what had once been Hurricane Ida. And one of the reddest portions of those maps — indicating severe rainfall and a high probability of flooding — hovered directly over New York City.
Those predictions proved true. But the record intensity of the rain, with more than three inches falling in one hour, caught officials by surprise. And on Thursday, as the death toll in the Northeast rose to 43 people, including 23 in New Jersey and 15 in New York, questions quickly arose as to whether city and state officials were caught flat-footed by the storm’s ferocity.
The destruction in the New York region seemed especially striking considering that Ida had already blown through the Gulf Coast, hitting New Orleans on Sunday with far stronger winds but with fewer deaths.
It also comes after a series of increasingly powerful tropical storms – including Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – have repeatedly been taken as warning signs that the city’s aging infrastructure and subways are vulnerable. extreme weather damage caused by climate change. In particular, the subways have become a default drainage system whenever heavy rains flood the city’s actual drainage system.
The storm’s devastation underscored the city’s growing fragility in an age of global warming, but also illustrated how the unpredictability of weather events can topple even the most extreme. best plan.
The city issued an official warning early Wednesday morning, when the city’s Office of Emergency Management warned that the ruins of Ida could cause flash flooding. The city said it has also activated its flash flood emergency plan, which includes cleaning up congested fishing catchments. It put its tree felling task force on alert.
According to the governor’s office, state transportation officials have been dispatched to clear sewers and other drainage systems with a lot of dirt, with inspections and patrols to assess surges. A wide range of equipment – from chainsaws to hand tools – as well as pumps and generators were deployed.