The governors of New York and New Jersey declared a state of emergency late on Wednesday (1) after the impacts of tropical storm Ida, which has been advancing on American territory since the weekend, left at least eight dead. The phenomenon is already considered one of the biggest extreme weather events observed in the US in recent decades.
Seven of the victims, ages 2 to 66, lived in Queens and Brooklyn, New York City neighborhoods, and died in floods caused by heavy rains, according to the local police department. The eighth death, of a 70-year-old man, was confirmed in the city of Passaic, New Jersey, after the vehicle he was in was submerged.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio described the floods and weather observed Wednesday as a “historic weather event” after the National Weather Service issued five back-to-back flash flood warnings for the entire stretch of west Philadelphia to north of New Jersey.
Almost all of New York’s subway lines were suspended after rainwater entered the stations and flooded the platforms and tracks. Local authorities advised people not to use the streets, on foot or by car, due to the intensity of the rains and winds, and non-emergency vehicles were prohibited from circulating on the city’s streets until 5:00 am local time.
The New York transit authority even instructed that those trapped in train cars should remain in them. “It’s the safest place to be,” the service wrote on a social network.
The volume of rain recorded during the passage of storm Ida is already considered a record in different regions. In Central Park, which has weather records since 1869, the rain recorded on the fourth broke the old record of 1927. In the city of Newark, New Jersey, the previous record of 1959 was also surpassed.
On Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations’ climate arm, said Hurricane Ida could be the most expensive climate disaster in history, even surpassing Hurricane Katrina, which 16 years ago left some 1,800 dead . The statement came shortly after the WMO released a global report demonstrating that the occurrence of extreme weather events such as Ida has increased fivefold in the last five decades.
Before reaching New York, Ida had already advanced into Louisiana and Mississippi earlier this week, where it left five dead and destroyed the state’s electrical system. So far, most homes and businesses in the region are without electricity.