In the American economic and cultural megalopolis, the police have counted at least 13 victims, including several trapped and drowned in their basements, rudimentary and sometimes unsanitary housing, built at the foot of buildings in Manhattan, Queens or Brooklyn. Firefighters rescued hundreds of residents.
“I’m 50 and I’ve never seen so much rain,” testified Metodija Mihajlov, a restaurant owner on the very chic Upper West Side, near the famous park, New York’s green lung. “It was like in the jungle, a tropical rain. Amazing,” the trader added.
Just north of Manhattan in the upscale seaside Westchester County, which was still hemmed in 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 also likely drowned. A traffic police officer died in the neighboring state of Connecticut.
Terrible record in New York
But the worst toll is for New Jersey, a state that faces New York, with “at least 23 people who lost their lives,” said Governor Phil Murphy. Most of the victims were taken by surprise and trapped in their car and probably drowned, the official said.
Finally, near Philadelphia, four people died, according to local authorities.
Streets, avenues, expressways were suddenly transformed 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 were devastated by waters sometimes rising up to 60 cm.
“I feel like I’ve lost everything,” Marcio Rodrigues, a mechanic in the town of Mamaroneck, told AFP in tears in his flooded car workshop. In New York, the gigantic subway network partially restarted Thursday, after the flooding of many stations. The NWS, the American weather service, recorded an absolute record of 80 mm of rain in one hour in Central Park.
State of emergency declared
The White House has declared a state of emergency in the states of New York and New Jersey, ordering federal agencies to “identify, mobilize and provide at discretion the necessary equipment and resources”.
“We are all together. The nation is ready to help,” said President Joe Biden, who is due to travel to Louisiana on Friday, the first state to suffer the ravages of Ida on Sunday, which destroyed many buildings and still deprives hundreds of thousands of homes of energy. electricity.
The new governor of New York State, Kathy Hochul, had already declared a state of emergency the day before following the “major” floods in all the counties bordering the city, potentially affecting some 20 million inhabitants. . New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose city is just recovering from the pandemic, had lamented a “historic weather event”.
Climate change in question
Several politicians pointed the finger at climate change, two weeks after the heavy rains of 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 Democratic Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer.
Hurricanes and storms are a recurring phenomenon in the United States. But warming ocean surfaces are helping to make storms more powerful, scientists warn.
In particular, they pose an increasing risk to coastal communities, victims of wave-submersion phenomena amplified by the rise in sea level.
Downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, Ida darkened over New England on Thursday evening. A tornado hit the popular Cape Cod peninsula in Massachusetts.