Ida’s unexpected scourge leaves at least 25 drowned in the Big Apple, New Jersey and Connecticut
Nobody expected it. Hurricane Ida arrived in the northeast of the United States devalued to a tropical storm, without having had the opportunity to recharge humidity in the sea because it had crossed the country by land, but climate change no longer gives warnings. Nor were the floods that killed at least 25 people, many of them caught in their New York apartments while they slept.
The water did not enter little by little, but suddenly, in a hurricane rush. Yankee Stadium was turned into a gigantic Olympic-size swimming pool. Those waiting for the subway at the station at 28th Street and Seventh Avenue, in the heart of Manhattan, saw it rush in like a furious torrent. A hundred people believed that they would meet their death that morning in the subway when they saw the stairs turned into raging waterfalls, with the tunnels and platforms flooded. There was no chance of escaping along the rails, but tonight the train conductors became the new heroes by guiding them to the surface.
On the streets, motorists were less lucky. Urban roads turned into rivers that washed away their vehicles. Many believed that they could remain sheltered inside their cars, because they did not imagine that the level could rise so much and so fast as to cover them. By the time they saw the water seep through the doors and vents, they realized it was time to swim, but by now it was too late for some. The doors did not open under the pressure of the water, which in some cases covered them completely. With the electrical systems wet, the windows were blocked and they were trapped at the mercy of rescue corps and Good Samaritans, who saved hundreds of people.
Yesterday it opened with that crystalline September light that illuminated the horror of 9/11 20 years ago and yesterday made fun of the tragedy again. With the atmosphere cleaned by winds of up to 168 kilometers per hour, which hit the region and caused tornadoes between the skyscrapers, the sun was shining crystal clear on a silent city.
Corpses floating in houses
Thousands of New Yorkers who went to bed without imagining that Ida would leave more than a rainy night found the subway closed and commuter trains suspended yesterday. The flooded stations, the disabled roads, the fallen trees on the roads and, what is worse, the corpses floating in their houses.
Queens was the New York neighborhood hardest hit by tragedy. Wherever basements are rented to immigrants and those who cannot afford the prohibitive prices of Manhattan or Brooklyn, death has come without mercy. At least a dozen people perished overnight without their neighbors knowing. The firefighters were going house to house yesterday. As in the Katrina days, Ida left the entire city of New Orleans without power. The president, Joe Biden, will travel there today to comfort the place where the category 4 hurricane, even bigger than Katrina, hit. “I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican, the tragedy affects us all,” he intoned.
In the new climate emergency of our time, the coastal areas that were traditionally associated with these atmospheric phenomena no longer have a monopoly. Ida hit Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as New York, which with 80 liters per hour broke the rainfall record set just ten days earlier by another hurricane, Henri, also devalued to a tropical storm. Meteorologists assured that the phenomenon recorded yesterday was one of those that “are only seen once every 500 years”, as the NY1 chain said, but the reality of climate change is imposed at the speed of the waterspouts that flooded the Manhattan restaurants in less than an hour.