Devastating Flooding in NYC From Hurricane Ida Spurs Calls for Green New Deal

Desperate calls for far-reaching climate action came from New York City Wednesday night and into Thursday as the city and the surrounding area was inundated with the remnants of Hurricane Ida — causing partial building collapses, severely flooded subway stations and homes, and the deaths of at least 14 people.

“I’m asking for a Green New Deal!” tweeted Ellen Sciales, communications director for the Sunrise Movement, as she shared a video showing several feet of water flooding her own home.

A two-year-old was among those who were found unconscious by emergency workers in homes in New York and New Jersey, after authorities responded to calls about flooding. “When do we start caring about the climate crisis and stop pretending like we’ve done enough in New York?” asked Democratic New York state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in response to a video of a flooded subway station.

All of the city’s subway lines were suspended Wednesday night.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said last month, the warming of the planet is causing hurricanes to dump more rain on impacted areas when the storms hit. The atmosphere can hold 7% more water for every 1.8° Fahrenheit (1° Celsius) of warming, increasing precipitation. The planet is already about 2° Fahrenheit warmer than it was in the 19th century as a result of fossil fuel extraction.

New York City saw a record-breaking 3.24 inches of rain in a single day on Wednesday, and at least 7.2 inches of rain inundated Newark, New Jersey. Nearly 250,000 people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut were without power on Thursday morning.

Videos showed flooding at Newark Liberty International Airport, where many flights were canceled or delayed.

One terminal looked “like a giant swimming pool,” Dr. Lucky Tran of the March for Science tweeted.

“I never want to hear anyone say that a Green New Deal is too expensive ever again,” Tran tweeted, referring to the legislation proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that would create more than a million jobs and put people to work upgrading U.S. infrastructure, shifting to 100% renewable energy, retrofitting buildings, and taking other actions to mitigate the climate crisis.

Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, said she was going door-to-door in her district Thursday morning to find out how residents were affected. As the city was drenched Wednesday night, the congresswoman denounced members of both major political parties who have claimed in recent years that a Green New Deal is “unrealistic.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency for the state as the rain fell, but as Fossil Free Media director Jamie Henn tweeted, “What we really need is for [President Joe Biden] to declare a national climate emergency and do everything in his power to address this crisis.”

Instead of saying the flooding was caused by Hurricane Ida, Henn added, policymakers and the press alike “should be saying names like ‘Exxon,’ ‘Chevron,’ and ‘Shell.'”

“We need to keep connecting the dots back to the corporations that are fueling this crisis,” Henn added.