When Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on parts of the Northeast in 2012, it exposed the dire need to strengthen New York City’s infrastructure to adapt to what was then a looming threat of the climate crisis.
Nearly a decade later, the city is picking up the pieces after another climate whiplash it was unprepared for. Within two weeks, two storms – Henri and Ida – broke rainfall records in the Northeast. Flash flood emergencies from the remnants of Hurricane Ida stretched for 190 miles from Philadelphia to New York City. Central Park recorded its wettest hour on record, while Newark, New Jersey, recorded its wettest day. As of Friday, the floods had killed at least 46 people in the region.
“This was worse than Sandy, and it happened over a short period of time,” Maria Lopez-Nuñez, a resident of Newark, told CNN. “And sadly, our region is not more prepared than when Sandy hit.”
When the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped more than 7 inches of rain on parts of New York City, officials and meteorologists seemed stunned by the devastating flooding that ensued.
“This is the biggest wake-up call we could possibly get,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “What we have to recognize is the suddenness, the brutality of storms now. It is different.”
But climate scientists have warned for years that the more humans heat up the planet, these sorts of extreme rainfall events will occur with increasing frequency and intensity. And in many parts of the country, the infrastructure in place today was built for a climate that no longer exists.