Despite being widely criticized for his slow response in advance of Hurricane Ida’s remnants sweeping over New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday the killer rainfall will likely lead to travel bans and mandatory evacuations ahead of future monstrous storms.
“Literally, the highest rainfall we have ever seen in the history of New York City in one hour,” he pointed out, with the previous record set just two weeks earlier.
“And this is, unfortunately, the shape of things to come in terms of this extreme weather.
“We have to understand we’re now in the great unknown, we’re in a whole different world,” he said, noting also recent wildfires that have set records across the US.
“We’re in an entirely different reality, and we’re going to have to act very differently going forward,” he warned.
The mayor — who has taken flak for the city’s lack of preparedness for Ida, despite urgent forecasters’ warnings — insisted that the “destructive power” of Ida “came out of nowhere.”
He told MSNBC that a task force is being set up to “nail down … a new set of ground rules” dealing with storms, ones that will need “much more intense actions.”
“We would historically not think of telling people, ‘Don’t go on the streets don’t go on the subways’ — literally banning travel. This is the kind of thing we’re going to have to use more often,” he said.
He also said he wanted a “plan to evacuate folks who live in basements” — noting that the fatalities came in the city, rather than flooded coastlines like previously deadly storms like Sandy.
“This is something entirely new — rain that accumulates so quickly that people can be trapped in their own basement, far away from any seashore,” he told CNN in a separate interview Friday, saying others were trapped in cars “because the rain accumulates so quickly they don’t even know what hit him.”
“This is a kind of extreme brutal weather that’s a whole new ballgame,” he said.