New York suffered at least $50 million in damage from Hurricane Ida, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday.
Hochul said the price tag — which she expects to grow — qualifies New Yorkers for major federal disaster assistance, including funding for people displaced during the storm.
“The heavens broke loose, the city was overwhelmed, the streets couldn’t handle the flow of the rivers,” Hochul said of last week’s massive storm.
“We also had a significant loss of life in this area where people were held captive and trapped in their homes.”
At least 17 people in New York died during the storm, according to state figures, with many of the victims trapped in illegal basement apartments. About 1,200 homes in the state also were impacted by the flooding, Hochul said.
New York City’s 50,000-plus illegal basement residences have come under scrutiny since Wednesday’s rain storm. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that he would address the issue by pushing plans calling for the emergency evacuation of basement tenants during such situations, instead of actually cracking down on the dwellings beforehand.
Hochul echoed the mayor’s stance in her comments Sunday, emphasizing the need to set-up a warning system for basement dwellers to know if floods are coming.
“There has to be a better warning system for people who are in their homes … and whether they’re certified and approved by a building inspector doesn’t matter,” she said.
“There’s a human being living in there, or multiple human beings living in that space, and we need a system to alert them… that they are in danger.”
Hochul said she had identified $378 million in federal “resiliency” funds in the state coffers which she would dedicate to rebuilding infrastructure impacted by the storm — with a specific focus on drainage and “structural analysis” of homes that were impacted.
She declined to ding the mayor for not condemning illegal basement dwellings sooner.
“I’m not here to ever cast blame,” the governor said. “I’m here to say I’ve identified a pot of money that can help with that infrastructure challenge and to fix those areas where people … know they are most vulnerable.”