UNITED STATES: Officials in the U.S. states of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania on Thursday reported at least 46 deaths as a result of flash flooding caused by torrential rainfall and storm driven by remnants of Hurricane Ida.
Governor Phil Murphy said that at least 23 people died in New Jersey, officials added that at least five deaths were reported in Pennsylvania and one each in Connecticut and Maryland.
Officials in New York City and suburban Westchester County say as many as 16 people died while trapped by flood waters in basement apartments or caught in their cars.
The storm system originally came ashore Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane in Louisiana. A subdued Ida then headed Northeast, where it combined with a storm front and dumped a flash flood Wednesday on New York City and the neighboring city of Newark, New Jersey.
U.S. President Joe Biden has declared an emergency in both New Jersey and New York, enabling both states to receive federal funding to support local disaster relief efforts.
Biden says “historic investment” is needed to deal with the climate crisis of such gravita. The U.S, is facing climate-related destruction across the country and tackling it is “a matter of life and death”, the president said.
Kathy Hochul, who became the governor of New York last week after former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned, said: “We did not know that between 8:50 and 9:50 p.m. last night, that the heavens would literally open up and bring Niagara Falls level of water to the streets of New York.”
This kind of cataclysmic event, she added, is no longer unforeseeable, and the city and state need to be prepared.
Impact of climate change: A 21st century catastrophe
The impact of climate change on the frequency of storms is still unclear, but we know that increased sea surface temperatures warm the air above and make more moisture and energy available to drive hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons. As a result, the intensity of rains and gets amplified to large extents.
The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.