Following Ida, New York City launches program to deal with rain and extreme weather

People stand at a flooded subway entrance as they debate wading through high water caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, in Queens, New York, on September 1. (Anthony Behar/Sipa US/AP)

Following historic rainfall across New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday announced the NYC Climate-Driven Rain Response, a series of initiatives the city will undertake to help the city deal with extreme weather.

The initiative will focus on warning systems, protecting people living in basement-level homes and the creation of a 30-day extreme weather response task force, which will put together a new set of protocols and policies by climate week, he said.

The mayor said New Yorkers didn’t know they’d experience “shocking and unprecedented rainfall.” 

“We had a one-hour period Wednesday night that set the all-time record for a single hour in the history, the recorded history of New York City … We had set a previous record a few weeks earlier for the most rainfall in an hour, (but) this new record is much, much higher,” he said. 

“We have to change what we do across the board, we need to change our entire mindset because we’re being dealt a very different hand of cards now,” he added.

The system of warnings will include…

  • Travel bans
  • Evacuations
  • Requiring people to clear the streets.

This system can include first responders going door-to-door and getting people out of their homes, de Blasio said. 

People living in basement apartments may expect to receive specific cell phone alerts ahead of storms about the vulnerabilities they face and to be evacuated from their homes, he added.

De Blasio did not say how soon these changes will be implemented.

“We’re going to, in particular, focus on a different kind of warning, a much more severe kind of warning and a much more severe set of actions,” said de Blasio. “We now understand that this kind of radical, sudden change in weather is beyond the understanding, beyond the reach of any of our typical measuring tools. Things are happening that projections can’t track with accuracy or consistency, which means we have to assume the worst in a way we never have before.”



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