Kolkata, India: Climate change was once again in the spotlight after dozens died from hurricane Ida and rare flashfloods razed the northeast US earlier this week.
Rainfall so heavy that it transformed streets into rivers, halted subway service as water poured onto tracks, and drowned almost a dozen people in their basement flats.
“We are in a whole different world,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said after rare flash floods triggered by remains of Hurricane Ida drenched the biggest US city. “This is a different challenge.”
Both New York, and New Orleans declared a state of emergency to cope up with the crisis.
Hurricane Ida, which decimated the southern state of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast earlier in the week before delivering a blow to the northeast, hit hardest in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
President Joe Biden, who has made climate change a priority, traveled to Louisiana on Friday, where more than 800,000 people were still without power after Hurricane Ida hit the state as a Category Four storm.
Hurricane Ida and unmanageable wildfires in the western United States are “yet another reminder” of the issue (Climate change), Biden warned on Thursday in a White House statement.
“It’s a matter of life and death and we need to meet it together,” he said.
Time and again experts have linked the increasing intensity and episodes of tropical storms with climate change.
Are cities falling short to withstand storms (climate change)?
In just an hour, the National Weather Service reported 3.15 inches of rain in Central Park in New York, breaking the previous record set just last month during Storm Henri.
New York’s infrastructure “was not built for seven inches of rain in a few hours,” according to Nicole Gelinas, an urban economist at the Manhattan Institute.
Coastal cities across the world stand threatened from the menaces of climate change, despite these regions are thriving business centers and drivers of the economy.
However, scientists aren’t sure how quickly or how high sea levels will rise due to conflicting estimates of future global temperatures.
Nonetheless, they all agree on the principal impacts of climate change: coastal land flooding and submergence, saltwater intrusion into surface and groundwater, increased erosion, and overwhelmingly severe social and economic consequences.
Thirteen deaths have been recorded in New York City, with 11 victims unable to escape their basements when floodwaters sealed them in, according to authorities.
Officials said three individuals were killed in the New York suburb of Westchester, five in Pennsylvania, and one in Connecticut.
It’s no surprise that the city looks to implode whenever there’s a major storm, said Jonathan Bowles to AFP, executive director of the research tank Center for an Urban Future.
The city’s infrastructure hasn’t kept up with New York’s population expansion in recent decades, let alone the increasing fury of storms and rising sea levels that have resulted from climate change, Bowles said.
Horrifying social media images and footage showed streets like rivers, waves lapping over parked cars up to bonnets.
One particularly dangerous footage showed a New York subway gradually filling with floodwater.
Climate experts and scientists have warned that these climate change-induced extreme weather events may be on a further rise in the future.
It’s unusual for such storms to hit America’s northeastern, and it’s happening as the ocean’s surface layer heats due to climate change, scientists say.
Scientists warn that as the world warms, cyclones will get more powerful and transport more water, posing a greater hazard to coastal towns around the world.
“I’m 50 years old and I’ve never seen that much rain ever. It was like living in the jungle, like tropical rain. Unbelievable. Everything is so strange this year,” Metodija Mihajlov whose Manhattan restaurant basement was flooded with three inches of water told AFP.