Biden argued that now is the time to take immediate action, including on his infrastructure plans.
“This is an opportunity,” Biden said as he met with officials in Hillsborough, New Jersey, before touring nearby Manville. “The country has finally recognized the fact that global warming is real and it’s moving at an incredible pace. We have to do something about it.”
The destruction from heavy rains and floods from the remains of Ida was “unbelievable” and the losses “profound,” said the president. In New Jersey, 27 people were among the dozen killed in the northeast.
In New Jersey, Biden spoke to several people who said they had lost their homes and were lucky enough to escape the floods with their lives. His message in New York was similar: he hoped Ida’s destruction could be a wake-up call for climate skeptics.
“Sometimes my mother said out of all bad things that something good will come if you look for it carefully enough. Well, I think we’ve all seen, even the climate skeptics see, that this is really important, ”said Biden in East Elmhurst, Queens.
The president’s stops were the last in a series of visits to communities affected by Hurricane Ida or its remains. Last week he visited other locations of destruction in Louisiana, near where Ida came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane. When Ida’s remains reached the northeast, few people suspected it would be more deadly.
The following deaths and damage have resulted in efforts being made in New Jersey and New York – states with Democratic governors and parliaments – to better plan and better prepare for future storms. These efforts, if they come, would reflect Biden’s own ambition for an infrastructure package that will harden the nation for a changing climate while working to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause it.
These plans are more tangible than distant climate deals reached in Paris or Kyoto over the past few decades – deals that the United States has failed to comply with in one way or another.
These deals should prevent the worst of climate change, but it could be too late.
“You cannot go back and restore what it was before. Because another tornado, another 10 inches of rain will produce the same results, ”said Biden.
Biden said the US has reached the moment climate experts have warned about for decades. The country is now in Code Red, he said. “The nation and the world are in danger.”
In Manville, a New Jersey ward about an hour outside of New York City, the president spent about 30 minutes viewing several blocks of flats full of rubble. He was accompanied by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) And other members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation.
Murphy said his state is “a long road to recovery”.
“We also know that you and your government and our government here in New Jersey will stand side by side with these people this long journey until they get back and stand upright again,” said the governor.
Almost as soon as Biden stepped out of his motorcade, he hugged flood victims who stood between their ruined homes on tree-lined streets along the Raritan River and one of its tributaries, the Millstone River.
“It’s amazing,” Biden said after visiting the home of Meagan and Caesar Dommar and their four-month-old daughter, Lila.
Your home was flooded and then exploded – fires often follow floods due to damage to electrical systems or gas infrastructure. Fortunately, the Dommars were gone.
On the street, the explosion rocked Robert and Linda Donnelly’s house, where they had huddled with six cats and a dog during the second flood, when water rose on the floor below. When they felt the explosion from the Dommar house, they decided to call for help.
The Donnellys said they were rescued by boat while much of the community remained underwater. The lifeboat hit a car covered in opaque brown flood water and smashed its window.
They lost three cars, including one that Robert Donnelly drives as a part-time job for Uber.
The couple said they were having difficulty filling out the federal forms needed to get help, but the President, Booker, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell had all said the federal government would be there for them.
After the president left, Linda Donnelly said she was not inclined to rebuild. Manville and some surrounding communities have seen catastrophic floods before, including Tropical Storms Floyd in 1999 and Irene in 2011, but the recent floods have hit harder and faster than the Donnellys expected.
“I would be scared every time it rains,” she said.
– Myah Ward contributed to this report