Governor Kathy Hochul stood with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Chuck Schumer along with a number of Queens city guides on Thursday to speak of the response to a record-breaking storm that killed at least nine New Yorkers.
Heads of state, city and federal government pledged to work together to tackle the immediate effects of a storm that brought record rainfall to the region – and make long overdue infrastructure investments in preparation for future devastation from climate change.
“This is the first time we’ve had a flash flood event of this magnitude in New York City and the outskirts,” said Hochul. “We have never seen it before, but we should expect it next time.”
She said she phoned the White House Thursday morning and would accept President Joe Biden’s offer of help to the state.
“We are now in a whole new world. Let’s be frank, ”said de Blasio. “We saw a terrible storm last night like we’ve never seen before. And we have to face this reality. Unfortunately, the price some New Yorkers paid was terrible and tragic. “
Nine New Yorkers were killed in the storm, almost all in Queens. Eight died in basements while the ninth was found in the back seat of a car on Grand Central Parkway.
The city experienced record-breaking rainfall after Hurricane Ida, devastating public transport and flooded streets. In just an hour, over three inches of rain fell in Central Park. according to the National Weather Servicethat their very first Warning of “Flash Flood Emergency” for New York City.
Schumer reiterated the warnings about climate change and took the opportunity to push for federal infrastructure and budget balancing laws to be passed.
“Woe to us if we don’t realize that these changes are due to climate change. Woe to us if we don’t do something about it quickly, both in terms of building resilient infrastructure and clean electricity, ”he said.
While a press conference after a natural disaster is becoming more common, the joint appearance of Hochul, de Blasio and Schumer was a significant change from the approach of former Governor Andrew Cuomo. While Cuomo was never mentioned by name, his successor covertly referred to his style of leadership.
“My government, we do not govern by press conference,” said Hochul. “Yes, we are here today to answer questions. But I want to assure you that this is not just about today. We’ll do that tomorrow, the next day, and the next day. “
Cuomo’s regular press conferences made him a national star earlier in the pandemicalthough his actual leadership performance has since been subject to scathing criticism. In times of crisis he tended to avoid signals of cooperation, almost never appeared next to de Blasio or Schumer – and instead chose to exude an air of unique authority.
“You will see a different tone, a different era of cooperation,” said Hochul on Thursday.
She and other elected officials also offered condolences to New Yorkers affected by the deadly flood.
“This is absolutely devastating, and my heart goes out to everyone in this block and in this family: a mother, a son who passed away because of climate change and these record storms,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.).
“We’re helping them heal. We will get them the funds from the federal government as soon as they receive this declaration and let them know that we are not satisfied either, ”said Hochul. “That’s not okay with either of us.”