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Flooding in New York City criticized for belated response

Flooding in New York City criticized for belated response

Posted October. 03, 2023 08:28,   

Updated October. 03, 2023 08:28


At 8:30 a.m. on Friday, water blasted from a drainage on a one-way, four-lane road heading towards La Guardia Airport in New York. The road was immediately flooded with more than 50mm of rainfall per hour. Cars, including the taxi that your reporter was using, pulled over to the shoulder of the road and filed in one line. “I’ve never experienced this kind of situation before. I don’t know how to get out of here,” said the driver.

An alert message appeared on the phone 30 minutes later, advising people not to move as the flood could put lives at risk. However, it was already past the time when most commuters and students had started to go to work/school. At least 150 schools were flooded in New York City on this day.

Many subway stations and roads in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens became flooded. Terminal A of La Guardia Airport closed down. It managed to re-open around 11 p.m. on the same day, but posts of passengers walking through flooded areas with bare feet were found on social media.

New York Mayor Eric Adam’s belated response to the situation, holding a press conference at noon to address the emergency, is being criticized by the public. “I do not understand why schools were opened when the rain was referred to as a historic flooding,” said a parent whose child uses a subway to get to school in Manhattan from Brooklyn. “If the drainage system cannot be fixed over a short period, the alert system should have at least worked.”

According to the New York Times, the drainage system of New York City can handle up to 1.75 inches (around 44.4 mm) per hour. Many areas of the city suffered from the heavy rainfall, which fell more than two inches per hour, totaling 200 mm on that day. “Unfortunately, heavy rainfall has become a new normal,” said New York State Governor Kathy Hochul on Saturday.

Hyoun-Soo Kim kimhs@donga.com