Biden Calls Ida Flooding in New York a Warning of Climate Change
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden warned that storm-ravaged New York and New Jersey are signs of worsening climate change, redoubling his push for a $550 billion public works bill that he said would help build more resilient communities.
“The threat is here. It’s not going to get any better. The question -- can it get worse?” Biden said in Queens, New York, on Tuesday after surveying storm damage there and in New Jersey. “We can stop it from getting worse.”
Biden toured areas of Louisiana devastated by Hurricane Ida last week. In Queens, there were many deaths after the storm flooded basement apartments. The New York subway system and commuter rail services were ground to a halt, with commuters posting video on social media of water pouring into tunnels and onto trains.
Biden noted that Ida hit the New York region days after another hurricane, Henri, drenched the area with rain, and that wildfires have burned 5 million acres in the American West this year so far.
“These disasters aren’t going to stop,” he said. “They’re only going to come with more frequency and ferocity.”
The trip comes as lawmakers in Washington prepare to debate the president’s $3.5 trillion spending plan for social issues spanning education and senior care to climate change. Democrats aim to have the package wrapped up by the end of this month, which would set up the House to approve the separate bipartisan infrastructure bill negotiated at the same time.
The legislation, Biden said, would also create economic growth and jobs.
“Wall Street, not too far from here, acknowledges that we spend the money on these things, we’re going to grow the economy, increase employment,” he said.
Ida made landfall in Louisiana, where it damaged towns and some oil production facilities.
Ida’s economic toll in the Northeast is expected to reach $28 billion, according to an estimate from Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research. Nationwide, the toll was just over $60 billion, making it the fifth-most destructive storm to hit the U.S., behind hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Maria and superstorm Sandy.
At least 50 people were killed in six eastern states due to Ida, according to the Associated Press. More than 1,000 homes in the northeast were damaged.
“We can’t just build back to what it was before,” Biden said earlier in New Jersey. “Because another tornado, another 10 inches of rain is going to produce the same kind of results.”
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