In Photos: Biden visits Louisiana and sees the effects of climate change

The US president spoke with those affected. AP Photo

Is climate change responsible for the chaos in New York? Authorities in the United States drew attention to global warming after remnants of Hurricane Ida struck the northeastern United States, killing at least 47 people.

Thirty-six hours after torrential rains wreaked havoc in and around the country's main city, President Joe Biden visited the southern state of Louisiana, the first to be hit by Ida on Sunday.

«Las cosas han cambiado tan drásticamente en términos del medio ambiente, ya se ha cruzado un cierto umbral», dijo el mandatario durante una reunión con funcionarios locales en LaPlace, Luisiana, adonde viajó para evaluar los daños.

Biden admitted that buildings cannot be done the same anymore to prevent these disasters. AP Photo

Biden, who has made climate change threats a priority, argued that costly improvements to the levee system around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, much more deadly, had proven their value in preventing more catastrophic damage this time around.

«No podemos reconstruir caminos, carreteras, puentes, nada como antes», y tenemos que «reconstruir mejor», afirmó.

Projects that seek to transform, rather than simply rebuild, will have to become the new norm, he said, pushing for Congress to pass his gigantic $ 3,5 trillion infrastructure bill.

Biden met with those affected by the hurricane. AP Photo

Ida caused major flooding and damage in the South, hitting one of the epicenters of the American oil industry as well as hitting historic New Orleans.

The states of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi were impacted before the storm reached the north, affecting New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and even Massachusetts.

«Un nuevo desafío»

Hurricanes and tornadoes are a recurring phenomenon in the United States. But scientists warn that warming of the ocean surface is making storms more powerful, especially in coastal cities like New York.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also warned about climate change on Friday.

«Esta tormenta debe despertarnos. Este es un nuevo desafío (…) en comparación con la época en que se asociaba las inundaciones con áreas costeras», dijo a la televisión MSNBC el viernes.

Losses are in the millions across the state. Photo EFE

The chaos rekindled memories of Hurricane Sandy, which in October 2012 left much of Manhattan without power and completely flooded the subway.

Record rains from Wednesday night through Thursday turned New York City streets into rivers and killed nearly a dozen people living in underground apartments. The metro system came to a complete standstill and was still experiencing disruptions on Friday.

«¡No debería sorprendernos!», señaló Jonathan Bowles, director del grupo de expertos Center for an Urban Future. «La ciudad parece colapsar con cada gran tormenta. La mayor parte de la infraestructura data del siglo XX», explicó a la AFP.

Nueva York «no se construyó para siete pulgadas (unos 18 centímetros) de lluvia en unas pocas horas», señaló Nicole Gelinas, especialista en economía urbana del Manhattan Institute.

Los desagües del sistema de alcantarillado de la ciudad se obstruyen, explicó y «no hay suficiente espacio verde para recoger parte del agua», así que «algunas avenidas se convierten en canales cuando hay una gran tormenta».

«Aterrorizada»

Among the reported deaths in New York, most drowned in their basements, rudimentary homes at the foot of buildings in Manhattan, Queens or Brooklyn.

En plena ciudad, «el agua se acumuló tan rápidamente que la gente quedó atrapada en sus propios sótanos», dijo De Blasio.

The damage was reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina. Photo EFE

In all, according to an ever-changing death toll, at least 47 people have died in and around New York City, half of them in neighboring New Jersey. Almost all perished in their homes, or in or near their cars.

«Mi esposo se despertó sobre las cuatro de la mañana, solo para ver el nivel del agua y dónde estaba. Yo estaba aterrorizaba por eso», sostuvo Jeannsie Silva Barrios a la AFP frente a su sótano totalmente inundado, en Mamaroneck, un suburbio al norte de Manahattan y el Bronx.

La Casa Blanca declaró el estado de emergencia en los Estados de Nueva York y Nueva Jersey, ordenando a los agentes federales que «identifiquen, movilicen y proporcionen a voluntad los equipos y recursos necesarios»

Degraded to a post-tropical cyclone, after its devastating passage through New York and its region, Ida darkened the sky Thursday as it passed over New England. A tornado hit the very touristy Cape Cod peninsula in Massachusetts.

AFP

 

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