BY DIANE S. WILLIAMS
Torrents of rain poured down as remnants of Hurricane Ida tore through New York City, flooding subways and turning roadways and streets into rushing rivers on Sept. 1.
The historic deluge dumped over three inches of rain in an hour and overloaded the city’s vast and aging drainage systems. It created life-threatening conditions and caused millions of dollars in damage, the likes of which have not been seen since Superstorm Sandy made landfall in 2012.
Wednesday’s super storm led state and local officials to call a State of Emergency in New York City. Hardest hit were parts of Manhattan and Queens, where subway station stairs became thunderous waterfalls. Ida’s angry floodwaters crashed through house foundations and inundated some ground level businesses and apartments. It quickly made a watery deathtrap for basement dwellers.
In New York City, Ida claimed 13 lives, including that of a 2-year-old child.
About 15 Local 983 Urban Park Rangers and Associate UPRs worked into the early morning to help stranded tennis fans at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadow Park. “The whole park was flooded. Water was four feet deep in some parts,” said AUPR Joe Oro.
Ida caught New York’s drivers off guard and stranded hundreds, forcing them to abandon their vehicles for safety. Local 983 traffic enforcement agent 3s, who are NYPD tow truck operators, busily removed more than 32 stranded vehicles on Thursday from the Major Deegan Expressway once the water began to recede.
NYPD deployed more than 21 trucks from the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, the most sent into one location. “We have relocated vehicles from the World Trade Center in ’93 and after 9/11, but this super storm took us for a loop,” said Marvin Robbins, 1st Vice President of Local 983. “There was no way to prepare for this. It was kind of crazy,”
The severe storm is evidence of the intense weather patterns that climate change promises to bring. Ida, a category 4 hurricane, made landfall in New Orleans and the Gulf coast on Aug. 30, the same date as Katrina in 2005.
The severe storm forced NYC DEP to allow property owners to pump muddy water into street catch basins. The Dept. of Buildings also issued guidelines for storm cleanup to prevent foundations from buckling and further damage to flooded buildings.
“During the pandemic and now with Ida, essential workers once again proved themselves. They went above and beyond to help New Yorkers during this dangerous and unprecedented storm,” said Local 983 President Joe Puleo.